Unheard Voices: Somali Writers

Week 7: What makes a great role?

First of all we shared ideas of what makes a great character:

• Passion and charisma – exceptional people who induce a strong emotional response.
• Ambition – a character has goals that he/she believes in wholeheartedly.
• Facing adversity – the character faces obstacle and feels they are at war (real or perceived).
• Challenging the status quo – characters who desire more than the way things are.
• Characters who use memorable language.
• Failure – they have experienced some kind of failure.
• Heroism – their actions have a powerful influence on the narrative.

We then discussed what the state of mind of a character who feels at war might be; paranoid, anxious, a heightened state of alertness or strategy, a constant state of conflict, a state in which everyday life would be a struggle. Retreat would not be an option.

All of this would provide a natural drive for the character to take action.

We were then asked to consider our own work in light of this quote:

“For a story to resonate effectively with an audience at least one character in the story is likely to be challenged to change and grow across the arc of the story.” David Baboulene

It made me question the progression of the main character in the play I’m writing. Was she going through enough of a clear change?

I thought about the ways in which the obstacles she faces could change her and found a new ending for the play, re-writing the first scene to reflect this. I found that focusing on the growth of the character added much need depth to the play.