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Monday, November 5, 2012

Those strange beasts: characters

Characters are vital to any story. They can carry even the most hackneyed plot devices and keep readers hooked through the darkest, most awful storylines. Characters can be good and noble, dark and dirty, liars, cheats, or Dudley Do-rights -- but they have to be consistent, believable, and real.

IME, my ability to put a consistent, believable and real character on the page is directly proportional to how real the character is in my head. The following blog posts are some of how I go about developing characters. Chances are that you'll do it differently, but maybe something here will be helpful.

For me, character and plot are closely entwined. Characters drive my plots, and plots drive my characters. Being a plotter (not a pantser,) I do a lot of this work before I begin writing -- but writing is also an important part of developing my characters. I keep learning more about them, right up until the story is finished.

If you have anything character-related that you'd like a second opinion on (character development arcs, motivations, background, etc.) feel free to email it to unicornbellsubmissions at gmail dot com, or post it in the comments and get even more feedback. Questions, suggestions, pester me for more links, don't be shy.

Stories about how your characters surprised you or hijacked the plotline are always fun, too. Or whatever shenanigans they get up to, in your head. I have something like a green room where my characters can lounge on sofas, eat pizza and goof off. A lot of crazy stuff goes down in there. What about you?


Charity Bradford said...

Heh, heh. Those wonderful characters. Sometimes they're shy and take a while to get to know, others come on the scene fully formed.

I love your idea of the green room. When I'm going to sleep at night I dream about my characters and it isn't always in novel situations. We just sort of hang out.

The coolest thing that's happened recently is I found some information in the real world that suddenly makes my characters need for a certain necklace make sense. She knew all the time but she never told me. Good thing I just let her have her way. I'll be writing about all that during my blog tour next year.

Take away--go with your gut and what your character is telling you. Even if you don't yet understand it.

DEZMOND said...

being believable is the most important thing I demand from characters... can't stand those characters which are implausible and unrealistic... the same goes for the plot

Anonymous said...

I start with the characters, the build everything around them.

Nice post!

Angela Brown said...

Being a plotser, I tend to plot a little up front just for general directions of where I'm starting and where I'd like to end. The characters tend to guide things along the way, adding a twist here and shaking things up over there then eventually making it to our agreed upon final destination.

Invariably, I just love going along for the rides. Characters can be such "characters".

prerna pickett said...

the character is what drives the plot, so I agree, I love reading a good, well-rounded, character.

Alicia Willette-Cook said...

Indeed! Character driven stories is where it's at! (For me anyway). I love complex, flawed, screwed up characters. They drive my plots. So it stands to reason if you have twisty characters, you're gonna have twisty unpredictable plots.