Wednesday, February 3, 2016

What a Character!

A popular post from June 2010

By Julie Wright

I had the pleasure of speaking at a conference with Barbara Hambly who is an amazing writer and someone in the audience asked her, “I’ve done all this research on this history and the way the people dress and how they talk and what they ate back then, and I know the history completely, but there’s just so much that I don’t know where to begin. Where do YOU begin when you’re writing a historical piece?”

Her answer was twenty shades of awesome. She said, “I begin where I begin on any of my books, with the character.”

So when you begin writing a book, no matter the genre, whether it be romance, science fiction, horror, historical . . . whatever—you need to remember to start with the character. Good characters make stories real to readers.

And in order to make your characters real, you must make them behave like real people. Give them their own history. The history or past that you give them will dictate what kind of friends they have, what kind of enemies they have, whether or not they are the type of person who will turn the other cheek or the type who will put a knife in the heart of their enemies. Know your character's past. Know their faults, their strengths, their weaknesses (which is not always to be considered a fault), their hopes, dreams, ambitions.

Even if the back story doesn't end up in the book, you as the author needs to know.

Remember to include the characters, thoughts, feelings and actions along with their dialogue, so you can paint a complete picture of that character for the reader, so that the reader cares, relates to, and feels invested in the character.

Your story is important, but a good story can be made great with an amazing character.

5 comments:

Kimberly said...

I like how you summed that up. Character really is the difference between a good and a great story.

Krista said...

Hey, I just blogged about this! It's true!

Anonymous said...

When I daydream about my characters or have discussions with my husband about what they would do or who would play them in a movie version (my fantasy!), that's when Iknow theya re alive: they stand up on their own.

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

So true! Your protagonist can make or break your story. Thanks for sharing your insight. Great post!

Amery Barry said...

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