One Writer’s Journey

May 15, 2017

Characters: Creating People that Live and Breathe and Can Walk Off the Page

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:46 am
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Recently I read a really interesting post at Heather Alexander’s blog, Interrobangs.  Titled “Antagonists Need Love Too,” Alexander wrote about being as nurturing and in-depth in the creation of your antagonist as you are with your protagonist.  The reason for this is that she sees to many ho-hum flat antagonists in middle grade fiction.  They are bullies who bully for the sake of bullying.  They have no back story.  They have no justification for their actions.

The techniques she recommends will help you create not only viable antagonists but also living, breating secondary characters.  Alexander asks writers to create back stories, to give non-human characters human trains, to show what they like, show where “bad” characters went bad, and show how the character is similar to your protagonist, give the history of their connection.

But there is one more thing I’d like to challenge you to do.  Develop the connection between yourself and the character.  In short, how is this character like you?  What does she feel that you feel? Want that you want?  Believe that you believe?  Develop these connections because these quantities, known to you, will help the character feel genuine.

Personally, this can be a lot of fun because it gives you the opportunity to act out through your characters in ways that you, as a human being, would not normally do.  In one fantasy that I wrote, I wrote a protagonist who is a misunderstood youngest child.  I’ve never been the youngest child.  In fact, I’m the oldest.  But I know what its like to be misunderstood.

It was easy enough, in writing the antagonist, to write from the perspective of an oldest child.  After all, I know what that feels like.

In creating this character relatioship, I drew on what I knew for both characters.  After reading my first several chapters, several people commented that I had very clearly shown how I felt as a youngest child.  I didn’t correct them.  I just took the compliment and smiled.  I had created a character the reader could believe.

–SueBE

 

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March 25, 2016

People Your Books with Plausible Characters

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:28 am
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Summer, Young Woman, Hat, Striped Dress, Blue DressNothing pulls me out of a story faster than a character who acts or speaks in a way that isn’t believable.  The absolute worst are male characters who do something or say something that just doesn’t ring true.  And, when this happens, the author is always female.  Always.

Most recently, I was listening to an audio book with multiple POV characters.  Sometimes we were in the villain’s head without knowing which character the villain was.  Sometimes we were in a suspects head; at times like this, we always knew which character’s head we were in.  Other times we were in the head of one of the two main characters — one male and the other female.

The female main character was a well-educated woman in her mid-twenties.  She was a researcher who often worked with the lawyers of well-healed clients.  She was used to being around money but not snobbish about it.

The male main character was an ex-cop who co-owns his own business.  He and his brother had been orphaned and then raised by a military uncle.  The pair now use computer analysis to help solve cold cases for US law enforcement.

Normally, I had no problem following along as the narration jumped from one POV to another.  But then the time came when I thought I was in the male-lead’s head.  He’s watching the female lead approach thinking about how fetching she looks in a sun dress.  In fact, it is his favorite type of dress.

Whoa.  What?

I’m sorry.  I just couldn’t buy it.  I could have gone along with him liking the blue dress, the short dress, even her new dress, but the sundress?  Uh, no.  Not this particular character.

Slip up on this type of detail and you risk pulling your reader out of the story.  Do that and you just might lose them.

–SueBE

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