Saturday, January 15, 2011


Characters are the heart and soul of good fiction. Whether hero, heroine, villain or secondary character, each one enriches the story, or they should. The villain should frighten or disgust while intriguing. How and why could anyone do those things? Likewise, if you don’t see, hear or feel with the hero or heroine, the story is incomplete. These characters play off each other so villains have to be bad and heroes have to be good.
The hardest part of writing fiction is creating characters that walk off the page and into your heart. For that brief period of time while you’re reading the book, you are part of that world, so the place and time are also characters in the story.
All genres are the same: good characters = good stories = keeper books.
So where do good characters come from?
No really, some characters just pop into your head and tell you their whole story; what could be easier than that? To me-the writer, characters are people with feelings, families, like and dislikes. Oh, and they have birthdays, celebrate holidays, get hurt, angry and make mistakes. Other characters are difficult to define, hard to control and undisciplined. As a writer those are the challenging ones. They are also the ones that keep me up at night. They don’t conform. They’re rebels and invariably they are the ones we fall in love with, because they break the rules we can’t or won’t break.
Good characters are what make you want to “keep” a book and reread it. When you open the cover of a book you’ve read before you’re connecting with the characters. Consciously or subconsciously you’re looking for something the characters have to offer; a good laugh, a good cry, suspense and drama. Maybe you want good to triumph over evil or to fall in love with the hero vicariously through the heroine. ;-)
Rereading a book is like opening a bottle of wine to share with a friend. You laugh, you cry, you cheer the characters on to their journeys end. It’s a comfortable visit, to a known destination, with good characters to share the journey.
So ask yourself, what characters do you enjoy revisiting time and time again?

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ella, :-) For me, usually I get a good hold on one leading character and have to struggle to connect with the other. I never know which is going to elude me. But building my characters is part of the fun.