Friday, September 24, 2010

Writing Compelling Characters

I think this is something we as writers think a lot about - I do anyway. I was contemplating recently a character in my current work-in-progress. He doesn't enter the stage until toward the end of the novel but plays a very important part. So, I was thinking ("a dangerous pastime - I know"*), how do I give him his own voice and make him someone my readers want to cheer for (or despise if he were a villain)?

I need to get to know my character better because I'm struggling with this. What motivates him? Why does he care? What things does he dislike/hate/fear? What is his biggest strength? What is his biggest weakness? Because we know him for such a short time, his growth will be less than that of the main characters, but we still need to see either a way he grows or a way he digresses - because we like him, I'm choosing growth. He will have to overcome an old and bitter grudge and come to realize that he was wrong.

Now, how do I give him a unique voice? That's a dilemma because I don't personally know anyone like him. I guess I need to dig a little deeper. Arrogant, always right, strong willed, justice-oriented (wait, I do know some attorneys...)

It's true, my characters are all bits and pieces of people I know or have known. It's so fun to people watch and use things we do or reactions we have - you know, truth is stranger than fiction...

These are just some of the ways I create my characters and I do hope they are compelling.

*LeFue and Gaston, Disney's Beauty and the Beast

1 comment:

  1. Yes, we do need to know our characters in order to make them compelling - we need to know them inside and out.

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