Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Characters: Keep 'Em Real and Keep 'Em Coming

 Writing the MAC (Marita, Angel, Charli) novels was fun, in large part because I really liked my characters. As I move forward into other fiction with new characters, I want to recapture that feeling while still creating characters with personalities of their own. 

Lately, I've been revisiting old characters while working on new ones, which definitely keeps things interesting. And even though the post below is more than four years old, I still feel the same way about the characters that inhabit my fiction (whether it's what I'm reading or what I'm writing), as well as those in the movies and television shows I consume. (There's a reason I can watch shows like Friends, Gilmore Girls, The Golden Girls, The Big Bang Theory, and The West Wing over and over again). 

And, it's the same reason that a book either captures me or doesn't in the first few pages, and a series either captures me or doesn't in the first couple of episodes. If I'm on the fence, I might persist for a bit but if those characters don't make me want to find out more about them, I'm onto the next piece of entertainment.

When it comes to fiction, it's a writer's job to make the reader want to turn the page -- or keep tuning in. I hope my books do that for you.

coffeebeanworks via Pixabay

I'd just finished a post about merging my passion with self-confidence on my Organizing by STYLE blog when it occurred to me that I like my people the way I like my characters.


Or maybe it's the other way around. One of the reasons I started writing inspirational fiction was that, at the time I started, I couldn't manage to find characters in that genre who felt real. They were too good, and the things they agonized over didn't seem worth the angst to me. I wanted to read about (and root for) real people with real problems. People I could identify with. Give me an interesting character -- or, better yet, an interesting cast of characters -- and I don't actually care much about the plot. I'm more interested in the people.

So here, in no particular order, are a few things I want in a character, whether I'm writing her (or him) or reading about her (or him).

  • I want a character who messes up, and knows when to laugh at her mistakes.
  • I want a character I'd love to sit down with for a nice, long chat at my neighborhood Starbucks.
  • If a character is unlikable, I want to know why.
  • I want a character who engages in snappy dialogue -- which means I probably want a couple of characters in the same book who do this so they can talk to each other.
  • I want a character who thinks with her heart, at least some of the time.
  • I want a character who doesn't tell me her entire life story in one meeting. Let me get to know you, and then I'll be dying to know your backstory.
  • I want a character who is longing for something...or someone.
How about you? What do you want in a character?

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