Monday, May 10, 2010

Creating Compelling Characters

One of my critique partners, Christina Farley, posted some great links that got me thinking about how I create my characters. I don't plan too much about them in advance. I jot down a few key characteristics, their family and friends, a name. I think about what they want, of course, since that's often the heart of the novel. But mostly, the rest of what makes my characters emerges as the story develops.

That's okay, for a first draft, which for me is all about getting a storyline that works. Now I'm thinking that the second draft really should be all about the characters.  I need to make sure to:

1. Bring out their unique or quirky qualities to make them memorable.
2. Make sure everything they say and do is consistent with their personalities (they are not necessarily the same as mine, which means I might need to consciously think about this instead of just letting it happen).
3. Include their emotional reactions.
4. Take a few risks, reaching beyond my own comfort zone.

If I don't connect with the main character when I'm reading, a book just doesn't capture my attention. Paying more attention to character is a different way for me to think about revising, but definitely important.


  1. Thanks for the link & post. I sometimes struggle with compelling characters, so this is much-needed!

  2. Thought provoking post. One of my favorite writers told me recently to "go deeper." And I interpret this as taking risks, as you mention. Sometimes its challenging to get characters out of our comfort zone, but when we do, it gets very interesting, no?

    Thanks for stopping by today!

  3. Angela, sometimes I think I need to struggle MORE with my characters.

    Karen, it does get interesting when you let your characters push past some of your own boundaries - but wow, it's hard to do that.

  4. Thanks for the shout out. You brought up some good points. I'm really finding that keeping those kinds of things about my main character also is helping me with my other characters so they're stronger as well.


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