Compelling Characters Part II

While reading so many awesome character posts, I jotted down highlights and recurring themes.

And then someone (not mentioning any names but he lives in this house) recycled the paper.

But here’s what I remember:

  • Character charts
  • Flaws
  • Larger than life
  • Characters should be actively making decisions.
  • Believability
  • Voice

Um, yeah, and I’d have a whole lot longer list if it hadn’t been recycled.

So the big blogging experiment showed me that most writers know what it takes to make a real, authentic character.

Then how come we’re not all published?

Creating that unforgettable character takes more than knowledge. We can read all the craft books and blog posts in the world but it means nothing if we don’t learn how to apply that knowledge to our writing. 

And frankly, the ‘how’ in bringing our characters to life on the page would take more than a 250 word blog post. Because we need all the facets of writing from story idea to plotting to backstory to description to world building to dialogue to pacing to internal thoughts to voice and more.

And that’s where the read, read, read, and write, write, write comes in.

So who’s going to be taking a second look at their characters this week? And what will stay with you after the dust settles from the great blogging experiment?

19 Responses to Compelling Characters Part II

  1. Quinn September 27, 2010 at 6:41 am #

    I’m beginning the editing process for my novel; so, I’ll definitely be taking what I read into consideration when I’m going over the manuscript.

  2. Lynda Young September 27, 2010 at 7:33 am #

    Characters is something I’ve been taking a closer look at because I’m up to the editing stage for my WIP. The blog experiment was great fun and helpful too.

  3. anne gallagher September 27, 2010 at 9:35 am #

    I think when you get sick of your characters, that’s when you know them really well. I think when you talk to them more than you talk to anyone else, you know them really well. I think if you remember their birthday and forget your kid’s, you know them too well and they’re probably compelling enough.

    • Laura September 27, 2010 at 10:32 am #

      Anne – That cracked me up!

      Lynda – I’m in the editing process too and will be really looking at how I portrayed my characters. Funny thing, I’ll be looking at everything but the character in order to do that.

      Quinn – Good luck!

  4. Andrea September 27, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    I think the blogging experiment reminded me of how complex it is to create a good character. I’ll definitely be taking a second(and third and fourth) look at my own characters as I continue to revise my novel.

  5. write-brained September 27, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Oh yeah, the read read read and write write write thingamajig 😀 is definitely helpful!

  6. Misha September 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm #

    I totally agree. There’s theoretical knowledge, and putting it into practice.

    I just hope I get my five characters up to the standard I want…

  7. Carole Anne Carr September 27, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    What will stay? The excitement of sharing.

  8. Kelly Polark September 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    Good idea to do a wrap up. After Write On Con, I heavily revised my manuscript and I will look at my characters again after this blogfest (but next week, this week I have to get my house ready for sale!! Too much to do!)

  9. Creepy Query Girl September 27, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    By the end of my first draft, I know my characters pretty well. This last weekend I printed out my ms, shuffled the pages, and went through each page with a red pen. one of the things I made sure to note was places where I could add character description/ change actions if they’re over used or give a more well rounded view of the characters in the beginning chapters when I was still unsure myself how they were gonna turn out. The Blogging Experiment def. gave me food for thought!

    • Laura September 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

      Thanks everyone! I’ll be read, read, reading and write, write, writing to put everything into practice! And yes, I think I”ll take the fun of us all doing somethign together and sharing!

  10. Paul September 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    Hi Laura, I think that blogging experiment was intellectually stimulating but you are right. We need to read, read, read, and write, write, write.

    And congrats w/your show/tell post for it being chosen as one of the best tweets for writers last week!!

  11. Susan R. Mills September 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    I didn’t make it around to every single post that was a part of the experiment, but I did make it to quite a few. I gained something from every single one. It was helpful.

    • Laura September 27, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

      Susan – Yes, they were all helpful! I made it to as many as I could!

      Paul – Thanks. I had no idea that post got that recognition. Sometimes, I’m out of the loop! 🙂

  12. Karen Strong September 27, 2010 at 8:46 pm #

    Yes, definitely love a flawed characters who makes active decisions (and mistakes).

  13. Stina Lindenblatt September 28, 2010 at 2:41 am #

    LOL. Yep, I analyzed my characters this past weekend for my new WIP. Hopefully I’ll be able to make them come alive on the page when I start the first draft. Or at the very least during revisions.

  14. Robert Guthrie September 28, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Thanks for all of this… which brings us back to writing and what I like to remember: just do it.

  15. Quinn September 29, 2010 at 7:35 am #

    I just wanted to let you know that I gave you an award on my blog.

  16. Carolyn Abiad October 3, 2010 at 3:10 pm #

    I’ve also posted an award over on my blog. Hope it’s not the same kind as Quinn’s!

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