An online community where writers can meet to talk about the art, joy and passion of mystery writing. Mystery Writers Unite will address issues that writers face to bring their "idea" to a novel; topics like: plot points, character building, editing, self-publishing, writer's block, basic writing tools and resources and author interviews. If you like mystery writing or just like to write, I hope you will visit often and share in our community.
Monday, October 31, 2011
The Importance of STRONG Characters!
Here is a question for you: What are most books centered around or written about?
That is why it is imperative that you create characters that are believable and “real” for your reader. Characters are the backbone of fiction and without them there would be nothing to drive the narrative along.
Bring your characters to life by getting to know them as well as you know yourself. What are they like? How would they react in a given set of circumstances? How old are they? Are they married? Do they have siblings? Do they still have the love and support of parents? What do they do for a living? What kinds of things do they like / dislike? How were they raised? How do they react in a stressful situation? What color hair/skin do they have? Do they have any scars? The list could go on and on and on!
Once you know your character, as well as you know yourself, avoid describing them all at once to your readers. Instead, offer your reader some details here and there and allow the reader to get to know the character over a period of time. Also, avoid “telling” the reader about your character. The best way to make a character memorable is to “show” your reader who they are by what they do or how they react (e.g. if your character is someone that pinches every penny then portray them in a scene where they do just that).
When developing your character they will be more believable if they are not perfect because people are not perfect. A useful flaw to give your hero or heroin may be that they are not afraid to tell the occasional white lie. In contrast, a useful character flaw to give a villain is they are able to love something…someone.
Lastly, if you give your characters names which are distinctive, the reader is then less likely to confuse them. Using names with different initial letters is a help.
Two great resources for character development are: 45 Master Characters, which was reviewed on Mystery Writers Unite in a previous post entitled "Product Review 45 Master Characters" and The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook, which I also reviewed in a previous blog post entitled "Choosing Character Names". Both of these wonderful tools can be found by either clicking the previous links, by visiting my MUST HAVE Writing Tools For Authors page or you can order them from the picture links below: