Friday, September 24, 2010

We Interrupt the Random Stuff with Compelling Characters!

Today I'm joining about 150 other bloggers out there for a bit of a blogfest-blogpalooza and we are all giving you our spin on "Writing Compelling Characters!"

I don't generally do a lot of "how to" posts or what not, because I really think everyone has their own style and that is one of the most important things for a writer--knowing who you are and what your writing style is. You don't need me to tell you how to write.

With that in mind, I'm going to tell you my thoughts on compelling characters and something I always try to keep in mind:

If this was a real person, would I care about this character?

This is a question I ask myself because I think the compelling characters are the most memorable ones. Art can imitate life and vice versa. People who may only have a cameo, or very small, brief parts in our lives may end up making huge impacts that can stay with us forever. Chances are, if this is character is a person whose appearance in my real life could change my life, whether I love them, hate them or recognize them as just a passing acquaintance, will I remember these people/characters?

I guess, the other part of my big question to think about is the word "real." Compelling characters ARE real, they are multi-dimensional. There is depth to them beyond just being good or bad. They are characters that have flaws, strengths, weaknesses . . . these are characters with a soul - whether good or evil. And with that in mind, a compelling character is one thatis developed to where they could come right off the pages of a book and you could run into on your next trip to the grocery store.

Sorry if I'm a bit rambly in this post, running on a week of very little sleep and feeling almost zombie-ish. Plus, a little short on time with day job and kidlet stuff going on.

Regardless, those are just what my thoughts are. As a writer, if I can answer that real person question, I'm all set. As for you, what do you think?

26 comments:

Jen said...

Real is right. Relatable, strong and independent. Knowing your character, learning the ins and outs and sharing your thoughts with the reader, the more you as an author know about your character the better it will translate on paper.

Great job! Thanks for participating!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

LOL. Right now agents are salivating, expecting in a few months time their slush piles are going to filled with books lush with rich characterization after today's experiment. If we don't get it after this, we never will. :D

Danyelle said...

You're absolutely right. Compelling characters do have a real quality about them. :D

Lola Sharp said...

I equate real with believable. Which is vital to whether I want to hang out with a character for 300+pages.

Im feeling zombie-ish too. I'm thankful it's Friday!! :)

I'm your newest follower/friend. *waves* Nice to meet you! :)

Happy weekend,
Lola

Elana Johnson said...

I love that question. Do I care? And if I don't, why not? What's not real here?

I don't remember every character I read about, but the ones I rave about? I remember. I care.

PK Hrezo said...

Hi, Windy. I'm your new follower # 123. I look to real people to bring out real qualities in my characters. It's the quirks that fascinate me most. :)

Shallee said...

Being memorable is a huge part of a character being compelling. Thanks for sharing!

Michelle McLean said...

excellent post :) Gotta make those readers care!!!

Solvang Sherrie said...

Good question to ask. The characters I remember are from the books I loved the most. And I love them because the characters were so real.

ali said...

I like how you said your characters need to have SOUL. That's a bit nebulous, but I think we all can FEEL whether that soul's there or not in a story we read or write. I just love that - SOUL.

And I missed your random Friday - maybe you can be random TOMORROW??!!

Patti said...

You need to care and frankly you care about people even though they have weaknesses and flaws.

Wicked-Sassy said...

A soul and a story worth telling. Such a rare combination. I also liked your comment the other day that you have crushes on the guys in your story. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's totally healthy :)

Carolyn V. said...

I totally agree, they need to be real. That way the reader can connect with them. =)

Talei said...

Multi-dimensional - definitely! Nice post!! ;)

lbdiamond said...

Yes, highlighting what makes characters memorable is KEY! Great post! :D

Christine Fonseca said...

LOVE Stina's COMMENTS!! And your post!

Melissa said...

This is a great post. I hope you get some rest this weekend. Though I just want to say that your post remains coherent and well-written. So, no worries.

This is an excellent contribution.

Jackee said...

Great and true thoughts, Windy! (Even if you say you are tired. Ha, ha.)

Characters have to leap off at us. We have to know they're real enough to exist in the world, or have at some point in time, at least. The best chracters I've read are those that make me say, "Oh yeah, that wasn't some one I met, they were in a book I read once." True mark of a good writer when that happens. :o)

Have a great night, Windy!!

L.T. Elliot said...

Soul and real. I think both things that I truly adore in a character. Real is an especially big deal to me. I hope I can pull that off.

T. Anne said...

I'm with you I need to be so impressed that I remember those characters. I love it when they haunt me.

Mary Campbell said...

I like how you said sometimes people only play a cameo in lives but still have a big impact. It's so true - compelling people as well as characters standout when they are real.

Kirthi said...

Very nice, "characters with a soul" Great, informative post!

N. R. Williams said...

Enjoyed your post. I too feel a little zombie-ish, but for different reasons.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Nicole Zoltack said...

I think this is a great post for you feel almost zombie-ish. And I know all about lack of sleep - I have an almost two year old and a seven week old, both boys. :)

Jaime Theler said...

Compelling = real. I absolutely agree.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I think one of the great things about this experiment is that everyone gets to show off his/her personal style.

I agree compelling characters have to feel real.