Wednesday, August 8, 2012

CHARACTERS

When I create characters I spend time thinking about their names, how they look, what motivates them, their strengths and their weaknesses. I observe the world around me and take 'snippets' of people to create new people. I wondered about other authors and their thoughts on characters and wanted to share this with you:

Dean Koontz - One dimensional characters do not engage the reader's empathy, and if the reader does not worry about what might happen to them, suspense is aborted.

Stephen King - It's dialogue that gives your cast their voices, and is crucial in defining their characters - only what people do tells us more about what they're like, and talk is sneaky: what people say often conveys their characters to others in ways of which they, the speakers, are completley unaware. Well crafted dialogue will indicate if a character is smart or dumb, honest or dishonest, amusing or an old sobersides.

Sidney Sheldon - When I begin a book, I start out with a character. I have no plot in mind. the character begets other characters and soon they begin to take over the novel and chart their own destinies.

W. Somerset Maugham - People are too elusive, too shadowy, to be copied; and they are also too incoherent and contradictory. The writer does not copy his originals; he takes what he wants from them, a few traits that have caught his attention, a turn of mind that has fired his imagination, and therefrom constructs his character.

How do you go about creating your characters?

Keep writing....



32 comments:

  1. Sometimes I make a list to start with, jotting down lots of details, and a few traits. I like to get them talking, because once I hear their voice they become more real.

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    1. Hello Maria, thanks for your comment. The art of creative writing is truly a special gift. I always enjoy reading about how other writers create. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. For me creating a new character is like meeting a new person. Sometimes I take to them right away and/or learn a lot about them immediately. With others it takes time to get to know them and discover what they're really like. Often that means a big rewrite once I've started to understand a character!

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    1. Hi Patsy - I'm thinking this is kind of like 'real' people where some are keen to reveal who they are while others let you know them a little at a time.

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  3. This is my first visit (I've been blog-surfing, I've no idea where I came from! Thanks for sharing these quotes. I sometimes steal people I know (shhh, don't tell) and put them in different situations, but another trick I find useful is to start with a phrase or the grain of a person and write for ten minutes straight without stopping to think in their voice. It's amazing how quickly a character can assert him/herself!

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    1. Welcome broken biro and thank you for leaving a comment. I like your 'trick'. I must give that a go.

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  4. I am always observing people for ideas. If I see an elderly woman, for example, in the grocery store, I often wonder what her life was like when she was young. I listen for accents and attitudes and all sorts of other good things. I even think about traits of family and friends and think about how a snippet might figure in to a character's personality.

    Thanks for sharing the quotes. Good food for thought!

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    1. You are welcome Karen and thank you for sharing. Us writers are 'observers' of life and it is so interesting for me to read how other writers observe the world around them.

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  5. Howdy Miss Diane. I was just passing through and… well, that ain’t quite true. Since Frances’s blog wouldn’t drop the window and allow me to reply to you there, I figured I’d come on over here and talk to you directly.

    ‘A curtsey your way Mr V - I have missed you sir.’

    Thank you, I never had a lady curtsey to me before. And what you said… well, that’s the sweetest thing I ever heard. Thank you Miss Diane, I’ve missed you too.

    As for your question, well, writing the way I do, I sometimes need a stooge. But when the dialogue starts, strange things begin to happen. Dialogue brings life and the stooge’s personality grows. And before you know it, you’ve got full blown characters talking back with opinions of their own. That’s how Cordelia and Sheriff came to life. Nameless too (the dialogue might have been one sided but his character developed through his reactions.)

    Well, I’d better be getting along now. Keep smiling Miss Diane. Stay happy. You too, Miss Patsy.

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    1. Ahhh Mr V, forever charming. I appreciate you stopping by and entertaining me with your words. You sir are a true story teller. Thank you for sharing your experience about creating characters - It is true about the 'strange things'... perhaps it is the magic of writing. Keep safe.

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  6. Thanks for the quotes, Diane. I tend to use dialogue I overhear or embroider things that have happened to people I know - but my characters are always completely fictional. And interesting post. :-)

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    1. Hi Amanda, you're welcome and thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

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  7. I'm not very good at describing my characters. I let the dialogue and their inner thoughts do the work for me.

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    1. Hi Dream It, thanks for your comment. Whatever works ;-)

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  8. I usually have a strong sense of their voice and motivations... what I'm rubbish at is describing them!

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    1. Voice and motivation is so important and I doubt very much that you are 'rubbish' at describing them Talli :-)

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  9. Hi Diane, great post. It’s interesting to hear how other writers work. My characters don’t start talking to me until I’ve got their names right. Once that comes then a whole personality develops and the fun begins. I keep lists of names down the years and go to that when I’m stuck, but mostly my names come from the characters’ backgrounds (home town, social status etc)

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    1. Hello Rena. Thank you. I like the idea of keeping a list of names. Thanks for sharing :-)

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  11. My problem is that I can see the characters in my mind's eye but sometimes forget that my readers can't! It's a WIP for me to write good descriptions of my characters (notwithstanding the 'show don't tell' rule, of course).

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    1. Good point about remembering us writers need to make sure our readers see what we see. Thanks for your comment Julia :-)

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  12. I have to 'hear' their voices before I'm happy with characters. I ask myself what they carry in their handbags/pockets and what they keep in the 'junk' drawer (we all have a junk drawer, right? :))
    I always have a character or characters before I have any idea of the plot. I just love playing with characters.

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    1. I do like those questions you ask Shirley - good point. Thanks for your comment. x

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  13. What a thought provoking question? My fiction is definitely character led. I have a basic idea for a story (usually the conflict)but I never have a plot until I find out more about my characters. Then it's like a lightbulb going on for me - and joy - because then I know what the story might actually be about!

    Thanks for the interesting and wise quotes - I love reading what great writers have to say.

    Janice xx

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