Character is possibly the trickiest thing for a writer to make work. It’s one of the most insubstantial and abstract elements in writing, but it’s also one of the most vital: when people love a character, they’ll return to their books again and again, sometimes solely for the “hang-out” appeal.
More so, as writer David Liss puts it, “Character is story,” meaning the best stories have conflicts and plot developments whose origins lie in the characters. So not only is characterization vital in its own right, when properly done, it act as a catalyst for nearly all other parts of the story.
So how to make characters work? How to make them feel “real”?
The thing to remember is that characters have their own agency, their own individualized wants, needs, and assumptions about the world. A writer must imagine that what they would be doing if the story never [...]
Continue reading Robert Jackson Bennett: Character
When I began work on my first novel – The Six-Gun Tarot – I made a decision to make as many of the characters in my tiny little town of Golgotha, Nevada, as unique as possible. I wanted everybody in the town to have some dark secret, some special gift, or some unique history. I have received some very positive feedback on my characters in Six-Gun, but I don’t think it was just giving the shop-keep a wife who was a head in a jar, or making my female protagonist a member of a secret Lilith cult, and a living weapon to boot— I think the reason my characters breathed for people was because I tried to make them, well…people.
At this year’s RavenCon, I was fortunate enough to be a guest and to have the honor of being on a panel with some very cool folks discussing the concept [...]
Continue reading R. S. Belcher: Building Character
Nicola Pallas is not one of the main characters in the Libriomancer series, but to me, she’s one of the most important.
In the world of the books, Nicola lives outside of Chicago, where she serves as the Regional Master for the Porters, a magical organization founded by Johannes Gutenberg. She manipulates magic through song, and is powerful enough to knock you on your ass just by calling you on your cellphone and singing a little tune. She raises chupacabras, which she’s been trying—with some success—to cross-breed with poodles.
She’s also autistic.
I began writing this series shortly after one of my children was diagnosed as autistic. This is one of the reasons I decided to write Nicola the way I did, and one of the reasons I was so invested in getting her right.
What does that mean? For starters, it means I wanted her to be a real, [...]
Continue reading Jim C. Hines: Inventing Nicola Pallas
One of the hardest things, for me, when writing a book is keeping the plot straight; by which I mean keeping track of it and making sure it makes sense. Which is probably why I always, and I mean always, wonder why I persist in writing series. And series with lots of characters with intersecting plot lines. The book I’ve got coming out now, Betrayal, is the second in my epic fantasy series, The Twins of Saranthium. It’s set in a world of deserts and jungles, and has a vast cast of characters, including ancient resurrected gods seeking to enslave an entire people, warring desert clans and serpent riders who have lost control of the beasts that once protected them. Plus of course the main characters, the twins, who must find a way to stop it all. It is also the middle book in the trilogy and gave me more [...]
Continue reading Lara Morgan: Plot Wrangling and Highlighter Love . . .
Did you read NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM AND THE TERRIFYING VULTURE HAT?
No. You didn’t. Because even though Neville could’ve been the Chosen One, Voldemort decided it was Harry instead and set about killing off his parents and giving him a scar.
It all comes down to choices. Your choice, as the god and writer. And the choices your characters make.
First of all, let’s determine if your story is character-driven. Consider your main character. Does that story revolve around who they are, specifically, in such a way that it wouldn’t exist without them? Are their history, back story, and skills integral to every mile marker of the story? Could you replace them with another passerby and have the same end result? Could you have the same story if you made Neville the hero?
If you can’t replace your protagonist with a [...]
Continue reading Delilah S Dawson: How To Plot A Character-Driven Story, or Why Harry Potter Should Probably Be A Complete D-bag
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Hello Everyone! I’m so glad to be back. I’ve missed you all. Okay, really I’ve been reading and lurking, so I’ve been here, but I did miss getting a chance to talk and visit with you.
I’ve been busy with a lot of projects, but the one I’m here to talk about today is titled Trace of Magic. I’ve been describing it as an alternate-history, urban-fantasy, noir, romance thing. You might ask what that means. It’s set in a never-existed Colorado. Diamond City sits on the ege of an ancient prehistoric volcano where the diamond mining outpaces that in South Africa. The town is largely run by competing magical mafias (called Tyets), who are in the middle of a major turf war. Riley Hollis is my main character.
obligatory and updated author photo
I love Riley. I had such fun writing her. In fact I’m still having [...]
Continue reading Talking about character–Trace of Magic
Last week I began the discussion of keeping books and story lines fresh as we move through a series, by talking about character, and in particular shaking up familiar dynamics between (among) two (or more) characters. I focused my post on the core relationship found in the Thieftaker books: the rivalry between my hero, thieftaker and conjurer Ethan Kaille, and his nemesis, the brilliant, deadly, and beautiful Sephira Pryce. The basic dynamics of their relationship had long since been established in the first two books of the Thieftaker Chronicles, Thieftaker and Thieves’ Quarry. Now, in the third book of the series, A Plunder of Souls, which was released a week ago today, I fundamentally altered those dynamics by introducing a new adversary for Ethan, Captain Nate Ramsey, who antagonized Sephira and forced her into an unlikely alliance with Ethan.
But there are other ways to keep a storyline fresh, even [...]
Continue reading D. B. Jackson: On Plotting — Keeping Things Fresh