Monday, February 15, 2010

Characters - What's your recipe?

What is it we all want readers to take away from our work? Lots of writers have different ideas about this, and I'm always curious what makes other writers out there (published or not) tick. So I figured I'd start the conversation myself and see where, if anywhere, it goes.

I want my readers to come away with a solid understanding of who my characters are, and to identify with them as though they were real people.

I think they have to be memorable to do that.

So how do we go about creating memorable characters? Well, I always start with some particular emotion or motivation that I want to stand out. Sometimes I'll even use that to help me find a character's name, or maybe a specific trait or physical feature.

I also think they have to have multiple flaws. Few readers want the Johnny Good-guy who is always polished, perfect, and unflappable. How boring is that?

And they have to have humor. Ever met a cop who didn't have a good sense of humor? They see the worst that society has to offer, and in many cases they have to laugh to keep from crying. Or a PI who isn't a wiseass? (I think you have to pass a comedy test to get your license here in NC, to be honest).

Next I stir in a few friends that can help define personality by offering them situations and conversations in which they can reveal their character.

Bake it in the pressure-cooker of a really tough case, and hopefully you wind up with a character people will think they know. If it's done really well, they'll even miss that character and want to hear more about him/her/it(?), which is the ultimate compliment, right?

So what about you guys? What's your recipe?

Rescue of the Week - SQUIRREL

Well it's been a while since I put up a rescue. For those pets who haven't gotten picked up, I apologize. So without further ado, here is a sweet little lady named SQUIRREL!

For more information about this animal, call:
SPCA of Wake County at (919) 772-2326
Ask for information about animal ID number A061588