Ah yes, the GREAT BLOGGING EXPERIMENT is here. And today’s topic? Writing Compelling Characters. Love this topic…but, I’ll admit, I am keeping this one a bit brief. Why? Big presentation day. And I am busy prepping for it.
But, I couldn’t pass up the great blogging experiment…
So, here it is:
Nothing is more amazing to me than reading a book with a character that just sticks with you long after you finished the book. Hunger Game’s Katniss was that kind of character for me. Good characters are full, rich, diverse. They are a bit messy, confused, broken. The villains are a little redemptive; the heroes, a bit villanous.
In short – THEY ARE REAL.
But how do you write compelling characters?
I think it starts with the layers. As human being we are all diverse in our thinking and our behaviors. Our characters need to be just as diverse and deep.
Typically, I start with a basic description of the character – not in terms of looks (though that may be part of it), but in terms of the “thing” he or she is into. In my current novel, my mc is a cutter.
Once I have a word or two describing them, I make a list of their traits. For my cutter, my list went something like this:
Notice these are emotional and behavioral traits – yeah, that is always where I start. It’s just the lens I look through. Analyzing behavior for a living tends to have its advantages.
I continue with the lists until I have a sense of her in my head. After which, I start to write.
Through the writing process I begin to develop the layers. I ask myself questions about the character – their likes/dislikes. The things that make them happy, etc. Most of the info is never known to the reader, but it helps me write a stronger character.
The layers come through the editing usually. I specifically look at character arc and the overall richness of the characters – are my heroes a little bad; are my villains a little good – that sort of thing.
Bottom line – writing compelling characters is all about creating a believable character that is rich in their layers and diversity. Someone we can relate to on some level, even when they are completely different from us – their humanity just rings true.
I wrote a lot more on this topic a while back – so if you want to know my “secret” of my “method writing” with regards to compelling characters, click here.
And be sure to check out Elana’s LONG LIST of bloggers participating today. It is truly an amazing list!