Welcome to another round of the Blog Chain. This round’s questions comes from Shannon who wants to know:

Imagine this: when you’re gone, readers will remember your writing most for just one of these things: your characters, your plots, your settings, or your style. Which one (only one!) would you prefer over the rest? Why?

Wow! What a great question. And perfect for where I am in my life right now.

As many of you know things have been an emotional rollercoaster for the past several months. My mom is engaged in a rather difficult health battle. As I try to walk through this time with her and do my own emotional work on mortality and dealing with this kind of loss, I find myself ruminating about the sacred moments we’ve spent over my lifetime. Memories of sitting in her lap reading my favorite book, or cooking side by side. Our favorite moments filled with joy, or sharing life’s difficulties and a few tears.

As the memories swim around my thoughts, I am reminded that it is not the events themselves that make these memories sacred, but the relationship with my mom.  It is my time with her, the ways in which our relationship has grown and developed that I cling to.

Likewise, as I face the reality of my own eventual death, I know it is the relationships and connections formed that remain long after I go – the precious impact of one human being on another.

The same is true in my writing. I want my characters and their relationships to each other and the reader to be the stand-out thing in my work.

If I think about the books I’ve read throughout my life, it is not the setting I think about, or the writing, or the plot. Ultimately it is the characters that stay with me.

I want my words to be thought of the same way. I want my characters to be so rich, so full, so dynamic that they stay with the reader. Because ultimately, that is all that really matters, all that really lasts – how we connect with each other.

What are your thoughts? Would you want to be remembered for your characters, your settings or plot, or your writing style?

For more on this great topic, check out Kat’s take on the question yesterday, or Margie’s take tomorrow.

And for more about how I try to creat such rich characters, check out yesterday’s contribution to the great blogging experiment on writing compelling characters.


14 thoughts on “Blog Chain: When I’m Gone…

  1. Beautiful post, and I agree. The most important things in life are the people you surround yourself with, and so the characters should be the most important things in your novel. You’ll be surrounding yourself with them too, because they never leave you alone! 🙂

  2. I agree. Character was the first thing I thought of, plot coming second — but close because I want to reveal all the quirks and nuances of my characters through the unfolding of the action in a story.

    The reason I want my characters to endure is because when I create them, they become real in my head. They’re alive to me, and I want others to remember them, keep them alive, and maybe love them.

    Also, each carries an element of me, some more than others. And, even when they don’t, they represent the kind of people I’d like to meet or my attempts to understand the motivations of someone less than savory (and sometimes find myself in there, too).

    Keeping you and your mother in my thoughts,

  3. What a special post. I’m sorry to hear that your mom’s health is failing. It’s wonderful that you two have shared so many special memories.

    I agree with you about character. I read what some would call emotional novels, and love a good cry at the end of a book.

  4. I’m sorry, Christine, for what you’re going through.

    I would agree with you about wanting my characters to be what people remember most. But maybe that has to do with the awesome blog fest that happened friday, and because I’m working on the characterizations for my new project. 😉

  5. It’s interesting how many of us choose characters and yet how different our responses are on this particular choice. I’m sorry you are having to deal with difficulties with your mom. I am going through similar things with my spouse (with her health), and I completely understand everything you’re saying here.

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