Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CRAFT: Characters

A few days ago, I listed my favorite books of 2010, but today I'm wondering... who are my favorite characters from the books I've read in 2010? Do the two lists match up? No.

Favorite Characters (just from my 2010 reading):
1. Lula (a secondary character from the Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich)
2. Lucy Valentine (m.c. from Deeply, Desperately by Heather Webber)
3. Mercy Thompson (m.c. from Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs)

Why are they my favorites?
1. They're memorable.
2. They're all strong and yet insecure women. ( strong & insecure = conflict!)

Readers need to bond with the characters in some way and become invested in them. Many agents say that a reader needs to know the main character's name on page one. Other agents say that the m.c. needs to "do" something within the first two pages.

Make a list of your favorite characters. And, then go back and look at the writing with the craft in mind. What did the author DO with the writing to make you love and remember that character?

1. Lula is always trying a new diet (and failing to lose weight). She wears clothes that are way to small for her. And yet, she's proud. There's conflict in those attributes, which helps me connect with her and remember her.

2. Lucy Valentine uses numbers and math to calm herself when she gets nervous. She has a "gift" that she doesn't want to use. Her quirky behavior makes me smile and gets me emotionally involved in her success.

3. Mercy Thompson is a very independant and strong woman, and yet she has occasional panic attacks that immobilize her. = Conflict!

Is your m.c. a hero? Are heros always perfect? Give your hero a flaw.

When your m.c. is involved in a conversation with another character, create conflict by having your m.c. say one thing aloud, but think the opposite in his/her head.

Characters become more memorable when we become emotionally involved in their success. Conflicts of varying degrees help achieve this goal.

Here are some more posts on great characters:

Who are your favorite characters, and why?


  1. Strong and insecure--that's an intriguing combination! ;o)

    In most of my novels, my MCs don't start out to be a hero, and some of them are quite annoying or egotistical. They do grow, though. My WIP has more of a hero, but he's a little misguided. And also with a bit of an ego that has to be notched down as the story progresses.

    That's a great suggestion, about having the MC say one thing but THINK another!

    Thanks for entering my 100 follower giveaway!!

  2. I read a scifi book this year entitled red lightning. The author used 1st person and voice to connect you to the mc on the first page.