Monday, July 29, 2013

Writing Tips - Character Development

If you've been living anywhere but under a rock, you know about the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. I've read then all and eagerly await the next in the series. Janet Evanovich creates richly developed characters in this great series and I'm going to share with you how she does that. These excerpts come from How I Write - Secrets of a Bestselling Author by Janet Evanovich with Ina Yalof.

Memorable characters. It's what makes a good story a great story. In order to create memorable characters you must breathe life into them. Make them living beings with a personality.

"It's important to tell a good story, but it's critical to have memorable characters. It's not enough to describe a character's physical attributes and to tell us what he does and where he goes. You must bring your characters to life, make them believable and with caring about. Do this by motivating them and giving them personalities that set them apart from any other character you've read or written about. The deeper and richer your characters are, and the more emotion you put into them, the more your story will come to life. .... It doesn't matter if your reader loves or hates your characters. What matters is that the reader feels something. He must never be ambivalent toward these people, which means that as the writer, you can never be ambivalent, either." -- Ina Yalof

Tips from Janet Evanovich:

1. A well-developed character is multidimensional, with quirks and flaws, dreams, motivations, and values.
2. Your character must always want something. When something or someone stands in the way of your character getting what he wants, you get the beginning of conflict. It's the conflict that sets up the story. How that character meets the challenge and overcomes the obstacles of the conflict defines that character.
3. All writers are people watchers. If you want characters that ring true, take a really close look at the people around you. Begin with them, and then let your imagination run wild. Also, keep your ear to the ground and develop and ability to listen.
4. Everything you see and hear and experience can find its way into a story. Just store all this stuff up in your brain and retrieve it as you need it.
5. Television and movies are another source of inspiration for characters.
6. Everyday life is a limitless resource.
7. One element that makes up a well drawn character is honesty.
8. If you make a character real and vulnerable and kind, as soon as you put that character in jeopardy or any type of distress, the reader will always root for that person to win, or succeed, or make it out safely. To make a character vulnerable, just keep him a little bit unsure of himself and his choices. That's one way of connecting the reader with the character, which is what you want. It also keeps him wondering what's next.
9. Humor is the icing, but character is the cake.
10. When it comes to research you really need to know what you are doing.


There you have it. How to develop a memorable character. Now get out there and start creating!