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  • Patricia Hollett

    The Author

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    Currently working on:

    Fallon -70,094 words
    Forest Born -67408 words
    Ice Whisperings -2997 words
    Garrett -9623words
    Northern Blood -11658 words
    Winter's Reign -787 words

    Completed

    Blood Harvest - 998 words
    Keeping Secrets - 1500 words
    Misunderstood -700 words
    Sarah's Amulet-A Necromancer Slave Story -6004 words
    The Cult -1998 words
    Unfortunate Blessings -454 words

    To Be Published

    Artistic Escape - flash (to be pub 2011)
    Happy Birthday Honey - flash (to be pub 2011)
    Making Choices - flash (to be pub 2011)
    Together Forever - flash (to be pub 2011)

    Published

    Allie's Clown - 1500 words (Published on Dark Valentine website March 2011)
    Valeria's Knight - 4807 words (Published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine)
    The Angel Wars/Post-Apocalyptic Emails at the end of time-A collaboration with author Tammy Crosby (Published by PillHill Press in August 2011)
    Valeria's Knight - 4807 words (Published in Night to Dawn Magazine-September 2011)

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Recipe for Writing-Creating Memorable Characters


I started reading a book about creating characters and realized that I’d written approximately 70k without really KNOWING my characters.

I mean I knew my characters, the parts they played in the story, their roles in the plot, who my main protagonist was, and the other main characters in the story, how they all fit together and independently, but what I didn’t know was all the details that made up those main people I was writing about.

Not surprisingly, I was able to make it through 25 chapters and although there were insights into their lives and the plot danced around aspects of their lives, I found the personal connection to my characters could have been much better.

I could picture my characters vividly in my mind, and I could see them interacting as they played out their roles. I didn’t give the reader a view into the personalities, the physical appearances, the psychological, cultural, moral and social attributes of the main players in the story, and I knew missing this made my story weak.

I’ve read stories where I simply loved the main characters and could identify with them, because the author had given me enough information that the character seemed real and pulled me into the story. I’ve also read stories that the main characters left me cold. Those are the stories where I felt I had no desire to follow their journey. The main characters took a back seat to the story and the plot, and yes, while one can argue that it’s still a story, I find it more fulfilling to follow someone’s journey and progress. That’s what makes a good story for me.

And so, I started to read about character development instead of writing and editing my manuscript. I needed to know how to ‘bring my characters to life’.

The key here is that if you can’t identify with the characters in a book, their emotions, their interaction with others, how they feel, why they do what they do, and what motivates them, why would anyone else want to read or know about them?

I’ve realized that I must do this with my characters as well, so with all my research done, I’ve set about detailing each character in my story, and all the details that make up that person’s make-up. Age, appearance, tags, what others think of them, how they act, what drives them, what motivates them, and all the psychological, cultural, moral and social attributes that make them who they are.

I realize I’m doing this backwards and should have done it from the very beginning, but my characters were so clear in my head and I did have a rough sketch of them laid out for reference, just not enough to really know them intimately. Funny thing is my characters have their own personalities and fight with me about the way they want to be written. I want good, they want bad, or vice versa. So, outlining them more clearly will help with that struggle.

It is a learning process for me, and probably always will be but each lesson learnt is a step in the right direction for creating a good story. And now, I’m rewriting from the beginning with character traits in mind, and hopefully it will be a stronger and more enjoyable read when complete.

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9 Responses

  1. Writing it always a learning curve and anyone who says different is trying to peddle something to you. It’s great that you’ve found an area that you want to improve on and have sought ways to help make them more realistic to the readers mind. Thats what creates hooks, that what helps readers identify with them and above all else thats what makes them so damn memorable.

    A great post and keep on trucking.

  2. I often end up with snippets of conversations and long ‘diary entries’ which are ‘written by the characters’ to help me understand them.

    But I admit to having made this mistake before.

  3. The fun of learning is in the doing. There is a reason why even famous writers often have three or four drafts done before submitting the official ‘first draft’. Write the story as you want to tell it, then go back and fill in the gaps. It’s a process that makes me wish I had a personal assistant. lol!

  4. haha! CW…wish I had a personal assistant too…but one that does all the laundry and dishes, and such…LOL 🙂

  5. Hey, it sounds like you know your characters if they’re fighting you! 😀 Maybe it was just that you had to get it all down on paper?

  6. Haha Jess! Yes, I needed to get it down on paper instead of the internal battle in my head. LOL 🙂

  7. Great post, Pat. E-mail the book you’ve been reading if it’s one you’d recommend. Character develpment is something that I need to work on as well. If I love a character, I will follow them anywhere. That’s the kind of characters I love to read, and I would love to write.

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