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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Living Breathing Realistic Characters

Had an interesting experience last night. My local writers group meets once a month, and last night we had our meeting. There were a couple things submitted, one of which was the next chapter in one of our writer's books. The ensuing discussion was very lively about the characters in this book, one in particular - obviously the readers had been grabbed.

That got me to thinking. You and I can read a thousand books on writing. But that doesn't mean we can write characters that are compelling. I personally have read more published books then I can count where the characters are just so so. Or maybe they're decent enough but then I forget all about them not long after finishing the book. And sometimes they're not interesting at all. Only a very small handful of books that I've read contain characters I still remember long after closing the book.

So I'm tossing this out for discussion. Whether as a reader or writer, when you think about the most compelling characters you've ever read, what is it that grabbed you about them? What made you care? What made them stand out to you?


Nikole Hahn said...

Julie Garwood's characters always stood out for me because she made them innocent and funny (very unrealistic characters though). Grace Livingstone Hill had very compelling characters.

King J's Queen said...

I agree about Julie Garwood's characters. I used to really enjoy her books.

One of the best developed characters for me is Patricia Cornwell's Kay Scarpetta. Granted, there have been umpteen novels written through which to know her.

The characters in Jeanette Oak's "Love Comes Softly" series became almost like real people. I felt like I was watching some of them grow up. Their individual personalities shone through the storytelling.

Just my 2-cents.