Tuesday, November 12, 2013

NW Bookfest '13, Workshop Review #3: Creating Memorable Characters

(Image:  Partial book cover to Flashman)
Denise Frisino knows how to captivate an audience.
She should--she's an actress, along with being the author of Whiskey Cove, a novel set largely during the Prohibition Era.
Denise deftly blended her acting and writing experience while discussing character development.
How do readers first see your main character?
Think about "entrances and exits."  That is, give your character a good entrance, something memorable.
Think about how your characters look--not just standing in place--but how they move.  Incorporate body language, especially what characters do with their hands.
Think visually.  Why do characters dress the way they do?  If you're writing a period piece, rent a costume or dress the part.  This will familiarize yourself with the clothing characters move around in.
And speaking of movement:  If your character doesn't move your story forward, you'll lose readers no matter how compelling the plot is.  Characters need to change over the course of the story, but many of their traits should remain consistent.
Along with moving the story forward a character interacts with other characters in the story.  What are the relationships the main character has with the others?  These are not always the same, or equal.
Character interaction is often illustrated by way of dialogue.  Give your dialogue motion and avoid the "he said/she said" as much as possible.  Pay attention to patterns of speech so everyone in the story doesn't sound the same.  
Unless of course, they are the same...
(Image:  Clone troopers)
Anyway, in addition to character development, Denise offered several tidbits of writing advice--
--Keep index cards on each character.
--Add details of your character's life throughout the story--don't do a data dump!
--Stay on track with your research.
--Don't edit as you go.  Get the story down and keep moving forward.
--Know your audience.
--Choose a perspective and make it very strong.
--Ensure the storyline isn't "flat" but contains ever-rising tension.
--Create additional problems for the characters to overcome along the way.
--Make endings believable.
And with that, I believe I'll start writing the next blog post--in a day or two.


DeanM said...

Nice illustrations, Ted. I bet you see yourself as that British Officers don't you :)! Best, Dean

Ted Henkle said...

LOL! While I'm still susceptable to heroic fantasies, I hope I'm not cut of the same cloth as Sir Harry Paget Flashman. :)
The books by George MacDonald Fraser are a hoot and some of the best (and funniest) historical fiction ever written. I can't recommend them enough. So when it came to adding an image to this "Memorable Character" post--Flashman lept into my mind.