Monday, November 10, 2008

Characters Are People, Too

"Characters are what drive a story." – Brandi Reissenweber in Gotham Writers' Workshop Writing Fiction.
There are some who say it’s plot that keeps the reader interested. I read certain authors -- Robert B. Parker, for one -- because of his characters. The plot is what keeps me going in thrillers. Still, if the characters are boring, or people I don’t care about or understand, I may struggle to get to the end, or even give up and move on to another book.

In my early stories, I spent more time thinking about plot, flow and tone than characters. At some point, it dawned on me that I had a better understanding of the characters in my published stories than the unpublished ones. I hadn’t provided enough information for the editor to comprehend what motivated the characters in the latter. In some cases, I reworked stories by beefing up my characterizations and succeeded in getting them published. I know now that if I don’t understand what motivates a character, or if I don’t care what happens to the person, my readers won’t either. That’s assuming I have any readers.

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