Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Tuesday's Inspiration - Elizabeth Peters - Characters
Digging further into the essay by Elizabeth Peters and this time it's characters. Plausibility of the characters in a story to be exact. Having read many stories with characters that don't quite jibe makes me wonder how to make my characters seem real to the reader.
There is the "too stupid to live heroine" and I've also read a story or two where the hero is "too stupid to live." Developing characters who seem to fit the story is a task worth doing. Just how does this work because even with a dynamite plot, if the characters fall short the story will also fail.
Reasons for a character's actions and reactions is the important bit here. If the heroine is going to enter that spooky house she'd better have a great reason to do this. If the hero is going to fight someone he'd better have a terrific reason. This can be about motivation, of course but there are other reasons characters act the way they do. Without these reasons being seen by the reader, the character falls short.
Another thing about characters is they need to match. Just what does this mean. A strong villain meets a weak hero or heroine and the reader will put the book aside. A strong hero versus a weak heroine and who really cares if she wins the man. I used to read romances where I thought no matter what the epilogue showed me a year or so later, "This marriage will never work." I've read mysteries where I knew who the bad guy was just pages into the book. This wasn't where the writer let you know up front but when they wanted you to suspect anyone but the real guy.
The books that stick to me are the ones where I can remember the characters years after having read the story and I pick it up to read again. So remember to give your character reasons for those little actions and reactions. Match your characters in desire and motivation. Make sure they aren't "too stupid to live."