Thursday, 7 August 2008
Novel writing Tip 4 Characters
Memorable characters are as important as plot.
I can only emphasise how important it is to learn from our favourite authors. List the characters of your favourite novel. Then analyse each of them by their strengths, weaknesses any quirks in their personalities and most of all their motivation. Note how one is the foil for another. How the good are portrayed differently from the bad without resorting to stereotypes. How did the characters interact with each other? What caused the rivalry, friendship, romance, conflict or dissension?
Take particular note how a character is introduced both by description and something of their personality. Never give a reader a wodge of information all in one go. The picture of them should be built up slowly so that the reader remembers what they look like and the driving force behind their personality.
Key words reveal a great deal in description. eg. A stubborn tilt to an otherwise weak chin. A glitter of contempt in eyes which have never shown love. Pompous set of prim lips. The fastidious brushing down of clothing over a pot belly.
Mannerisms also reveal a great deal about a character. And most of all remember that your characters will grow and change through the experiences prsented in your novel.
You do not have to make a character lovable for them to be memorable they have to be believable.The self-centred Scarlet O'Hara was most memorable for her fighting spirit. No one is perfect and to err is to be human. It is how the characters deal with adversity and conflict that engage your reader's attention.
Give each character key tags encompassing their personality.
These were the key tags I had for some of the main characters in the Loveday series.
ADAM LOVEDAY was brave, loyal, passionate about shipbuilding but pride could be his downfall.
ST JOHN LOVEDAY heir and a wastrel, self-centred and dissolute but valued the good opinion of others.
JAPHET LOVEDAY lovable rogue, chancer, rakehell but fiercely loyal to his family despite his wild blood.
MERIEL scheming fortune-huntress who tricked St John into marriage motivated by greed and to better her station in life.
SENARA wise-woman, half-gypsy determined never to make Adam ashamed of her background.
GWENDOLYN love for Japhet transforms the timid woman and she will travel half way round the world to stand by her man and prove his innocence.