I’ve created many characters over time, some more endearing than others, but hopefully most of them were at least memorable. Once a character is created it lives on in eternity and it can become a touchstone for generations. What’s really exciting is when a character has been so skillfully crafted that it begins to take on a life of it’s own and guides the writing!
What is it that makes a good character?
I’ve heard it said that perfection is boring. Imperfection is what makes characters believable and relatable for readers. As a writer and someone with perfectionist tendencies, when I’m attempting to create a believable character, I’m actually trying to perfect imperfection. It’s cathartic in ways!
Back-story is key whether it’s stated or implied in a story. I’ve met writers who invest the time in writing elaborate back-stories for each of their characters in order to intimately know them. Often times none or mere glimpses of the back-story appears in the final manuscript, but it’s given the character depth. The expression of a range of authentic emotions is another technique that adds depth to a character. Again, this makes characters more relatable to readers.
The moments that we get to hear a character’s voice in a story can make a huge impression. Do their speech patterns and word choices mesh with the internal dialogue we’ve shared with readers? Characters can say the unexpected in a story as long as it’s still makes sense with their personality. The amount of dialogue is the writer’s judgment call, but a character can be brought to life with very little or even no words spoken.
Here are some of my favorite books because of their brilliantly crafted characters. I know that I’ve connected with a character when I feel like it’s had a life and story before, during, and after I’ve read the book.
Carol Higgins-Lawrence wrote her first story at the age of five. Her father paid her a quarter for it and she's been writing ever since. She's taken a variety of courses in writing for children. Multicultural perspectives are of particular interest to her. Carol is of Jamaican descent and was born and raised in Canada. She has a BA in Communications and Sociology and she has completed coursework towards a MA in TESOL. She has worked as a literacy educator for the past 15 years. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two young children. You can visit her website at carolhl.weebly.com
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