Top 5 Misconceptions about Creating Fictional Characters by Guest Blogger Stacy Deanne
Characters can make or break a novel. It doesn’t matter if the novel is character-driven or plot-driven if you don’t have characters that the audience feel emotionally invested in then your book will be a disappointing reading experience.
Let me clarify because whenever people start talking about creating characters, folks get confused. Some writers think that characters have to be likeable for an audience to care. This is false. There have been many characters people hated in some of the most successful books ever. Audiences don’t have to like your characters but they should be able to connect with them. There’s a difference.
Below are in my opinion five of the biggest misconceptions new writers especially have about creating characters and my opinions of them.
Misconception 1: Characters Must Be Larger Than Life
Sigh. How many times have you heard some so-called writing expert say that your characters must move the world by their very being? Please. The truth is that most readers prefer down-to-earth normal characters they can relate to. Unless you’re writing a comic book, most readers do not respond well to some superhuman-type character with stale, rigid emotions. The most effective characters are those who mirror real-life people going through incredible situations. We like to see normal people like ourselves doing extraordinary things. These characters evoke emotions in readers. It’s hard to relate or care about a character that seems to conquer every issue easily. Characters shouldn’t ever be perfect or unbelievable.
Misconception 2: Characters Should Be Memorable
Who made this up? No, what your characters do should be memorable. Let’s be honest, only a tiny percentage of characters are remembered years after you’ve read the book. As long as the characters are entertaining enough to keep the pages turning, that’s the most important thing. Who cares if someone remembers your characters five or ten years from now? All you should care about is making the readers’ experience pleasurable. You can’t predict how a character will touch a reader no matter how they’re created. I’d rather someone just remember they read my book than any individual character. Just create characters that keep people interested throughout the book and don’t worry about much else.
Misconception 3: You Should Describe a Character’s Appearance
This depends on the author. Some authors are very descriptive with their characters. They see them in their heads and they want the audience to see them the same way. Other authors never describe their characters physically. You don’t know their races, ages, how they look, anything. There is no right or wrong it’s just a matter of writing style. Sometimes it is important to describe some things about a character but by all means you don’t have to waste ten pages describing Susie from top to bottom. If you are gonna describe your characters make sure you describe what’s important and leave the rest to the audience’s imagination.
Misconception 4: You Should Base Characters on People You Know
Gosh I hope not. I don’t base any of my characters on people I know and wouldn’t want to. I don’t know anyone interesting enough to be in my books. Unless you know a serial killer, foreign spy or CIA agent, nine times out of ten who you know probably won’t make an interesting character. Now you can put traits of people you know into your characters but most likely people you know in real life wouldn’t be very interesting in a story. Focus on creating dynamic characters from your heart. Creating a person is the best part of fiction to me.
Misconception 5: You Have to Like Your Characters
No you don’t. I’ve written plenty of characters I didn’t like. That’s what made me care more about them. I loved that I disliked them and the kind of people they were. It meant I did a darn good job creating a well-rounded character. Think of how you interact with people in real life. Aren’t there people you don’t like for whatever reason? Isn’t there someone who gets on your nerves or pushes your buttons and you might not even know why? You wouldn’t expect to like everyone in real life would you? Of course not so don’t feel you have to like your characters to create interesting ones. How you feel about your own characters has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. Make those characters jump off the page and into the hearts of readers and you’ve done your job.
Stacy-Deanne (Dee-Anne) is an award-winning novelist of crime fiction, mysteries and interracial romance. She is known as, “Interracial Romance’s First Lady of Crime and Mystery”. She is a 2011 AALAS Mystery Nominee.
Check out her recent release: “Giving up the Ghost” the first installment in her interracial romantic suspense series. Book 2, The Season of Sin will be released January 2012. Her books are available in ebook and paperback. Giving up the Ghost is available in hardcover as well from Black Expressions.
Giving up the Ghost @ Amazon: http://tiny.cc/ivgxn
Read more about Stacy and her releases here: http://www.stacy-deanne.net
COMING DECEMBER 27, 2011 MORE DRAMA IN BETWEEN THE SHEETS
FIND OUT DELILAH’S FATE IN RUTHLESS!
- Kick A– Author Promotion Ain’t As Hard As You Think! by Guest Blogger Stacy Deanne
- Weekend Read Suggestion – Giving Up The Ghost by Stacy Deanne
- Interview with Stacy Deanne
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