Saturday, September 18, 2010

Project to Published: Characters, you gotta love em!

Project to Published
Every Sunday

Characters, you gotta love em!

Characters are like human beings. When you are writing characters, you want to be able to love them as you love a human being. You love them for everything they are and could be – their traits, character flaws and most importantly their potential. Although some may disagree with me over these characteristics and say that these are not good examples of people, we live in an imperfect world and our imperfections are what make us unique as individuals.

Think about when you lose a loved one. You begin to think about the things that were most important to you about the individual, even if those things were seemed unimportant before losing him or her. Ironically, what you consider that you miss the most may not be what you expected. You do not necessarily think ‘Well, they were the female protagonist and really led the story’, you think about details. You remember the way the person did things, the way that those things felt.

It should be the same for your character. When someone finishes reading your book, you want him or her to take a step back and really miss the main character(s). You want this because not only it will make him or her want to read a sequel or future book but also because it makes it a memorable book and sometimes, a great book.

My grandfather who I loved deeply passed away when I was younger and when I think of him I don’t think ‘Male lead, veteran, age, weight, height’. He is my grandfather, not a two dimensional character described in words alone. I think about him watching the Chargers games because he said it was always better to root for the losing team because when they win, it means so much more. I think about him waking up early in the morning and even though he was so very masculine, I’d walk into the kitchen and there he was in a light pink polo and an apron on.

When your readers look back on your characters you want them to think about details. You want them to remember a line your character said that really touched their hearts, something unique about your character or something that just makes them human.

So please don’t be afraid to let your characters have flaws, strange interests and quirks – we all have them! I love to write, but it is what I write and in the way I write it that makes who I am and my characters unique. I write my novels on a pink mini laptop at my writer’s desk that was a gift to me and that I have set up in a way that shows my personality and who I am. Every little detail and quirk is relevant and it makes me who I am to those who know me.

Here is what I ask you:

1. What makes you unforgettable?
2. Now, what could make your character unforgettable?

Emma Michaels


  1. Ah yes, quirks and little things about a character are what really makes them stand out. I was just reading a blog post today by Mary Campbell about it.

    I don't really know if you can pin point what makes a character unforgettable. It's the little things that sneak up on a reader, like you said.

  2. I love character development. I typically build complex, hard to initially like characters that allow you to peek inside to find how special they truly are. More and more I'm starting to get better at building villians with more complexity.

  3. This is a great way of looking at things.

  4. Nice post, Emma. Character development is really important, especially for those readers who are character driven. Characters HAVE to have flaws, or their credibility falls apart. As Samuel Johnson wrote, "Fiction loses its force when it departs from the resemblance of reality."

    In my opinion, my characters become unforgettable through show, but mostly dialogue. I've always been good at writing dialogue, staying true to how people talk. It isn't forced. It flows as if anyone would be having the conversation.

    What makes me unforgettable? Well, once I become someone I'll let you know. For right now, I'm just a woman taking chances, writing and hoping to become published.

    Thanks again for the post.

  5. This is a fantastic way of explaining character development! I think I do make sure my characters are unforgettable and do those quirky little things, but I never thought about it this deeply before. Thank you for this!! :)

  6. Yes... nice way to put character development so it's easily understood.

    Let's hope I don't have this problem, i'll find out soon enough when my reads report back to me.


  7. I put a great deal into my characters. After all, the story's more about them than anything else!

  8. I work on my characters' development all through the writing. And I check often to be sure they are staying "in character" and are believable.

    Have you been making changes to your blog? I don't remember it looking like this. Hmm.

    Any way, I have an award for you at my blog.


  9. Great post, I am thankful I don't write. I leave it to professionals such as yourself.

  10. Great way to describe character individuality. You're right that it's not about stats, it's about impression. The traits a character leaves behind.

    Let's see, as for my traits: better that other people tell you!

    Some of my main character's traits: no posters on her wall, because she doesn't like eyes watching her while she sleeps; cuts her own hair; has an addiction to second-hand items.