Friday, March 29, 2013

[Link] What Do I Think Goes Into Making Characters Interesting?

by Derrick Ferguson

Since I started this boulder rolling downhill with talking about how I create my characters I figured I’d keep right on going a talk for a bit about what I think goes into making characters interesting and how I do it. As always, feel free to steal any of this you think will help and anything you think is bullshit, keep it to yourself. Okay? Okay. Have a seat and we’ll jaw jack for a bit.

For me, a story begins and ends with character. If the characters aren't interesting and if what they're doing doesn't interest me I don't care how mind-blowing the ideas behind the story is. There are writers who can pull off an idea driven story and I've read many of those over the years but as a rule, those types of stories don't put the sugar in my coffee. I'm more drawn to character driven stories.

And the characters don't have to be likable  In fact, I'm more intrigued when a writer can present me with an unlikable character and during the course of the story I grow to sympathize with him or her. My DIAMONDBACK novel; “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” was partially an exercise to see if I could write a novel length story where 99% percent of the characters were backstabbing, unrepentant cold-blooded bastards (especially the lead character) and still make them compelling characters you wanted to know more about and find out what happens to them.

That's why most of the time when you start to read a story of mine, I'll open with the character doing whatever it is he does best. Dillon is a globetrotting adventurer so I'll usually start a story with him in the middle of an adventure. If I write a story where a murderer is the lead character, I'll start with him murdering somebody. For me, nothing gets you into a character faster than showing him or her doing whatever it is they do. And I can do that because before I sit down to write I know the lead character so well that a lot of the indecision about what they would do in a given situation is gone. And I sincerely believe you have to know your characters well before you sit down to write and you have to care about them one way or another because as a writer you're the first audience for your story and if it's not interesting and exciting to you then why should it excite or interest a reader?

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