A bridge over a beautiful waterfall

A bridge over a beautiful waterfall
Nature brings magic

Friday, March 21, 2014

My love of characters

So we've had a couple posts talking to my characters. Believe it or not, that's not too far off from what I do with them in the beginning. I sit down with them, talk to them, get to know their world, and a bit of their story. From there, I get started. I let them tell me their story and I write it down. Then I irritate them by editing but it has to be done.

Why are characters so important in stories? Well for one, you can't have a story without a character. Even if you're talking about finding a stone and how beautiful that stone was, there are still characters. I don't know of any story in existence that doesn't have a character.

I know there are plot driven stories, where the plot takes precedence over the characters, and they're just there as plot devices to move the story forward. If you like this kind of thing, if you write it, that's great. More power to you.

I prefer character driven. In these, you get to know who you're dealing with on a more intimate level. You know their habits, their wishes, their dreams, and their flaws. You know how they think and how they feel. I love losing myself in the lives of others and only coming up for air when absolutely necessary.

This is why I write what could be called “escapist fiction”. It's seen as a way to disconnect from the real world. Some researchers say this is a bad thing, that it stunts a person's ability to learn to deal with life. I think these people are full of shit. I think a good story allows you to rest, recuperate from the stresses of life, and when you're done you step back into the morass of daily living in a better place than when you left it.

I try to make my characters very real, with flaws like the rest of us. They have their redeeming qualities as well. Like in the interview with Fury, I mention her temper and hint at her desire to throw herself into a fight. There's a softer side to her that you get to see in her story. A love of those she calls family and a desire to protect.

Ceinwen on the other hand is different. I gave her another view on life, a different perspective that I've come to see in other people. I put some of my own feelings and thoughts into her, making her a little more like me. She gets her HEA, though I don't necessarily believe in HEAs. It's more a HFN because you never know what life is going to be like from one day to the next.

There are so many characters running around in my head, screaming at me to tell their stories. And I will. I will turn them loose to dictate how their lives, their adventures are going to be told. Then I'll go through and ruthlessly edit the hell out of them to make them fit within the confines of an actual novel. Then I'll do it again, adding things they forgot to tell me and removing things I don't like.

Characters have lives of their own. It's up to us as authors to recognize that and let them live and breathe through our efforts. Remember that a character is a little piece of us that we've chosen to share with the world.


  1. What's an HEA and HFN?
    And who the hell is the 'they' saying that escapist fiction is bad? Even in my psych classes, it was recognized that reading, writing and especially role playing (D&D type) were healthy and helpful. I suppose if you never come back out of the imaginary, then that could be bad. Could be an interesting story right there, actually.

    1. HEA means happily ever after. HFN means happily for now. I've read what have been termed "Official Reports" and several blog posts on the topic. So many people look down on escapist fiction as a way that people live in an alternate reality and they don't come back so they do insane things. I won't say there aren't some insane people out there but they shouldn't judge all of us by the actions of a few.

    2. Oh, but those few make for exciting news stories, so of COURSE they'll be the ones that get concentrated on!