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:~: Friday, June 01, 2007 :~:

It's All About The Characters

When people ask me what makes a great story, I always answer "characters and emotion." Sharon Long had a neat post over at Writeminded this week about how a reader's experiences impact their impression of a character's believability.

I tend to build my characters by finding out everything I can about them. A lot of what I know never ends up in the book directly, but for me to write a believable person, I have to know him or her as intimately as possible.

This summer, I'm rewriting my December 2007 release Hold On To Me. I would say I'm revising, but basically, I'm rewriting -- the couple's backstory changed and thus their characters changed. I'm really liking how this impacts and strengthens the conflict between them from page one.

And it's given my hero an edge that I love.

In the original version, he is absolutely besotted with the heroine. It was a definite guy-in-pursuit story, which was okay. He was a sweetheart of a guy (although he could be tough when he had to be).

But my new Tick?

Oh, my. When the heroine arrives, he's not happy to see her. She's hurt him, and he's angry, a little bitter. There's a hard edge to him when he's around her. And when he discovers the not-so-little secret she's been keeping from him . . . well, his reaction is less than that of a sweetheart of a guy who's besotted. Still in character, still believable . . . but more compelling. (I hope.)

I'm actually have fun with these revisions, which has to be a foreign concept. It sure has been to me in the past. And it's all about the characters.

What about you? When you write or revise, what is it all about?



Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Oooh. I think the hero in my wip would get along with the new Tick vedy, vedy well. They'd have lots to talk about. :)

I agree. Characters make or break a book. I just finished a NYT bestseller's recent release. Writing was great, overall plot was pretty good, characters killed it for me. Heroine came off whiney and too much on the woe-is-me side for me, and the hero wasn't ever developed enough to give me a true sense of who he was.

On the flip side, I'm reading Cindy Gerard's latest book right now (the last in her Bodyguard series), and I am LOVING it. Gerard does an awesome job with character development.

Great post, Lin!

8:51 AM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

We should get them together. They could hang out in the basement. ;-)

One of the things I loved about the Amie Stuart I reviewed yesterday was her characters -- they absolutely made that plot.

The great thing about these rewrites is that, along with giving Tick an edge, it makes Cait (my heroine) stronger, more sympathetic, and her actions more believable.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Okay, girls. I think we need to hang out in the basement a while. Maybe even on a regular basis. Shall we schedule?

Only problem...I don't know who I'd bring -- I don't know if I've got a character who could stand up to your edgy heros.

In my revisions, I don't have one element that stands out as "being all about". I touch on everything, go deeper with everything including details like setting and senses. Inevitably, my plot shifts -- sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. But my characters always, always get deeper.

So...when shall we head to the basement?

12:31 PM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

This weekend, J? Or next week.

We could take a vacation, let our heroes post for us. :-)

1:43 PM  
Blogger Elisa said...

When I write the first draft, it's about the basic plot, actions, and dialog. Once I start revising, it's about everything else, getting deeper into the characters' heads, drawing out their emotions and really trying to bring the story to life.

I just finished revising one of my July releases. My editor brought to my attention that my heroine was, well, a witch. LOL The challenge was making her less abrasive, but still able to hold her own against an alpha vampire with chauvinistic tendencies.

3:05 PM  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...


An alpha vampire. Hmmm, now that sounds interesting. :-)

Amazing what editors point out that we don't see when we're writing. Working with Anne the Editor Goddess is definitely making me a better writer -- and it's making HOTM a better book.

4:18 PM  

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