By David Sharp
…Because that would be ridiculous. This is not a medical blog. It’s about writing. So, of all the subjects you may have been anticipating, you can cross cardiology right off the list. I didn’t want you to be misled. Also, I’m supposed to start the title of this post with the letter C, somehow. Done and done.
|This is Dr. Russell. He is a cardiologist.|
That's an important line of work.
Sadly, this post has nothing to do with him.
Sorry, Dr. Russell. Maybe next time.
Who doesn’t like a dynamic character? I rarely remember anything about a great book better than its characters. Somehow they transform from words in Times New Roman to people I can see in my mind, and often care about more than I care about getting to bed on time. More than I care about tidying the house. Dare I say, more than getting my blog post written? When my favorite characters are in trouble, I can’t just leave them hanging. Things aren’t going to get better if I don’t read on. And so laundry and dishes are going to have to wait!
As a writer, I want to have characters that have that effect on others. I want people to care about my characters like they were real people. But it doesn’t just happen. There are tons of books out there with characters that never evolve past the literary version of a stick man for me. What is it about the great ones that makes them so real? There are books upon books on the subject of characterization, and I’ve read so… many… of… them.
There’s a lot of advice out there to sift through. When it works, it feels just like meeting a real person. When it doesn’t work, it feels a lot like a migraine. So, here are the results of some of my own experiments:
|Now, just fill out this small stack of forms,|
please, and your character will be
with you shortly.
|On a scale of one to ten, how likely are|
you to discover that your uncle has
murdered your father, the king, and
then immediately married your mother?
Both methods above become cumbersome for me. I feel like I’m trying to remember too many rules about how my character should and shouldn’t act. But if I know this guy, shouldn’t some of that be more second nature?
|This is Dr. Russell. He is a character from|
a supernatural thriller about a
cardiologist who saves the woman he
loves by obtaining a heart from the black
market and is later haunted by
its previous owner.
What about you? Have any strategies worked or not worked to bring your characters to life? Feel free to share in the comments.