Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Thursday, July 28, 2011


Characters, oh characters! I've been reading a lot of character development lately.  I have some wonderful books about the subject which I will review for you in later blog posts, but today I want to share what Cheryl Klein had to say about characters.

Everyone wants an original character, a MC that stands out from all the others. How can you achieve that when even Nietzsche said, "There's nothing new under the sun"? How do avoid cliche characters?

Ms. Klein gave some tips during her webinar that were very helpful.  I hope you don't mind a list.

1. Make the characters new: Turn the cliche upside down like Suzanne Collins did with Katniss Everdeen.  She made her a hunter (not your typical girl attribute).

2. Give the character an unusual desire.
3. Make the MC the viewpoint character.
4. Give the character a cause readers can root for because it's interesting, morally right, or has high stakes.
5. Give the character some expertise.
6. Makes the character liked by other people or make the character disliked by people the reader also dislikes. For example, most readers dislike the Dursleys (Harry Potter), so the fact that the Dursleys hate Harry makes him more lovable to readers.
7. Have the character take action or show energy.
8. Put the character in pain or jeopardy (anticipated pain)
9. Don't be your character's mother! Let them makes choices you might not make or approve of.
10. Make your MC human. That means flawed, unpredictable, weird, full of secrets. The more complicated you make the character, the more complicated the plot can be.

REVISION TIPS for Characters:

First Impressions: Look at the first ten pages of your WIP.  Which characters appear?  Write out the first ten things the character(s) says or does.  Who is the character based on just that information.  Remember you're painting a picture of that character's personality and value to the story.

Up Next: Character-based View of Plot

1 comment:

  1. Great advice for characters. It's so fun to think of interesting quirks to give them.