“character” in Write Away by Elizabeth George
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 15, 2007
· Analysis of character is the highest human entertainment · Human character is the greatest of puzzles · What we take away from a good novel is the memory of character · Characters effect events and events effect characters · Real people have flaws; no one wants to read about perfect characters · Issues of self-doubt · Characters who make mistakes, have lapses of judgment, experience weakness, are interesting · We want to cheer when the character (finally) comes into her own · Characters learn from unfolding events · A character is (best) revealed slowly by the writer · Characters are interesting in their conflict, misery, unhappiness, confusion; not their joy and security · begin with a name; names can suggest anything to the reader (personality traits, social and ethnic background, geography, attitude) · Names influence how a reader will feel about a character · Create an analysis of each character, facts, a full psychological profile · Do not bring a character to a book unless he or she is alive before the book begins · Create character in advance; use personality quirks and telling details; know your characters, who they are, how they’ll react · constantly ask questions about what each character would do in the situation in which he finds himself · become the character’s analyst · understand your character’s core need · What does the character do when under stress? (generally the flip of the core need) : delusions, compulsions, addictions, denial, illnesses, self-harming behavior, manias, phobias · what is the character’s attitude toward sex, what is his/her sexual history · What does the character want in the novel? · As you write, frequently refresh your memory about your characters · the behavior of a character is rooted in who that characters is and what has happened in the scene (and before) · we all suffer from guilt, fear, worry, doubt · a character’s inner conflict will show that he is real · conflict works best when it is rising conflict, builds over time, reveals more facets of character as incidents occur · at the climax, the character stands before the reader fully revealed · a reader can bond with a character if there is something in common · Every character has two landscapes: (1) external, (2) internal · External landscape: select details which will resonate with the reader · Internal landscape: emotions, wants, needs, reflections, speculations, obsessions · Allow characters to reflect – reveal what’s in their heads · characters in a novel are more interesting if they have lives outside the (action of) the novel, before the novel was written, and after. · We admire characters who face and prevail over situations we ourselves have experienced, who unflinchingly examine themselves, learn from their mistakes, meet challenges with courage
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