“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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