A recent incident at my writers’ group sparked the idea for my post today. A writer submitted a piece where he offered no description of characters that exposed their race. However, the things he chose to write about the characters did make people wonder what race some of the characters were. The main character was a white man married to a black woman, and there were subtle hints — particularly around hair care — of the race of the wife, but nothing explicit. He’d done this on purpose, with the idea that he wanted the reader to imagine the characters to be however they wanted them to be. One of the ladies there, Pam, asked, “Why? Why would you want to be less specific about them? I’ve never heard a good reason for doing this?” Continue reading “Diversity Is About Inclusion, Not Exclusion”
Tag: building characters
What Readers Want – What If I Don’t Like Your Characters?
As an author, do you ever struggle with a decision about your book and wonder, “What would a reader say?” You probably aren’t the first author to wonder about that same thing. Indies Unlimited has two reviewers on our staff, the fabulous Cathy Speight and venerable Mr. BigAl, who are here representing readers. In this series, we’ll pose your questions to them for their take and encourage other readers to weigh in with their thoughts.
First the question from the author: Continue reading “What Readers Want – What If I Don’t Like Your Characters?”
Playing With Character Interviews
You are unlikely to recall my wail of despair a few months ago regarding making the switch from non-fiction to fiction. Just in case you have been fretting on my behalf however, it’s sort of going ok, thanks. And I’ve had an idea. I don’t actually know yet whether I’m a plotter or a pantser so I have been trying to work with a few ‘rules’, to see where they lead me. If they go nowhere, I will stop trying to plot and begin to just pants. Which is kinda rude if you’re a Brit. Where was I? Oh yes…
I was reading RJ’s brilliant post about story bibles last month and followed her trail back to Arline Chase’s post about character creation. I dutifully set about fleshing out my people in the manner described. I set up a spreadsheet, honestly I did. It had all the stuff on it that you need to know about your people, their motivation, their challenges, their appearance, childhood, food choices, the lot. And I sat and looked at it for ages. I put two characters’ names into the right spots and stared at the empty boxes. It felt like those awful ‘comprehension’ exercises that people in their late 50s who were educated in the UK may recall. You read a passage from a book, which you might have quite enjoyed, but then you had to spoil all that by proving to someone else that you understood what it meant. Continue reading “Playing With Character Interviews”
Give Me A Dramatic Truth or Give Me Death! by Bill Johnson
To satisfy an audience a story must ring true. One way to create a story that rings true is for the storyteller to understand how to create characters and situations that embody what I call dramatic truths.
Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz wants to find her way home, the Tin Man a heart, the Scarecrow, a brain, the Cowardly Lion, courage.
Rocky wants to be somebody.
The Velveteen Rabbit wants to be real.
Harry Potter wants to fit in.
Each character embodies a truth that defines them. These truths are dramatic because they are in need of resolution. Will Dorothy find her way home, Rocky become somebody, Harry fit in, the Velveteen rabbit become real? Continue reading “Give Me A Dramatic Truth or Give Me Death! by Bill Johnson”