What I learned about character.

The book kind, not the intrinsic kind.

I’ll be honest, I’ve had problems with developing characters. Sadly, it’s the main character who always seems to be just a bit elusive. I know exactly the person I’m trying to portray, and yet that idea never quite makes it to the page. My supporting characters, however, are rockin’.

But sometimes when I focus on the problem, I just make it bigger. I honestly don’t even want to dig down to the root to solve it. So instead of facing it, I’m going to avoid it completely and focus on how other people do it right. And then if I come across something good, I’ll apply it. Foolproof, I know.

Well in this instance it seemed to work. I’m rereading the first few books (okay I skipped the first two, so the middle few books) of a series by James Owens called The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica. They’re incredible books, and I highly recommend them to anyone who has a taste for classic literature, both the writers and their writings. And as I was reading, I stunned myself with this tiny, but overwhelming realization.

I can’t recall what Owens had the characters doing, and I’m not going to try to find the page, but I found myself imagining a characters reaction to a statement, and the reaction was not written. Meaning I was so involved at this point with the characters, and felt that I knew them so well, that even without Owens saying how Jack (the character) looked in response to the situation, I could picture it perfectly. 

And the funny thing is, it was so easy.

It was pure reaction. I read it. I thought it. I stopped, amazed. And then I wrote a note to myself to blog about it.

It seems like such a minuscule thing, but in reality, when writers try to develop character, that’s exactly what we want to happen. I want my readers to feel so invested in my characters that I don’t even have to tell them how the character feels. I want the audience to just know. Yes, I realize that’s a very difficult thing to do, but difficult is not impossible.

And now that I’ve had a taste that it can be done, I’m going to keep craving it until I achieve it.


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