Centering on Character

woman writing in notebook

On Tuesday, March 13, I submitted the synopsis and first three chapters of my novel, Passage of Promise, to a publisher for which I felt my genre and style of writing would be a good fit.  According to their website’s submission guidelines, I should hear something within one to two weeks.  So I am in the nervous and excited waiting mode.  I also realize rejection is a normal and somewhat expected outcome in the process of submitting your manuscript to publishers/editors/agents, but I will deal with that at that time.

Meanwhile, I’ve delved back into my work in progress the past three days, and it feels good to be back in the lives of my characters, watching what they do, how they handle situations, and learning how to make them more developed.

Speaking of characters, what makes them interesting?  Are there several components that connect you to the characters?  Perhaps you relate to one of them, and the challenges they have mirror your own.  Is it that they are well-crafted, three-dimensional, and real to you?  Maybe you like one of the characters because they’re broken, clumsy, and endearing that way?

Well, for me, those elements are part of what I like about characters in the books I read.  I especially like characters with quirky personalities and unusual habits.  This particular trait is what I’d like to incorporate into my characters in my stories.

Do you need a lot of physical details describing how the characters look, or are a few basic features with maybe one unusual one sufficient?  It’s the latter for me.  I suppose the detailed descriptions depend upon the genre in which you read.

Characters drive the plot/storyline, and because of this, they are very important.  Through the fiction and creative writing workshops of my university courses, I’ve learned this vital fact, and carving out a well-defined and well-developed character takes practice.  For some authors, it’s not too difficult, but for others, it is quite a challenge.  I’m somewhere between not too difficult and a little bit of a challenge.  When I first started writing in my teen years, my characters were pretty much one or two-dimensional and lacked depth.  I’d like to think I’ve gotten a bit better since picking up writing again in 2014.

Therefore, in creating characters, you might want to:

  1. Have them possess quirky personalities with perhaps some type of pesky habit.
  2. Give ’em flaws.  Nobody can relate to someone who’s perfect inside and out.
  3. Produce words that come from their mouths that are natural, realistic, and perhaps echo a dialect in the area in which they live.
  4. Make sure each character is distinct to a certain degree.  If you can get to the epic point of writing dialogue with no tags and the reader knows the people speaking because of the way they talk, their language, and voice, you’re a star!
  5. Describe their looks with enough detail to give the reader at least a general idea of the appearance of the character, unless you’re writing in a genre like Romance where it seems that the more detail there is, the better.

These recommendations came from my memory through studying material and books I’ve read for my classes.  I hope they are helpful to my fellow writers as they have been for me.  It takes some practice, some work to create believable and relatable characters, but we can do it! Happy writing!




9 thoughts on “Centering on Character

  1. Rhia G. Adley

    Great post! As a character-first writer, I always enjoy reading about character development. It’s important to spend time on the characteristics of a character, although many get caught up in the physical attributes. When their personality is prominent, it helps readers focus on that and “hear” their voice. Plus, it allows for broader interpretation of the physical attributes. This post is inspiring, and I wish the best of luck for your submission!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good luck on your submission! Such an exciting part of the process. Yes, character development is important to me, and it’s true that how much detail to provide depends on genre. I prefer learning about a character through his/her behavior and actions. Great post!


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