Sodaro's Stories

April 4, 2015

Characterization — Make them Real (A-Z blog)

One of the best compliments I have heard about my characters recently was that they seem so real, my reader wished she could invite them out to lunch. I just smiled and said “thank you. They would love to go to lunch with you.”

The best thing about publishing my novels (Whatever you Make of It, Arianna’s Honor,  and  Arianna’s Destiny…soon to be joined by Broken Trust at the end of this month) is that characters that have been real in my head for years are now allowed to be real for other people as well. The best thing to hear is that I have been successful at taking them out of my head and putting them down on paper in ways that they come to life for my readers.

Authors have different ways of doing this and as many ways as there are to make characters jump off the page, there are preferences that readers have as well. Some authors like to do what I call, a “grocery list” where they list off the string of descriptors that would allow anyone to pick their characters out in a line up.

“Tom was 6’4″ with dark brown hair and a full beard. His blue eyes stood out against his tan skin. He work a red plaid shirt and blue jeans with his cowboy boots and his hat always covered enough of his face to keep people guessing at what he was thinking. He drove a 1985 Ford F150 truck specifics, specifics, specifics, and so on.”

And that works great for some people. To me it never feel seamless in my writing (it sometimes feels awkward in my reading). And I think the problem I stumble with is I am actually okay if you don’t picture my characters the exact same way that I do. I don’t actually know what you consider to be attractive or beautiful. I don’t know what works for you, and that’s okay. I like to give basics (hair color, eye color, height if it is important for the plot) but to me, it’s more about the personality. I want my characters to be real and just like the people in my real life, I can describe their personalities more than every other physical attribute of their person. (Ask me how tall my best friend is and I won’t have a clue).

I think I am doing something right if my characters are getting lunch invitations.

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