On The Chain Gang – Characters

My DEBUT LINK in the Blog Chain

THE BLOG CHAIN is comprised of a group of fiction writers from Query Tracker and Rally Storm. We thought it would be fun and insightful to acquire differing ideas and opinions on a particular writing topic.

So, we work through the chain posting one-by-one with the same general focus, and then, we repeat the process with a new topic for discussion. Check out the previous post at Kristal’s blog and the next post will be published at Elana’s blog within the next couple of days.  If you would like to read this topic from the beginning, please see Leah’s blog.

This Round’s Topic is:

“How Real Do Your Characters Become?

Are your characters real people to you?   How much do you really know about them?”


Pronunciation: \ˈker-ik-tər, ˈka-rik-\

A person marked by notable or conspicuous traits; one of the persons of a drama or novel; the personality or part which an actor recreates; characterization especially in drama or fiction; person, individual; a short literary sketch of the qualities of a social type.

I LOVE CHARACTERS! All the intricate details and quirks that make a character come to life.

Characters instantaneously bombarded me vying for a spot in the forefront of my brain, when the inspiration to start writing a novel hit. These fictional people were already alive and they all talked at once, telling me their names, their age, what they did. They showed me the worlds in which they live. I listened to their joys and fears. Certain characters stood out, telling me their importance in the story as a main or minor character. Some even proposed further books in which they would play a more significant role. Vivid images flashed as the barrage continued. It was chaotic, and I was in a frantic scurry trying to write all these facts down on the minuscule scraps of paper I had available to me (using a golf pencil, of course).

Some of the characters came fully formed, others were shyer, and some did not get along with each other. But as in real-life, there is always more to explore about the people you meet, even those you know well. As I wrote THE GATEKEEPERS’ CHARGE and TIME’S UP FOR FATHER TIME, I discovered new things with every twist and turn – from things my characters are passionate about to the intimate details of their hurts. My favorite facet of a characters personality is their quirks. Silly quirks like the old man who always leaves behind his dentures, or the municipal clerk who needs to line her paper clips up at the edge of her desk. These little details give the characters human qualities the reader can identify with and make a character come to life.

A character is a living, breathing creation of fiction that is ever-growing and ever-changing. If your character does not grow and change, that character becomes boring.

A well-drawn character can elicit an enormous amount of emotional attachment from the writer and the readers. Their affect can be powerful and moving. You celebrate with them when something wonderful happens and you feel their pain when something isn’t right. And, as a writer, if you need to kill one of your darlings, it is heart wrenching. I have literally grieved for some of my characters – tear streaming, stuffy-nosed grieving. Other characters get under your skin. They’re rotten to the core, and they make you so angry.  They can inspire a virile hatred, but they are so much fun to write! 

Characters, just like their real-life counter-parts, also have minds of their own. At least mine do. I do not write with a pre-planned outline or fully developed character sketches. I have what my characters shared with me, as well as a general knowledge of where I want the story to go. I manipulate the events and characters to my advantage. But when my characters do things on their own, I am forced to find another way for them to receive the information or be in the appropriate spot to further the storyline. A couple in my cozy mystery was supposed to get to a particular place where they were going to receive some crucial clues for their investigation. Well, unexpected things happened and they ended up in a car accident. There went the information rendezvous. I was dumbstruck! I sat back shaking my head as I looked at the letters I had typed. My mouthed gaped, I’m sure of it.

My characters are real to me. I understand them as well as I do the other people in my life – which of course, leaves plenty of qualities, quirks, and deep dark secrets to explore. 

I’ve had a terrific time writing for the Blog Chain, despite my debut nerves.  Thanks for the invite!

** WHILE YOU’RE HERE** Check out more about me and join in the weekly Wicked Writerly Fun.  Be sure to leave a comment.

Stumble It!

~ by bloggingexperiments on September 6, 2008.

11 Responses to “On The Chain Gang – Characters”

  1. I also had characters get in a car accident that was totally unplanned in my first novel – and my reaction was the same as yours – complete and utter surprise! Don’t you love when that happens?

    Also, please, what nerves?!? This was a great first post!

  2. Ah, thanks. *blush*

    And the utter surprise is absolutely my favorite part of writing!


  3. Abi,

    Great job on your first post! I’m so glad to find another writer who just sits down to write without outlining and planning. Sometimes I think I’m the only one who does that. I’m pretty sure writing would be easier if I knew what was going to happen, but I just don’t. Great job on listening to your characters!
    🙂 Elana

  4. When you sit down and start writing without every detailed planned, you get to experience the thrill of the story just like your readers will. It’s great!


  5. Yay! Great first post, Abi!

  6. I LOVE that you started this post with the definition of character.

    Great first post!

  7. **Moved to correct post by Admin.**

    Great post! I agree with you on enjoying a character’s little quirks. They do make characters feel more real.

    Sandra Almazan said this on September 6, 2008 at 11:38 am (edit)

  8. Excellent debut 🙂 You know, when I sit down to write, I usually at least have a vague idea of where I want or need to go, but how I get there is often completely up in the air – and it is fun to see how it works out 🙂 Welcome to the chain!

  9. ** Moved to correct post by Admin.**

    Hey, Abi! Now I get the blogchain thing. If the blog I belonged to had any activity I’d have us join.

    It’s fun to see links to all my pals!

    lisajustwrite said this on September 7, 2008 at 8:27 pm (edit)

  10. Brava! Now, what was all the fuss about? Fun, huh? Glad you joined the chain.

  11. LOL to Lisa — that’s why we all joined the blog chain — to make ourselves blog!

    Great debut! And I enjoyed the part about how you were dumbstruck by the twist your story took — I can relate, and I love it when that happens. It makes the story more “real” for me!

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