Wednesday, July 19, 2017

FICTION DEPENDS ON GREAT CHARACTERS

Here are four points to consider when creating fictional characters:
1. Spend less time describing characters’ appearances. Show their actions, especially if their actions put them in conflict with the norms of their worlds. another example of show not tell.

2. Use two or more real people as models for characters. Then your character will have a blend of interesting features, and you won’t be liable for defaming anyone.

3. If you usually write novels, experiment with short stories. When I started writing short stories eight years ago, I was forced to identify and demonstrate the key features of characters more quickly and succinctly than in a novel.
4. One trick for displaying unforgettable characters is to select the narrator of your tale carefully. Before I wrote short stories, I interviewed dozens of acquaintances about their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. In several cases, I listened to tales about the same person from siblings or spouses. I also knew several of the women described. I quickly recognized that reality depended on the eyes of the beholder. The point of view is important.

Then I wrote vignettes with surprising plot twists about mothers in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s (The Good Old Days?) and modern women (Other People’s Mothers). The women in each story made choices. The narrators of the stories often didn’t understand the basis of the decisions because of incomplete information or personal biases. Accordingly, they warped the portraits of the women, and I could develop the characters to be more memorable.
How do you develop characters in your fiction?

My collections of short stories are available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon.
Other People’s Mothers: https://www.amzn.com/dp/1544895011