Monday, May 7, 2012


I’ve neglected my blog lately, partly due to the passing of my mother-in-law, but partly out of laziness. I think I can safely blame spring fever, also. Spring came so early this year, and it has been so warm and beautiful that I can’t stay out of the garden long enough to accomplish anything worthwhile.

Today I want to talk about characters again. Our characters need lots of attention. We would have no story without them. They need to be well-developed, because only a realistic character can get by with unbelievable actions and still be interesting to your reader. When we create characters that allow the reader to suspend disbelief, we can accomplish great things.

Have you ever written a story that you know is amazing, but can’t get an agent to commit to? You know your characters are perfect. Your plot is well-written, and your premise is new and fresh, but there is something keeping others from connecting. What do you do with those stories? Do they go in the trunk, or do you keep revising your query letter and sending it out to the next agent on your list? 

If you just can't trunk them, perhaps it's because your characters are trying to tell you something. Maybe what you need to do is listen to your characters. There’s a chance that they are the problem.

 Successful characters can’t be perfect. They must have a flaw. It doesn’t have to be a major flaw, but often the really huge flaws are the ones that make the most memorable characters. We might have forgotten all about Rhett Butler’s gorgeous southern charm, or even how he managed to melt Scarlett’s knees with just a look. But we’re never going to forget that deep down, he was a scoundrel.

Think about some of the characters you’ve met in children’s literature. So many of them are portrayed as everything but hero material. They are the smallest, or the weakest, or the most likely to fail in every way. Yet they are the ones who overcome all the obstacles that the author throws at them, and come out not only victorious, but unforgettable as well. Perhaps the lesson for us would be that the more unlikely our character is, the more likely he is to be remembered.

A while back I tried to create a very unlikely hero. He’s clumsy, a bit overweight, clueless and delusional. But I’ve always had faith in his ability to bring a smile and become an unforgettable force to a child. He’s currently on submission to a publishing house that produces some of the most exciting artwork I’ve found in children’s books. I hope he possesses the elusive trait that will make him irresistible. I’ll keep you posted.

For now, I need to get back to a few of my other characters who have been ignored far too long. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back soon with another author interview, and I’ll be sure to bring chocolate next time. I hope everyone has a productive week, but don’t forget to take the time to enjoy the greening of the planet. The honeysuckle smells delicious today.


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