Have you ever been referred to as ‘Quite a character’? Or have you thought of someone else that way? Let me tell you that as a writer, that phrase takes on a whole new meaning. Several times over the last few weeks, I have read blogs or heard references to how important characters are to a story. You can tell a tale of circumstances while sticking to the facts and still have an interesting story (depending on the facts and if you work really hard!) But to truly get into the story, you need something more; you need characters.
When I read a good book with well drawn characters, I get so drawn into the story that I become a part of it. I have been known to neglect my housewifely duties and my children to read a new book. I have stayed up until dawn reading one more chapter. My husband laughs at me because I will walk around the house, cook and even go to the bathroom reading as I go. (No pun intended)
Is it the circumstances and plot twists that hold me hostage? Sometimes, but it is the way the characters are drawn, the way I relate so intimately with them that truly holds me. If I set the book down, I feel like I am letting down my team and deserting them in their hour of need. If I lay a book aside out of necessity or exhaustion, I pick it up again as soon as I can. Because the hero can’t do it alone, he needs me!
In fact, I have to be careful about what books I read. I have found that if I am caught up in a book that is too depressing or the characters are mixed up in truly horrible trouble, I get depressed. I dream of the story, I struggle and suffer right along with them. The resulting depression can last for weeks and affect my whole family.
It is all about the characters. So as a writer, I am learning how to develop those characters that suck you in. They need to become real to me so that I can make them live for the reader, at least for as long as the book lasts. Who are they in their deepest thoughts? What is their greatest fear, their most secret dream? Do they bite their nails, snap their gum? Are they outgoing to cover up their shyness, or avoid the spotlight because they found a new pimple on their nose?
I don’t know the answers yet, but I can’t wait to find them out!