SPECIAL CHARACTERS AND HOW CHARACTERS SPEAK

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Why are your favourite characters in other writers’ stories your favourite? What is it about them that makes them stand out from the other characters in that story or book?

It pays to take time out now and again to think about these questions as the answers to them can inspire you as to how to make your own characters stand out in a way that is appropriate to them and your own story.

Another reason for reading widely and well (and including non-fiction) is you do learn from other writers and you can analyse what works well and what works less well. So the more you read, the more you can learn.

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Glad to say I’ll be taking part in the Hursley Park Book Fair in just under a month’s time. I’m there on the Saturday, 23rd June, and will also be giving a talk on flash fiction. The event is FREE, there is parking and a wide range of authors and genres will be represented. Hursley Park is the home of IBM and is between Romsey/Chandler’s Ford and Winchester and just on the edge of Hursley Village itself. Hope to see you there!

Book fair Flyer

Image Credit:  Many thanks to Glenn Salter for the book flyer image.

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Characters can speak in all sorts of ways, sometimes by not speaking at all! Silence as part of a story can be very powerful. A character usually happy to chat who suddenly clams up – I would want to know why, what happened to trigger the clamming up and so on.

Characters can always speak through “their” writing – diaries, letters to others and so on. Characters can also speak in the way that they talk. For example, you could have a character who refuses to use contractions and as a result their speech is far more formal than everybody else’s.

Characters can also “speak” through how they treat each other. Are they as nice as pie to most people but treat Character X despicably? Wouldn’t you want to read on and find out why?

So what are your characters telling you and your readers? And are you aware of what your characters are saying or do they surprise you (sometimes)? One of my favourite things as a writer is when I write a line and just know it is exactly what that character would say, but I also relish the “out of the ball park” moments when my characters surprise me. I like to explore where that takes me as I nearly always discover something more about my characters.

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What is the image that you want to leave in the minds of your readers from your flash story? How will you achieve that? What impact do you want your flash tale to have on your readers?

I often ask myself the latter and so think along the lines that I want this story to be a dark one, another a light one and so on. I then ask myself how can I achieve this and prepare an outline. As other ideas come to me I add them to the outline and then work out which would be best.

My outlines for flash are, appropriately, brief but they help me to focus on what I want the story to “do”.

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My next book event will be at the Hursley Park Book Fair on 23rd June. I will be posting more details about this via Chandler’s Ford Today nearer the time but I wanted to flag it up a little early as it is a FREE event, there is plenty of parking and a wide range of authors and genres will be represented. I’m waving the flag, so to speak, for flash fiction and will be speaking about it at the event too.

The Fair is on 23rd and 24th June and my only regret is I can’t be there on the 24th as well, but these things happen! Having said that, I hope there will be a good turnout on both days. Sure to be good fun!

SIDE VIEW MIBI DISPLAY

My book (and a friend’s!) on sale at a local gift shop.  Image by Allison Symes

Books from Bridge House, Chapeltown and Cafelit

Some of my published works, the majority are anthologies.  Image by Allison Symes

Don't think I'll ever tire of signing my books

Don’t think I’ll tire of signing my books!  Image by Adrian Symes

Let creativity spill out - image via Pixabay

Let your creativity spill over.  Image via Pixabay

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

Some thoughts to ponder as you create your fictional world. What would happen when push came to shove for your characters?

What do your characters do when under extreme pressure? (What is the first of their virtues to suddenly bite the dust?).

What laws do your government(s) bring in to cope with emergencies? (What freedoms and rights suddenly bite the dust?).

What good qualities does your hero/heroine suddenly discover they’ve got in response to a quest or other task they know they’ve got to see through no matter what?

What would it take for your hero/heroine to either break or compromise with evil?

What would your fictional world do to defend itself (and what could threaten it)?

What is the driving force behind your characters’ motivations and actions?

Are the media still free to operate in an emergency situation or do new rules come in?

How do the “good guys” remain “good guys”? What do they do to fight the temptation to compromise with evil?

What triggers the “push”? Who or what is behind the threats to your fictional worlds ?

Are your characters better for having been put through so much pressure or have they caved in and what are the consequences?

There is definitely plenty of stories to be written here, just answering some of those! Okay, they may be on the dark end of the scale as opposed to the light but there may be a place for your characters to show humour in the face of adversity. (Equally whether it is appropriate humour or not would tell your readers quite a bit about them).

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog – Character IDs

In every good book or story, there is at least one standout character. Something about that character grips you so you have to keep reading until the end of the story.

So it pays, as a writer, to work out what exactly it is about that character which gives them their unique standout identity. How has the writer treated their character’s faults and virtues?

It pays writers then to read widely and across genres, including non-fiction. The more you read, the more you take in what other writers have done with their characters and that can inspire you with your own.

We all have favourite books and most of the time the reason they’re our favourites is because of the characters. (They don’t have to be the heroes either).

Characters have to be special to make a story work. For me, some of my favourite characters include:-

1. Frodo Baggins/Sam Gamgee
2. Severus Snape
3. Robin Hood
4. Jeeves and Wooster
5. Sam Vimes
6. The Patrician (Ankh-Morpork)
7. Hercule Poirot
8. Sherlock Holmes
9. Jane Marple
10. Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy

All of these have traits that make them unforgettable (even if some of these, as with Sherlock, would make them questionable even now).

So what qualities do you look for in stories you read that really identify the character as the standout one for you?

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