Thursday, September 23, 2010

Writing Compelling Characters

So in answer to Elana Johnson's blog challenge (http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-do-i-blog-about.html) here is my post:

I think the keys to creating Compelling characters are three fold:

1. They have to have weaknesses, such as something that the bad guy can exploit, or something that can be an obstacle. Some examples of this in popular fiction is Superman's Kryptonite, or Indiana Jones fear of snakes.

2. They usually have something unique about them to help them stick out in a crowd. Examples would be Harry Potter's Scar or Blade is a half vampire, half human, so he doesn't have the same weaknesses as normal vampires.

3. They can be related to by having a goal, or desire that everyone has felt once in their life at once. An example of this would be a characters desire to be liked , such as Carrie in "Carrie," or the want of a dream, such as Jersey in the movie "Coyote Ugly."

So I think every character has one or more of these traits that makes them compelling. The importance of having a compelling character is that it makes for a much more involved read because you connect with the character and go through their successes, and failures. This is what makes a compelling story since great characters can make a good story even better.


17 comments:

  1. Weakness. This is a good point. Compelling characters can't be perfect.

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  2. Yes, weaknesses, flaws, quirks.

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    Happy weekend,
    Lola

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  3. I like your second one--that they usually have something that makes them unique. I really like this, but it's something that I'm trying to overcome. I want to write about a person that everyone can see themselves in. We don't all have scars, etc, so how do we relate? It's an interesting thing, and I may suck at it. But I'm trying.

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  4. Those are all great qualities for compelling characters - I'm a big believer in unique traits! :-)

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  5. I like the unique trait angle. It's always compelling (to me at least) when there's some identifiable quirk that will stick with me even after the last page has turned.

    Cheers,
    Jen

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  6. Yep, they've got to have something (inwards) that's driving them.... Nice post!

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  7. I've heard that Superman originally was completely invulnerable, but it didn't work too well for story purposes. Hence the Kryptonite. Good point!

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  8. Your 3 points are great. Weakness, Unique and a goal. With these, your character will become a more realistic person AND more likeable or less likeable, depending on whether we're creating a good guy or a bad guy. LOL =D

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  9. Your 3 points are spot on. Every character needs all three to be compelling.

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  10. Great points for making compelling chracters: weaknesses, goals and uniqueness. Nice one :)

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  11. I love your simple formula to creating compelling characters. Isn't it funny how the writer loves to expose them while we hide our own? Yet we expose our souls through our writing. :)

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  12. I love your examples—very relatable.

    Great post!

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  13. Oh, #2 is a great one! Something unique. We're all unique in our own way.

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  14. I want to thank you all for your wonderful comments.

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  15. Today I while I was driving there was this guy in front of me that kept reaching to the top of his head and fussing with his hair the point of making him be distracted driver. After awhile it became obvious that this was a nervous habit of pulling the hair on a not so hairy head. His self-consciousness about his thinning scalp was actually drawing attention to it. (Either that or he was pulling his own hair out) Anyway, I wrote this in my notebook because I found it to be an interesting character trait. Ha! Thanks for your post! :)

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