I go crazy when I write a character, and I think a lot of other writers do too.
You have to remember a character is a person, and if they don’t sound right, or if they have the wrong style and air, the reader will not understand them, and they will think that all of the characters sound the same.
A writer has to have a style, a flare about their writing and the character is just something that makes the writing better. I mean, could you image a story with no characters? Yeah, it’s called any college textbook I’ve ever had! (Just kidding… but not really.)
Characters are the life of the story, whether you write in third person or first, they always grab your attention. And I like stories where the characters have quirks. Like they’re always sarcastic or they sleep with a stuffed animal, and they’re supposed to be a badass (excuse the language). Stuff like that makes the character funny and personable.
Then of course, there are times when you don’t want the character to be liked, which is hard for a writer, because a character is like a child to them. We think them up and when we have to make them annoying, mean or just plain nasty, we feel what that character is feeling inside, and we hate them right along with the reader.
There is another problem that a writer faces with characters… killing them off. I cannot stand doing that. It’s like my whole-body aches from the inside out, and my heart breaks a little each time. Even when I re-read and edit the parts where I kill one of my characters off, I just bawl like a baby. I can’t help it. And when I do it for the first-time… as us Italians say, “forgedaboudit!” I cry so hard that I can’t see the keys on my keyboard.
Some writers don’t have that kind of emotional bond with their characters, but I think that if you make yourself upset enough when you kill off a character it will come off in your work. A lot of writers might look at me like I’m crazy, and I’ve been told that I am. But I think of characters as the children (like I said before) created by an author’s mind, and I just can’t stand when they die. It hurts me, but I guess I’m just sentimental like that.
A character (to me anyway) is an emotionally charged time bomb that’s just waiting to explode. I love characters like that. You can just hear their brains ticking away, and you laugh with them and cry with them. That’s what separates the great characters from the… well… not so great, the facts that you feel with them and for them no matter what the writer puts them through.
So, what’s your definition of a great character?
The Fiction Writer