September 4th, 2012:
This post by R.J. Ellory is a month old and was posted before the disappointing news broke about his poor choice of leaving himself 5-star reviews under fake names. Even worse, he attacked fellow authors. Ellory has since made a statement, but in light of his mistreatment of fellow authors, I’ve decided to remove this post. Sorry to all who didn’t get to read it.
Characters…that’s it, that’s the THING. Writers who can create characters we care about write books we want to read…and read…and read. 🙂
Absolutely! And IMO, creating those characters is the hardest thing about writing. Thanks!
Characters is IT for me! I can forgive a lot in a plot but must love the characters to go on. Why read about people we dont care about? Great post
Me, too. I’ve read some loosely plotted books that had fantastic characters – they were the only thing that kept me reading. Thanks!
That’s what does it for me, too. If I don’t CARE about the character, then all the flash-boom-crash is hollow. Sort of like sparkly jewelry that upon closer look turns out to be plastic rather than the real deal. And I don’t have to necessarily like the character, but there needs to be some emotional resonance (love, hate, frustration) so that we feel empathy. THAT makes the stakes in the story our own and we’re more willing to go along for the ride.
Absolutely. Doesn’t matter how amazing the plot is – if the character doesn’t move me it’s all for nothing. You made a really good point, too. It’s not about liking the character – it’s about identifying with them.
The other night I was talking to my mom about the ending of one of our favorite TV shows. It’s down to the last few episodes and the writers killed off the main character’s mother. My mom said, “Why does it matter who dies? The show’s ending anyway, so it’s not like you’ll miss seeing them on the show.” But she missed the point. I was invested in the characters and even after the show ends, I wanted to feel like they’re okay. That’s the kind of caring I think we’re all trying to build in our readers, and you’re right–I think that’s what keeps them turning pages (or watching).
I completely understand. When you’ve invested yourself into a show like that, losing a character or seeing one have an unsatisfactory ending sticks with you. They live on in our heads – and YES, that’s exactly what we’re all striving for.
I write thrillers, so I really appreciate this interview, Stacy. Thanks for sharing Roger’s views today. And yes, please pick me!!!
So glad you liked it! And you’re very welcome. LOL, good luck!
Terrific insight here, Roger. I love your suggestion of thinking of our own books as classics, and writing the stories we’d hope to read. The thoughtfulness and passion you infuse into your writing is evident in this post, and I know from experience, your books.
I highly recommend Roger’s books, you guys. They are intimate, suspenseful and unforgettable. And if you get a chance to meet him at an event one day, I recommend it. He’s an all around warm, fantastic guy.
Thanks for commenting, August! I loved Roger’s post as well and can’t thank you enough for helping me:)
What interested me here is the concept of figuring out the emotional effect I want to create and letting my characters come from that. Great advice. I’m going to play with it some. 😀
Exactly. I loved Roger’s post – I’ve already learned so much. Glad you enjoyed!
It’s all about character and making me care about them. They pull me into the story and make me grab a tissue.
Me, too. Without characters a book is nothing. Thanks so much for stopping by!
Wonderful advice. Thank you! I know when I’m reading I need to feel a connection to the character. The rest is important, but if I don’t have that emotional connection I won’t care about the rest. I just hope I can give that to my readers — I’m definitely working on it.
Thanks, Rhonda! So glad you enjoyed it. I feel the same about character as well. It’s the main reason I connect to a book, and it needs to happen right away.
Characterization is everything to me. I HAVE to connect to the character in order to really get into the story. This was a great blog post! Thank you, both.
Absolutely. I’m the same way, and as I told Rhonda, the connection needs to happen asap. Thanks!
Characters make or break the book for me too. I want to see them change and grow by the end of the story, reacting to the events of the story. Thanks for the insightful post.
🙂 So glad we’re all in agreement, and yes, characters must grow. I can handle a flawed character as long as their arc progresses. Thanks for stopping by.
Tiffany A White
What a great post for writers… and readers! I realize setting is important, but it’s all about the characters as far as I’m concerned. If a reader can’t connect with the character, who knows if they’ll connect with the story. It’s nice to meet you, Mr. Ellory. Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!
Isn’t it? I learned so much from Roger’s post. So glad you enjoyed, Tiffany!
Making a book “unputdownable” is hard, but when you’re reading one, you just know it.
Absolutely true. Thanks for stopping by, Lydia!
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Reggie Ridgway (@reggieridgway)
Great post. Thanks for the great food for thought. I mostly read thrillers and horror. The tension and the plausible situation keep me in. If I don’t believe what I am reading I loose interest. Roger hit the nail on the head with this post and am grateful to Stacie for her blog. Keep up the great work and have to check out Rogers’s thrillers.
Books and stories not forgotten are ones where you invest in the characters and you care for them as if they were real. You are sad, scared,happy and angry with and for them. You think if they were real you would be friends with them. The best written characters are where you know they are the villian and you should be hoping the story turns against them, that the protaganist gets his revenge finally but yet you find yourself rooting for the bad guy. You start to see qualities in his character that you could relate with or you feel compassion or you even like their dark twisted humor that is supposed to repulse the reader. This story is amazing, would be amazing as a movie! Ernesto Perez is a character not forgotten
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