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A Post About Character Development, part I

Today I begin a two-part post about Character Development. Part I of this discussion, aptly named “Character Development, part I” (maybe I’ll do a post about coming up with original catchy titles next week; won’t THAT be helpful…?) is posted today at http://magicalwords.net. Here I describe the basics in my approach to developing my main character for a new book or series. Part II of the discussion will be posted on Tuesday at http://www.sfnovelists.com. In that post, I’ll delve into a bit more detail and talk about what I do with my characters once I’ve come up with basic information about them. I hope you’ll enjoy both posts and will find them helpful.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 22nd, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC)
I agree with your thoughts on the importance of characterization. I often try to strike a balance between character and world in my own fiction, but when push comes to shove I always default toward characterization.

It seems way too many hard SF writers do a downright miserable job with characterization. I love Clarke, but we remember the spaceship in Rendezvous With Rama, not the characters, and the iconic symbols and structures in 2001: A Space Odyssey -- although I will spot you HAL. But I'm not picking on Clarke, because Clement, Asimov, Niven, and Benford (to name a few) all suffer from an inability to create living, breathing, and therefore memorable, characters.

Think of the great novels of literature through time. It is the characters who endure, not the setting in which they appear. Huckleberry Finn. Ahab. Long John Silver. Humbert Humbert. Quasimodo.

I believe characterization is very important. I may be in the minority, I dunno, but I think even a weak story can sell if it has strong characterization. As I said before I prefer a balance, but when in doubt, you can do a lot worse than defaulting toward character development.

Eh. My two yen.
Sep. 22nd, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, Mark. Clearly I agree with you, and I believe as you do that what I take from a great book is the people. I read Nicola Griffith's SLOW RIVER several years back and can barely remember the storyline. But the character of Spanner has stayed with me ever since. Just one example.
Sep. 23rd, 2008 09:16 pm (UTC)
/stalker-fangirl on

Hi D.!

I read this over on Magical Words and wanted to respond, but then thought, "no, even for me this is too geeky" so decided to come here and stalk your LJ instead!

I don't write but I have had call to create characters for game (D&D). I never really like them and after reading your post I think it's because I don't get to know them well enough before I start playing with them.

I'm going to steal some of your ideas and see if it improves my characters and makes them more fun to play.

Thanks for the ideas!

/stalker-fangirl off
Sep. 23rd, 2008 09:39 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the comment, stalker-fangirl! ;)

Hope these ideas prove helpful. I really believe that you can never know too much about your characters. You can tell your readers too much -- you certainly shouldn't share all you know. But as an author there's no such thing as too much understanding of the people you're writing about.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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David B. Coe

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