Sunday, November 11, 2007 they come to life?

Last week, I chatted about finding the right setting for a story, and about how some authors start with characters, some with an exciting situation or a conflict. Since I usually start with a setting, my next big question is:

What characters can I bring into this setting for good, automatic conflict within that setting--and with each other?

Real life is hardly the stuff of compelling fiction. For those of you are writing, you've probably had people ask if you base your characters on your friends or relatives. Do you? It's not as easy as simply plucking personalities from your daily life, is it!

You need strong characters with strong inner conflicts. Emotional baggage that makes it difficult for them to overcome all of the troubles in the story--whether there's a villain, or the threat of terrible weather, or foreclosure, or "the end of the world as we know it." And also, there need to be inner conflicts in your main characters that keep them apart---so they can't easily fall in love with Mr. Right, and live happily ever after. Without strong, believable conflict, the story will end in Chapter Two!

To make these conflicts stronger, these emotional wounds and barriers existed long before this story; but our characters have somehow managed to continue on in life...until this situation and this hero (or heroine!) upsets their status quo. Tossing your characters into a situation with strong, believable external conflicts gives them a forge on which they must begin to change and grow, and then finally overcome the inner barriers that have been holding them back.

So...if you are a writer, how do you come up with all of this? Do you have any tried and true techniques? And readers---can you name some of your all-time, favorite characters in novel? What made them so special? Were they perfect, admirable people who did everything right---or did they have flaws and weaknesses?

I look forward to pursuing this further next week!

By the way---on November 12th, my FREE "Online Read" will begin! Go to, look down the right-hand column, and click "READ". It's an inspirational suspense titled Dangerous Redemption, and it will be starting Monday, with short, quick chapters posted every day. Hope you will stop by!

Roxanne Rustand

No comments: