A while back I read a magazine article about crafting strong characters in fiction. I tried to find it online but unfortunately had no luck. My best guess is I saw it in Writer’s Digest but forgive me if I’m wrong!
In any case, the author wrote something that really stuck with me. In fiction, and indeed in real life, relationships are often defined by the secrets characters keep from one another. Brilliant.
This advice remains something I actively think about when trying to create believable characters in my own fiction. That is, when I’m not simply using people from my real life in thinly-veiled character studies. (I kid, I kid).
There are a whole heap of things the characters in A Paris Apartment are hiding, but I made a more conscious effort in my latest novel after having read that article. And, oh man, these people have some seriously shady things going on!
[Side note: can I just say how much lighter I feel after having lobbed my latest–and another manuscript–over to my agent? I’ve been working on it for over a year!]
Anyway I’m always thinking about what makes great fictional characters and am in awe whenever I “meet” one that affects me. My all time favorite character? The protagonist in A Prayer for Owen Meany.
Right now I am about 75% through Heft by Liz Moore and I cannot remember a time when I’ve encountered such a group of complex, rich, flawed, wonderful characters. You know how it is in fiction. Best case, you might love one or two characters, and be pretty okay with the rest. Every single person in Heft is brilliantly portrayed. I’ve been thinking about Kel and Arthur and Charlene and Yolanda all day.
A funny and apropos side note. Last night, just as I was thinking, “why is every character in this book so amazing? I am not worthy!” I flipped the page and there was a line that made me laugh out loud. A little background if you haven’t hung out here too much: I sort of like the San Diego Chargers. Rather, I like them in the same way The Cookie Monster likes cookies, but in a less subtle fashion. I have Chargers crumbs all over me at all times.
So, in Heft, one of the characters is a teenage boy named Kel. He listens to sports radio incessantly (feel ya Kel). At one point he calls into a sports radio show (not a spoiler) and says: “I have to disagree with him…About Eli. I think if his last name wasn’t Manning he’d be a backup in San Diego right now.”
OMG, yes Kel! I have said those very words! Should I feel weird that I relate to an eighteen year old boy? 😉 Chargers aside, I cannot recommend this book enough. Blown away.
Speaking of football, if you watched the Super Bowl, I hope you had enough beer/nachos to compensate for the boredom/drubbing. I’m happy for the Seahawks. I love a good underdog story (not a single person on their 53-man roster had ever even been to the Super Bowl) and my oldest daughter is a huge fan, mostly due to her penchant for the color lime green.
I guess it’s time to move onto NCAA hoops! Let’s go #5 SDSU Aztecs! We’re headed to a game this weekend. Can’t wait.
Have a great week everyone!