Sunday, July 23, 2006

It don't mean a thing...

When was the last time you heard, build a better character and you'll have a better story? Well maybe you've never heard it put quite that way but no doubt you've heard that memorable characters are the cornerstone of a good story. Characters that take you by the hand or grab you by the scruff of the neck and don't let go until you turn the last page or the credits roll. Those character's who leave you wondering about their lives long after you've finished the story.

Building a better character:

I could share with you what I’ve learned over the years about building great characters but as you may have guessed there are some great articles and books available. Anything I can say to you about the process of building characters that are memorable, has been written about blogged about and encapsulated in novel form so many times that I do you a disservice by even attempting to add my two cents.

The only key that I will share is research. Research is your friend. If you’ve created a character, please take the time to make sure his or her credentials are solid. Whether your character is a CEO or gang member learn as much as you can about the type of character you are writing about. Read. Don’t assume because some gang members tag in your neighborhood or your brother-in-law is a CEO that you understand the subtext of the culture. Of course if you are a CEO or a gang member that’s probably all the research you need. Okay Maybe you don't have time for in depth, slog to the library research. Check out the website They have in-depth information on a variety of subjects. Here's another gem I've run across to speed up yoour research.Careers for Characters by Raymond Obstfeld and Franz Neumann.

Here are my Top 10 resources for character development.
1. Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger. Seger is one of the preeminent screenwriters and script doctorsat work in America. Her services to the Hollywood elite don't come cheap but for the cost of her book you have the benefit of her years of experience. Hers is one of the first books I picked up and is still a much utilized reference.
2. Creating Characters:Let Them Whisper Their Secrets by Marisa D'vari. This one of the more recent books that I have had the pleasure utilizing. D'vari takes a more exoteric new world approach to the task of character development. Her techniques not only helped me get in touch with character's that were hiding secrets but it helped me to whisper a few of my own.
3. Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print by Lawrence Bloch. His Matt Scudder books rank as some of my all time favorites. However, the first book I ever read by him was "Writing the Novel". It was one of those books that as you read you are inspired. The margins are filled with plot and character ideas that I still refer to.

I realize that this is only three of my top 10 but I've been going strong all day and tomorrow's another early day. What say we pick this up tomorrow. Have a great night all.

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