September 12, 2012

Writing Club Wednesdays: Connecting With Characters

Writing Club Wednesdays are a weekly feature where one of us Misfits talks about writing, reading, or publishing. This week I want to talk about something that I positively love, but usually have a lot--a LOT--of trouble with when I'm reading: connecting with the characters. (This goes with Monday's Pep Rally post, so you should probably go check that out, too.)

What happens when I DO connect with a character.

If you're a writer, the connection you have with your characters can make or break your manuscript. If you're a reader, the connection (or lack thereof) you feel with the characters in a book can make you love it or hate it or set it aside in unadulterated boredom. It's the writer's job to make sure the reader connects.

So how, as a writer, do you keep your readers interested in your characters?

You have to make them see what you see in the character. All that development you did? All those little extra scenes that show off the character's traits?

Show them off.

Not the scenes, but the traits. Show off your character's character in every. single. scene. they're in. One of my favorite characters from recent YA is Finnick Odair from the Hunger Games Trilogy. Every word he says, everything he does has Finnick written on it, and you know Suzanne Collins had a connected to that character--and you're seeing it in action. He's a secondary character, yet I felt just as connected to him as I did to Katniss.

You can connect with a character even if you only get little glimpses into who they are, as long as they're the right glimpses. In real life, you can learn everything you need to know about a person from a single unique gesture, or a certain thing they say (or even the way they say it). The same goes for fictional characters.

Of course, this is definitely easier said than done. Sometimes it takes focus, sometimes it just takes spending a lot of time with the characters.

What about you guys? Have any special characters you really connected with, whether they're yours or someone else's? What was it about them that clicked with you?


Sarah Wedgbrow said...

I very much connected with Elisa from Girl of Fire and Thorns. I was lucky to get my hands on an ARC of Crown of Embers and I love her even more. At first, she's fat and not very graceful. She holds up the people in her travelling party going across the desert. But later her transformation into a formidable queen is fantastic!! She questions herself all the time, but in the end she manages to overcome. I love the human-ness in that.

My characters? I like the ones that are completely different to me.

So I like reading and connecting to characters like me, but then I like writing about the ones that aren't.

Great post!

erica m. chapman said...

Grrr MOCKINGJAY. I wanted that book as far from me as it could go. SO frustrating. All I'm gonna say about that.

I totally agree, it's that connection that keeps me going. I think, personally, this is the most important thing in a story. All the other stuff matters, but if you don't CARE about that character, it's all irrelevant. Hmm, I've connected to a few. Basically anyone John Green writes ;o)

Excellent post <3

Ellen Rozek said...

This is the typical answer I give when asked which characters I really connected to, but I have yet to read a novel where the MC reminded me more of myself. It was almost frightening.

Jade, the protagonist in Deb Caletti's "The Nature of Jade" is basically me when I was in high school. You know, minus the hot guy and his little kid. :) I really need to go back and reread the book one of those days, because wow. What a compelling, well told story.

Gina said...

Okay, I'm just gonna say that self portrait is the freaking cutest thing ever, even if it's of your rage face.

Cat York said...

I also am going to give the rageface comic some love. As for characters, my YA reading friends got me hooked on Maggie Stiefvator, and I love how she switches POVs and you can actually hear how each character thinks differently. Pretty cool.

Valerie Noble said...

I really connected with Hermione Granger- misfit know-it-all. I can hear her voice in my head and when in a sticky situation I can wonder "what would Hermione do?" and figure my way out of it. On screen, it was the way her hand shot up to answer a question in class that truly brought her personality to life.

Carrie-Anne said...

I've really connected with two of the protagonists in the books I've read so far for my YA Lit class. Both are graphic novels, Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol. I really connected to Skim because she's only a few years older than I am (the book takes place during her sophomore year in 1993-94), and it was really easy to relate to her. She and Anya are both on the outskirts of the high school caste system, and don't care so much about becoming popular and just like everyone else. I would've loved to have been friends with both of them in high school, since they were fellow loners unafraid to do their own thing.

Alex Brown said...

I actually wrote a couple of blog posts on this! For my WIP, I've had those awesome connection moments with both of my MCs, and am totally stoked about it! As far as characters from other books, I'd have to go with Cas, from "Anna Dressed in Blood" - he is the right bit of cynical, snarky, and caring (even if he's not the best at showing it). Also, Katniss. Always Katniss.

Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Blogger Templates