Speaking of Character by Darlene Beck Jacobson
In keeping with our CLAWS theme this month, I am going to speak a bit about CHARACTER and how it relates to my own storytelling.When I looked up character in my trusty old Webster's New World Dictionary there were sixteen definitions for the word.
The ones that cut to the heart of Character for me as a writer are also the ones that build the best qualities in individuals as characters.
A distinctive quality or trait
The pattern of behavior or personality found in an individual or group.
Moral strength or fortitude
An odd, eccentric, or noteworthy person.
A person in a story or novel.
Which brings us to a writer's use of the word. For some authors, a solid idea and plot structure are the elements that launch a story. Others might have a setting so compelling they have to write about it to see where it takes them.
For me, a story always begins with CHARACTER. Or the strong, insistent voice of a character that will not be silenced. A voice that begs me to "listen, take note, pay attention because what I have to say is really important."
Ignoring the voice is not an option, When I listen, I am amazed at the things the character tells me and how the story begins to grow. Even when I get stuck in the muddy middle of a manuscript, when I tune back into that character's voice, I usually get back on track and find a way out of the hole I'm in.
For me, the voice of the character leads to those qualities of character we want to see in our heroes and heroines.When you let a character take over, anything can happen. That's the best kind of writing there is.