Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IWSG - Are my characters real?

It's time for another installation of The Insecure Writer's Support Group, which posts on the first Wednesday of every month and is run by our Ninja Captain Alex Cavanaugh.  Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Sorry I'm a little late today!  I forgot that IWSG was today and I worked all day.

Anyway -  I'm a bit insecure about my characters.  I am almost finished with my novel, "Nameless" and "Unless" (still haven't decided which title I like best) and when finished it should be around 100k.  That's my longest book and I'm concerned that my characters won't end up as the same character.  Yes, I know a character should change over the course of the novel and I don't want them to be flat.  I'm just concerned it won't be realistic.

For one - the first half of the book is third person limited from a male POV and I'm a girl.  Second, the second part is where one of the characters changes a lot.  I want her changes to be believable.  I also want both characters to be likeable.

How do I make sure my character is "in character" throughout the book?  How do you make sure your characters don't seem unrealistic?

16 comments:

  1. It is always hard to be objective about something so close to your heart. My advice would be to get a great editor, and if possible a few beta readers, so you get a truly objective opinion. That is the best way to know if what you want to transmit is actually being transmuted. Wish you the best!

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  2. Occasionally, especially if I've been working on a character for a while, I have to sit down and list everything I just *know* about them. And when people talk about character likability I always think of this pointer: flaws are important for realism, but we love characters because of their strengths (I believe I found this nota bene in Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass).

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  3. I agree with Georgina that it's hard to be objective and get some great critique partners and beta readers to help out. Also, some time away from a manuscript helps too. Good luck!

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  4. Just dropped in from IWSG and I have no other ideas for the topic. However I wanted to thanks you for asking the question because the comments helped me, too.

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  5. I can understand your concerns. The series I've spent most of my time on is going to be six books long, three of which have written through the first draft. I find myself second guessing how much my characters change over such a long time, and I write a lot of scenes from a male perspective. I'm still not convinced I do a good job with those scenes. Georgina's right that a writer is too close to it to judge.

    Best of luck!

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  6. I think Georgina pretty much got it right! It's all about having a good team of CPs around you to make sure everything's working the way you want it to! :D

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  7. Beta readers are invaluable!

    I also found that writing a short story from the POV of a character I couldn't put a face to really helped me to imagine him or her. For example, my main character's dad was essential to the story, but he was a bit of a cardboard cutout. When I wrote a short story about him, all from his perspective, it really helped me to envision him - foibles, warts and all.

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  8. I see Beta readers have already been mentioned, but that was my idea too! I really like the title Nameless, it makes me think more! If you want to exchange novels I'll be ready to do so sometime in February. If that's too late for you I understand, just let me know! And I'm sure your characters are more real than you think. They might need a little tweaking, but you'll get there. Good Luck!

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  9. I worry about this all the time too. The characters seem so real inside my head, but then I worry that they come across as flat or silly to others. I think the beta readers are a great idea! And I'm sure your characters are great anyway! :)

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  10. Yup... seems everyone else has already said it - CPs and Betas will tell you any weak or inauthentic bits to your characters - that's what they are there for - tough love :)
    Laura x

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  11. clearly I'll have to do one of these as well... I'll admit while I'm terrified to tell people the storyline to my game I'm also deeply curious how it's coming along and what people will think of it when it's done.

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  12. We posted about the same thing for the IWSG! Cool. :)

    I worry about writing through a male POV, too. Though I love writing male characters.

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  13. Excellent question. For me, it's knowing who your character is and what they want from the beginning, and do they get what they want? It can have a real growing effect to a character. And don't worry about writing POVs in the opposite sex. Some think I write girls better than guys, but I do my best in general. :)

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  14. wow, 100k. That is a big book for YA. It is tough to keep your characters vibrant and believable at the same time. Congrats on finishing. Happy New Year!

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  15. I'm gonna jump on the beta bandwagon. Mine are very good, nice, but will tell me when my characters are flatter than my breakfast pancake :)

    Happy new Year!

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  16. Except for CPs and betas, I do what I call a fast edit. Where I read and edit the whole thing in about a weekend. (My book was about 120k words at the time.)

    The reason for this is that I don't get bogged down in the finer stuff, so I see plot and character arches better. It's definitely worth a try, if you're worried.

    :-)

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