Thursday, 23 June 2011

Characters

In answer to the Alternative Read Blog Hop question:
When creating a main character, is it better to start with a good girl/guy with a drop of bad or vice versa?


When devising a fictional character, we should choose their unique set of characteristics with care to ensure they are believable.

One technique to avoid stereotypes and clich├ęs is to mix and match attributes so that characters take on a distinct personality, but credibility is still key.

For my part, I tend to draw on the real world - people I know (or know of), personal experiences etc.

Characters should be complex, not one dimensional i.e. like people in the real world. Certain characteristics may dominate, but generally people are a mix of a range of characteristics, and which ones come to the fore will vary in different situations. A well-drawn character will have positive and negative aspects and the mix of good/bad will change during the course of a novel as characters respond to the dynamic circumstances of the plot.

If we regard characters as being on a journey where conflict plays a pivotal role, it figures that the early stages of a novel where conflict is rife will be more likely to bring out the 'bad'side of a character than the later stages when the conflict has beeen resolved.

In my writing, I find that my characters grow almost organically so they develop and change throughout the course of a novel anyway.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

CLIFFHANGERS

A cliffhanger might be defined as a moment of suspense that leaves a reader on tenterhooks waiting to find out what happens next.
One might argue that the greater the tension, the greater the impact, but how much drama can a book take? Cliffhangers are useful devices on which to end chapters, but used too often they might become repetitive and rather predictable (the antithesis of what they should be) thus losing impact. Also, they must fit naturally into the plot and fit with the overall flow of the book. Forced cliffhangers that are largely irrelevant are likely to be transparent to a reader and a turn-off. There should be some future response to the cliffhanger which moves the plot forwards.
There is a clear argument for cliffhangers in serials, but as a reader I feel there has to be a balance. Sometimes I prefer a chapter to end with a resolution and the new one to start with a teaser introducing a new problem. If the book has succeeded in hooking me already, this isn't a deterrent to continue reading and may even provide a welcome natural break for sleep and other mundane necessities!
Finally, what about genres? Clearly, cliffhangers have an important role in suspense/crime novels, but there is plenty of scope in romance, too. A romance promises to deliver love and the more precarious the path towards it, the more the tension heightens and the sweeter the final reward.
What I don't like, however, are books that end on a cliffhanger. Open endings I can deal with, but cliffhanger endings definitely not!