The most scary nightmare an author can endure is that a limp character will show up. What terrifies an author? Finding that a story has finished with characters who are less exciting and alive than cardboard paper dolls!
No plot wrapped around an historical event or fanning out over something totally imaginary can satisfy a reader’s drive to enjoy a darn good story if the characters are less than memorable! Good characters, all sweetness and light, along with the wicked characters, oozing evil and terror must still LIVE for the reader.
Characters must LIVE for an author even more, if you can believe that! At least this axiom of lively characters is true for me as an author. I find myself choking on the dust of a boring, bland, tasteless character, person or animal, when one tries to wiggle into a story. The story is brought to a screeching halt.
Readers have no idea how many stories are tossed into the wastebasket because the population of characters has crumbled to a collection of nothings, only capable of putting a reader into a semi-trance. The reader would not be fully engaged with nothings. Readers would maintain enough awareness to be thoroughly irritated at having spent good money to get such a worthless story! Readers even resent the effort taken to get a FREE copy of a worthless story. As an author who experiences serious physical and emotional pain when caught in the grasp of a worthless story, I absolutely do not blame these resentful readers.
The Lively Character – Step by Step
There are many steps I take to learn to know the characters in my stories. I want to make sure the lively ones survive because I have not neglected getting to know them. I ‘listen’ to learn their favorite foods. Closets are filled with beautiful clothes. I share the clothes I’m selecting for them with friends on Facebook! Friends get to share their opinion about the clothing helping me know what to leave out of the character’s closet! I note the favorite accessories, jewelry, scarves, gloves, hats, weapons. Each character prefers different things.
I furnish the rooms of their house with their favorite pieces. Characters with a passion for antiques fine their story offers only the best — ancient, well-preserved, significant to the character and maybe the his family! When ample, bright kitchens are the favorite room in the house, the kitchen in the story will welcome readers with delightful appliances. That kitchen serves up mouth-watering dishes with flair. Presentation is everything!
Let’s not forget the transportation. I explore and study each one’s favorite automobile, carriage, bus, taxi or train!
The Lively Character and I Get Along Well As We Live Together!
In a good story with lively characters, these characters become the people of most of my social contact during the writing. We walk together throughout the house. We stroll to the park or the mailbox. The pair of us become much more than memorable so that the character will be lively and memorable for the readers.
There is much more to being an author than owning a pencil or a keyboard! This is a life process that is such a deep part of them that I cannot seem to shut it off! That is a problem that I don’t mind having…I want to keep spinning the stories with the lively characters. They become lively people or pets that are embedded in the memory of readers.