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Friday, October 05, 2007

Characterization and Garnishing

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

My husband won a gift certificate to one of Dallas’ finest restaurants. They had a waiting list out the wazoo. We won’t mention the Lamborghinis or Ferraris at the valet parking (bet those attendants enjoyed their jobs!). Everything delivered to our table had the best presentation and garnishing, along with respect. All together, these finer elements made up the most impressive meal I’d ever had in my life.

We need to learn from the restaurant industry. We want our readers to go away satisfied, ready and willing to trust us as writers when our next book comes out. So, how do you garnish your story? How do you impress a satisfying story upon your reader? You start with your character, having interviewed them and defined their personality, you add quirks, obsessions, or paralyzing fears. These garnishings make your character tangible to your reader. That’s the sprig of parsley on your $100 steak, the shaving of chocolate on your tira misu.

In the years I’ve been editing and critiquing, the one thing that strangles a story is flat characters. Granted, there are only so many ways you can walk a dog, but the attitude in the story is what grabs the editor by the throat, demanding they finish reading. Since Camy is so kind to host us, I’m make a point of reference to one of her heroines who had a thing for disinfecting everything. I can clearly remembering critiquing her story and loving that person, identifying with her (although I’m not really OCD about germs). This helped set her book apart, helped me remember her character.

So, get back to your rockin’ story and bring your character to life with a sprig of parsley or a shaving of chocolate. Deepen them, making them satisfying and set apart!

Double Crit is a unique freelance editing service that offers high-level critiques of fiction book proposals and manuscripts from two experienced editors. Whether you’re preparing for a conference or getting ready to submit your manuscript to editors or agents, we can help.

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