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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Actions to fit your characters

by Ronie Kendig from Double Crit editing service

The scene was set. My heroine finally knew she’d fallen in love with the hero. As they stood on a beach, he told her they’d have to keep their distance because he couldn’t focus. So, what did my feisty, independent woman do? She kissed him back.

I stopped writing. Staring at the screen, I wondered if that was right. Did it fit with her character? How do you know what is right and what isn’t? Have you done the research to understand personality styles and characterization? Without this vital research, you might have a maiden leading a crusade for women’s liberation.

Okay, sure. Anything is possible—but only with the right framework. Only if you’ve established credence to why your character is responding in such a way. For me, the above scenario proved right. My heroine demanded control of a situation. When the hero draws the line, she steps over it. Without the knowledge that my heroine had this flare in her personality, I would’ve rewritten this scene. Wrote her into compliance, per se.

Do you find yourself doing that? Forcing your character to fit your story? It’s like trying to tell a four year old child to solve an algebraic equation. It’s just not possible (yes, genius and mensa and prodigies aside…). Only by becoming intimately acquainted with your characters will you be able to write them into compelling scenarios.

Another story I wrote, the most important character trait to my hero was honor. At the end of the story, a situation has arisen where the woman he loves is revealed to be married to a man everyone thought dead. My hero had no choice by to “relinquish” his love for her. It was the honorable thing. The right thing.

Did this ending make me happy? No. I’m a consummate romantic. I love happy endings. And it sure didn’t make my crit partners happy. I think Robin had to buy a new monitor since she didn’t have the story in book-form to throw across the room. :-D But I wrote the ending that fit with the character and the story. By doing this, you will leave your readers satisfied (and maybe a little angry on behalf or your characters).

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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