Several months ago I began listening to an audiobook. It was an Amish story. I don’t normally read Amish books, but this one sounded different. I downloaded it, got involved with the characters but could not finish it. I just knew the hero’s dad was going to make life very difficult for him and the heroine. It bothered me, and I remember thinking, “I can’t get emotionally involved right now.” So, I stopped reading.
Today, I wish I could remember the title, because I’d like to finish that book. But, what made me stop? It wasn’t that I didn’t have time to get involved; I always have time for a good book. No, time wasn’t the problem. I actually think that it went deeper than that. I think, now that it’s been a while since I listened to it that I connected with the characters…cared too much. As my characters in my current WIP would say, “Sounds daft.” But, it’s true. It hurt me as much as it did the hero and heroine, and I couldn’t deal with that at the time.
Could I now? I don’t know. But, I do know that I have hit upon what makes us readers close a book, sigh with a long sigh and say, “Ah, now that was a good book!”
If we don’t connect with the characters in a story, then we could care less. And now, faithful reader, you know what has been running around in my brain these last couple of days. 🙂
It has little to do with setting, author, plot or even genre; it’s characters…people behind the stories. It’s something I’m striving for with each book I write. I want to become my characters, so that they can pop off the page and into your head. Why? Because, I want you to laugh and cry with them, groan and plan with them, gritt your teeth and say, “Don’t do that, stupid!” as I do. LOL
I have a talent for imagining the worst, when it hasn’t even happened yet. Of course, many would say this is not a talent but an annoyance. But, it sure does come in handy when I need to get into a character’s head. How do I know what a modern woman from West Virginia would do if she found herself in 15th century Scotland? I can imagine it. I asked myself while writing that book, “What would you do?”
Oh, and the answer, “I don’t know,” is not an option. 🙂
So, if you are an aspiring author and want to study how to create awesome characters, study Diana Gabaldon. The folks in her books are interesting, funny, and everything in between.
Oh, and you don’t have to like everything a character says or does in order for him or her to be great. Take Lord John Grey, for instance. I don’t agree with his lifestyle. I don’t want to read about his love interests. But, he’s a great character. I like him, and I want to read on to know what will happen next.
A year or so ago, I read a book with a perfectly awful antagonist. He was so good at being bad, I wanted to finish the book because of him. 🙂
So, with all this talk about characters, do I have a point? Yeah, I do, but I’m not sure what it is, yet. I guess I’m just trying to set down what’s been on my heart, as I said a few paragraphs ago. If there is no emotion in the reading or writing, then there is no story. An author must dig deep to be real enough to grab the reader.
A friend said to me the other day, “I have nothing. I don’t know what’s next in my story. My characters have stopped talking to me.”
My response was, “You’re too busy to listen.”
Maybe, I do too much imagining. Perhaps, I’m just a dreamer. And, yeah, sometimes, I can sit on my couch or curl up in my bed for long periods of time inside my own head. But, if you don’t get quiet, characters won’t talk. And, if you don’t learn to wait and listen, you’ll miss the best kind of stuff. Learning to listen helps most of all during prayer time. Try it.
Thanks for listening to me ramble for a bit. 🙂
Have you followed this blog by email, yet? If not, enter your email address below, so that you won’t miss a post. When I get 40 followers, I am going to start giving away some audiobooks. Enter to follow me, and tell all your reader friends. 🙂 I can’t wait to share. I have 5 books on audible.com, and all of them are narrated by some truly awesome folks.
Hope you’ve had an excellent Labor Day. Drop me a comment below, and remember to keep on smiling; Jesus loves you, after all. 🙂
**All mistakes, such as too many commas are all my fault.**