Friday, January 28, 2011

Your Best Character

For today, I'll cover one of my favorite subjects when it comes to writing: characters. I love building characters. And, as my critters can tell you, I'm in love with my characters most of the time. I tend to know every little detail about them - from their worst memory to their favorite color or food. Not that I introduce those in the story unless they're plot relevant.

But, even with my general mastery in creating people (insert your ironic remark about my modesty here), I believe each one of us has a character that they do best. A character which oozes perfection. And not because the person itself is perfect (that would be totally unrealistic, therefore wrong), but because they are so well done, they feel real. I happen to have such a character. And, incidentally, she's not a MC - she is one of the important characters, but not the POV MC of the book. She's not even the character who's most like me. She's not even the person I'd like to be in real life.
She's just... Jessie.

A little info about who Jessie is (for the people who did not read and crit my first novel, Ruby): Jessie's and 18-year-old girl from California. She's been recruited by a secret agency to help retrieve a giant Ruby (just like everyone else in the story). She doesn't get along with her parents who treat her as if she's not there and arranged for her to get married to some thirty-something business man. So, she's looking for something to keep her away from home as much as possible. She finds Jimmy (one of the MCs) and falls in love with him.
I made Jessie a feisty, funny, smart and extremely loyal girl. She puts everyone before herself, is not helpless in a fight and has a bit of a wicked mouth.
Throughout the story she kicks butt, figures out difficult riddles, saves her love interest's hide a few times, makes friends with the rest of the group and runs away from home.
I have to admit that I spent most of my time developing her in the first volume of my wonderful series (kidding on the wonderful part). Here's some of Jessie (excerpts from Ruby):

Jessie and relationships:  
She looked away, hoping she wasn’t blushing, though the heat in her face implied otherwise. God, woman, he’s just looking at you. Get a grip! But her body refused. Instead, she tripped over her own feet and plummeted towards the ground. 

Jessie and friendship: 
 “Look, just be patient,” Jessie said “I know no one's seen her today, but she could still be around. If she’s not here tomorrow, then we can panic and go look for her.”
 “I’m panicking now," Kyle mumbled. "Can I go look for her?” 
 “I could come with you and look.” Jessie put her hand on his shoulder.
 “No, Jess. You’re right. If you really want to do me a favor, kill Alice.” 
Jessie stood, laughing. “You have no idea how appealing that sounds."

Jessie and combat: 
 Jessica rushed passed Sam and punched Eye Patch in the face so hard, he fell off his feet. “You scumbag! Where’s Harry?”
Two of Eye Patch’s men grabbed her. She broke free from one of them and punched him in the face as well. 

Jessie and logic:
She took out a piece of paper. “Traps seen before past two, twice met fourteen, eight, then be safely on your way. I see you’ve taken the numbers to be the distances between the traps, probably measured in rock slabs. I agree with you. What I disagree on, is your interpretation. You said,” she took out another piece of paper, “that the trap repeats itself – this trapdoor thing – get passed it and we’re set. I think there’s two of them. Past two – the last trap is two traps ago. And the next two are eight whatevers apart. So there’s an extra trapdoor – a total of three.”

And here's what some of my wonderful critters had to say about her:

Critter 1: I like her attitude. She's sassy!! Her hot personality is a good match with her orange hair! 
Critter 2: She's got guts. Like it.
Critter 3: If all these characters were real, I'd want Jessie for a best friend.

Also, at the end of my last chapter, I asked everyone who their favorite character was. Five people out of the six who answered my questions listed Jessie as their favorite character or female character. Which meant I did something right. I'm still not sure what. If I manage to find out, I'll bottle it and sell it.

I honestly have no idea what happened and how she came out like that. She just did. And the funny thing is, she wasn't even in the original cast. (Yes, in case you're wondering, you few people who read my stuff, Jimmy was supposed to end up with horrible Alice). I just put her in as an experiment, and not only did she steal Jimmy away from Alice (I had nothing to do with that, honestly), but she turned into everyone's best friend.
And another reason she's kinda a weird - I usually write guy POVs, but I had so much fun with her, I couldn't help building her up.

So, what is your best character? Was he/she planned or accidental? Dare to show off! I've turned my modesty regulator right off. Share your success story!


  1. Just a quick note from me. I don't know how great any of my characters are (yet). I plan on expanding on the little things, details, quirks, etc. on draft two.

    I think the best compliment I get from critters is when they tell me "I don't believe this part. He wouldn't do that."

    That tells me that I have successfully given that character enough depth that readers feel that they know him (or her), and know them well enough to call me out when thy think I am being inconsistent.

    That, to me, is my success.

  2. I have to agree with Joe on that one. It's nice to see comments that let you know that your readers "get" your character. I love it when Joe screams at mine for doing such stupid things, then he says "I shouldn't be surprised." :)

    I think I like all my characters so far, but I have to say that Jayden has grown on me. He's so gosh-darn good looking, that he's never had to look for a date, but deep inside, he longs for that "one". I make it so hard for him to get there, but once he finds her, he'll be willing to sacrifice everything and change his ways...maybe. :)

  3. Oh, yes. I completely agree that it's awesome when a critter points stuff out of character out. It means you did a good enough job and that people "know" your character. And care enough about his to point that out.

    @Mysti: Wow, Jayden sounds dreamy. I'll have to read more about him soon - as soon as I get this darn exams over with *grumpy face*


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