You know that saying, right? “It’s not where you go, it’s who you’re with.” Anybody who’s gone on a vacation or a trip anywhere for any length of time knows how true that is. Think about it.
Picture this: you go on a week long vacation to see the Grand Canyon*–which would be really cool, by the way–and the group you’re with is quiet, has no personality, and doesn’t want to do anything fun. So the entire time you’re there, seeing amazing canyons and having the opportunity to do a lot of interesting things, you’re bored. And bored is something you shouldn’t be while on vacation.
Now imagine this: you and a group of friends decide to drive a couple hours away, just to visit some cute little ice cream shop. The friends you go with are exuberant and full of personality. So even though it’s only a short drive and a short visit, it’s a lot of fun. Your friends are constantly cracking jokes and everyone has a great time because of it.
So, you get what I’m saying? It’s who you’re with, not where you go.
What I’m getting at is that the same thing applies to the characters that we write. Sometimes I get my hands on a book that’s absolutely incredible, and generally, it’s not just because there’s a good plot and the author has description that sucks me right in. No, the biggest thing I notice in a book is the characters. If they don’t seem realistic and fun, I can’t get into the book. It doesn’t matter if they’re doing something crazy and exciting every single chapter, I won’t read it. Of course, plot and setting are important, too. But right now, we’re discussing the importance of good characterization.
As writers, we have to try our hardest to develop characters that are like real people. Flat characters won’t get our books anywhere. And I’m not saying I’m an expert on this or anything, because I’m definitely not. I’m in high school, I’m not published, and I’ve never even finished an entire novel. But I know a good book when I read one, and as I said, it’s the characters that make it great.
No matter how intriguing and unique a plot is, if the characters are flat, the reader will shut the book and walk away. Plot isn’t enough to grab a reader’s attention.
Anyway, I’ll let you get on with your lives. More to come on characters later.
*I didn’t take that picture.
Currently Listening To:
A Day Late, Anberlin