Thursday, June 5, 2014

An Insight On What Scott Likes In Stories - Characters

For me, when it comes to a great story, two elements need to be rock solid - the characters and the plot. I want to talk about character today and tomorrow we will focus on the element of plot. Now, when I use the term "rock solid" I am referring to the idea the author has taken care of every little twist and turn about that character. There is nothing I feel I am missing with understanding who the character is.

I personally believe that writers today are trying so hard to find that totally unique plot line that the characters they place in the book have really all become secondary characters and plot devices. In other words, we keep the characters around so that the author can tell the story. The result of this approach is that the characters become very two dimensional, cliche and stereotypical. That feeling of satisfaction is just not there.

When I pick up a book, or read a submission, I want to really be drawn into the lives of the characters. I want to form a bond with this person to make me want to know more of their story. This simply cannot be forced through ho-hum narrative or external description. We need to see it in everything the character does and says.

Here are several examples from Greyhaus authors:

  • Helen Lacey - This is my amazing special edition author. In DATE WITH DESTINY we are so drawn into Grace and Cameron's story. They each loved each other in the past but for different reasons, that relationship was completely severed. Now they are back together. What is great here is seeing how both of them have their own personal walls they have to break down just to allow the other person into their lives. This is very real and something almost everyone in the world will have to deal with at some time in his or her life.
  • Jean Love-Cush - You have heard me screaming about this book a lot lately. ENDANGERED, which is coming out July 1 throws the reader into the life of Jenae as she has to watch the racism of the criminal justice system deal with her son who is accused of murder. I have to say, with this one, we are drawn in wondering "What would I do in a situation like this." Her realism makes us each question who we are as individuals.
  • Bronwyn Scott - With Bronwyn and her characters, you get to see people that I do believe we could all be more like. She isn't afraid to let those characters be a little more daring and say things that we might all be thinking but too afraid to say it out-loud. I think the other thing that stands out for me with her characters, such as Channing and Alina in LONDON'S MOST WANTED RAKE is her ability to keep that sexual tension amazingly high through the book. She can push the characters right up to the brink and then pull them away, making you as a reader only want to see them together again.
  • Ann Lethbridge - One of my other amazing historical authors brings in the emotional internal side of very three-dimensional characters. In RETURN OF THE PRODIGAL GILVRY, Andrew and Rowena give readers a chance to be immersed into the internal lives of the characters lives. With her stories, you are constantly wondering how each will somehow work through their own internal struggles that aren't as easy to solve as we might think on first glance. Ann has the ability to make the reader think, "Oh, that solution is easy." And then, on second glance think, "This solution might not be that easy."
When it comes down to it, I am looking for those characters that are real. No, this does not mean non-fiction. I am simply talking about characters who are very three-dimensional and could very much live in a world of today (or in history if it is of a different time period). I want characters who do belong together but don't see it yet. I want characters who are not manufactured just to tell a story and are certainly not stereotypical. And most importantly, I want those characters saying things and doing things he or she would really do.

Remember - characters are not plot devices!

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