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Friday, September 24, 2010

These are the Shoes of...

Heroes. Is your protagonist a hero? Or is he/she an ordinary person like me and you? Either way, you need to make him or her stand out and grab the reader's attention. How do you do that? Well, right off the bat, give the reader a reason to care about the character. If your protagonist is a hero, make sure he/she has some faults that the reader can relate to. If your protagonist is ordinary, make sure he/she has some strengths that the reader aspires to have. Villains. Creepy, huh? Is your antagonist a villain? If so, is he creepy enough? Try giving him or her some decent human qualities that the reader can sympathize with. Then, when your antagonist is bad, he or she will be that much scarier. Secondary characters. Do they matter? Well, they better! Why else would you include them? You can make these secondary characters stand out by showing how they affect your main character. This is what makes them important to the story. Okay, so, these are my Thursday Thoughts (yeah, I know it's Friday) on Writing Compelling Characters. Now, I'm off to read all the other posts on this topic. If you want to join me, you can click here. We are all sure to learn something. Have a great weekend!

41 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

You tend not to know who my antagonists are until the end. It adds to the suspense. They come off as normal, likeable characters. Everyone who's read my wip loved how it ended because they didn't see it coming. They never guess he was the bad guy.

Erica M. Chapman said...

Great post! I agree making them have faults and weaknesses always makes me connect with them more! Thanks for sharing ;o) Have a great weekend!

K. M. Walton said...

I've actually been tasked to beef up the motivation of my bad guy in my MG book. In other words...they can't just be bad for the sake being bad.

It has been a challenge for me but I did it!!

Carolyn V. said...

Great examples Susan! I have a hard time adding in those secondary characters. Sometimes they aren't as exciting as my mc, but they need to have some oomph to them. =)

lotusgirl said...

I need to make my bad guy more human. I think he's a bit too cartoony.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Good points on all the characters (hero, antagonist and secondary). Though, I must say, those are some CREEPY shoes in the second pic.

Stephanie Faris said...

Yes, they matter...I think it's important for the characters to have someone to bounce things off of. Friends, family, etc. Otherwise all we have are the two main characters and their thoughts.

Patti said...

Sometimes I have more fun writing the secondary characters. Great advice. Especially liked: giving the villain some decent human qualities that the reader can sympathize with. Then, when your antagonist is bad, he or she will be that much scarier

paulgreci said...

Great points, Susan. And those villian shoes are creepy but captivating :-0

Lola Sharp said...

Okay...those creeptastic feet shoes will be giving me nightmares! *SHUDDER* I don't know why those things freak me out so much....but you didn't need even mention antagonist for this post. Those shoes will haunt me forever. (they're like evil clown shoes) *twitch*

Okay, off to cry and shake.

Happy weekend!
Lola

Faith said...

So very true about antagonists... if they're just pure evil, we're right writing a fantasy novel (haha) or something purely unrealistic. Unless, of course, we present a good reason for it...

All told, people are just pretty darn complex and we need to show it in every character we create!

Whee, this blogest is fun...! *runs off to read more* :)

Heather Sunseri said...

Great thoughts, Susan!

Tere Kirkland said...

Give the reader a reason to care is a good one to remember. I have a trunked ms where the mc is kind of selfish and self-absorbed, even after I added a few "Save the cat" moments to make her more likable. Which is why it's trunked. ;)

Great post!

~Tere

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I've read before if there isn't a reason for a secondary character to be in the novel...take them out! Drastic, but makes perfect sense.
~ Wendy

Elana Johnson said...

I love how you address the ordinary character. Sometimes I think we only talk about our characters being heroes, but that's so not true.

Danyelle said...

Awesome! You're absolutely right--we need to be able to empathize with both the villain and the hero. And yes! to non-cardboard, interesting secondary characters!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I agree with Elana (she stole my comment). LOL.

Those villain shoes are super creepy - love them! :-) Have a great weekend.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I like the way you illustrated your points with shoes! And it's a good reminder to make the villain and the secondary characters compelling as well.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I'm still freaking out over the feet shoes...ick...makes me wonder about the mind that came up with that photo??? Must have been quite a character. :)

Tamika: said...

Those shoes are beyond creepy~ I will never forget them! Now I need to do that with my characters:)

Laura Pauling said...

You're the first one to cover secondary characters! And where in the world did you find those creepy villain feet shoes!

Robyn Campbell said...

EWWWW, there's THOSE creepy feet shoes again. UGH Hmm, there is a horror story wrapped around those shoes. :)

Love the secondary characters post, Susan. They and the bad guys all have to have their own story within the story. Super post. :)

BTW, have you read, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? If not, DON'T.

Melissa said...

Wow... those villain shoes are beyond creepy.... it's probably why I love them so much because those shoes? Dude... they are going to stick with me for a long time.

T. Anne said...

First, let me say your use of shoes in every post is a work of genius. I love the villain shoes! They'll probably haunt me in my dreams but so worth a second look.

Tabitha Bird said...

I agree with T.Anne. How DO you find those photos? And love the tips. Thanks for sharing.

Christine Fonseca said...

DUDE! Those "feet" shoes are creeping me out...BIG TIME!

Hannah Kincade said...

I hope I do a successful job at creating villains and compelling characters but we will only know with time and great CPs and beta readers.

N. R. Williams said...

I love the barefoot shoes.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

RaShelle said...

Yeah, those barefoot shoes are WEIRD!! Great into though. I especially like that we need to remember to give the MC something to aspire to.
Thanks!

Leah Rubin said...

Yes, creepy but relevant! This is great stuff... again! Thanks for the prodding!

Elena Solodow said...

I like that you covered both ordinary and extraordinary main characters. It's so true that the extraordinary must have flaw and the ordinary must have some strengths in order for the reader to relate. Nice post!

Lisa Potts said...

It is important to give those secondary characters a lot of consideration. Great post!

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Nicole Zoltack said...

I love that you mentioned secondary characters. They have to be as fully formed as the MCs even though they have less screen time. Great post.

Jackee said...

Great thoughts! There were some wonderful contributions this time, but I've think you've captured the essence here, Susan! :o)

Terri Tiffany said...

Those shoes with the toes are awful!! But work for what you need:) In my recent MS I tried hard to make my antagonist a bad guy with some good redeeming characteristics--like how he acted with his mother. I hope it was enough.

Lynn said...

Those second shoes are creepy!! Someone had fun though, creating those. Making the villian likeable can be fun too, but it isn't always easy! All great points. Thanks!

Victoria said...

"give the reader a reason to care about the character"

Such great advice for me! I really needed that for something that I'm working on. thanks!

Dominique said...

Nice.
I think, as a result of this post, I will always associate secondary characters with practical flip flops. :)

Jen Chandler said...

I love this post! I love your blog! I love how you take important points and tie them all in with shoes.

The point about secondary characters really stuck with me. How they need to affect the main character.

Great post! I'm glad I found my way here!
Cheers,
Jen

Ishta Mercurio said...

Great post! And great blog - I love the "shoes" theme you've got going on.

Nice points about needing to make the hero have a flaw, and the villain have something likable about him or her. I especially like the point that an ordinary hero should have a strength that the reader can aspire to.