What A Character

What a character! When using this phrase, we know what that means to us. Character is an umbrella for the temperament, morality, personality, and so much more of an individual. These are the tools writers use to craft a story.

In a murder mystery, believable characters are essential to move the plot. Every possible plot has already been written. Intrigue and suspense depend on the reader identifying with believable heroes, villains, and supporting cast. We painstakingly craft the many facets of each person we introduce to our story.

How does an author develop believable characters?

Do not make the person perfect, introduce flaws, weaknesses, and imperfections. Each potential suspect has a secret to hide, contributing to the suspense. Characters must demonstrate a personality through their actions and in their dialogue. The protagonist can even be disliked by the reader, as long as the reader cares about them and their success.

A well-developed character will lead the writer through each scene. Several times I froze when writing Dead Air, stuck in a scene not knowing where to go. I was trying to think for Beck, determine his next step. When I allowed Beck to do the thinking, the story moved on. I had to let him solve the crime in his own way.

Pay attention to your characters and readers will be saying “What a character.”

Taking Second Base

Writing is hard! We struggle over the keyboard searching for the right words, the perfect combinations, coherent sentences. When the story is finished, we realize it’s not perfect. There is editing and revisions to slog through. Once it is completed what happens next.

All too often the beginning writer closes the file allowing it to drift in cyber obscurity. Maybe they take the time to show it to a friend or a significant other. Certainly not another writer, agent, or publisher. The author is not willing to take the risk, whether it be criticism or accolades. The fear of taking a risk stifles far too many potentially good writers.

I took a break the other day to watch the movie Moneyball, starring Brad Pitt. It was about Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A’s baseball team. He defied conventional baseball theories and built a team based on statistical analysis rather than traditional baseball wisdom. The A’s made the playoffs that year, only to lose in the first round.

Beane was despondent afterwards. The character played by Jonah Hill showed him a video of Jeremy Brown, a 240-pound minor league catcher who was afraid to run to second base. Jeremy hit a fastball to deep center, this time determined to make it to second. His head down, running as fast as he could, he rounded first, tripped and fell. You could see the old fears in his face as he scrambled and crawled back to first base. The crowd was laughing because Jeremy did not realize he had hit the ball sixty feet over the centerfield wall for a home run.

Jeremy beat his fears and took the risk. In baseball if you succeed thirty percent of the time, you’re in the Hall of Fame.  As writer, our success rate may not be that high. If you fail to take the chance, there will be a zero-success rate.

As a writer I’ll always try to take second base.