Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Characterization and Contests

Every contest scoresheet is different. But one element you will almost always see judged is "Characterization."

I think it is the most important element to a story. Because no matter how great the plot....if people don't like your main character, they may not read far enough into the book to see what a plot-genius you are. LOL!

It is difficult to give a character struggles so they're real enough for readers to identify with, yet still keep them likable. Camy touched on that in a recent post. Characters should grow and change by the end of the book. But how much imperfection is too much? It's a hard balance to hit, so let's look at how contests gauge what makes characters great.

Some questions contest scoresheets ask are:

Are the main characters likable?


There are several other words that contest feedback forms use to describe strong characters...feel free to chime in if I hadn't included something you're familiar with.

What you don't want your main protag to be is flat, unlikable, cliche, unsympathetic, illogical and irritating to the point of provoking a book wall-banging, etc. There are a gazillion words for negative characterization traits.

I'm only gonna talk about some positive qualities characters need to have to hook readers. For instance, a character can be very memorable (think Freddie Kruger) but certainly not likable. But that's okay since he was the villain. LOL!

Since this is an interactive blog...I want mega feedback. Look at the bolded words above (by far an incomplete list). What on earth do these things mean? What do they mean TO YOU?

For me, a "memorable" character is one I think about days, weeks, months, even years after reading the book or watching the movie. A character who haunts me in the sense that I connected deeply with them. To the point I felt like they could be a real person. I WANT them to be a real person so I can know them. LOL! Characters who make me wish the world had a real person like them. Think Shindler of Shindler's List.

A character who recently moved me deeply was Ben Randall (played by Kevin Costner) in The Guardian.

The character of Ben was this brave (a "heroic" trait) rescuer, willing to risk his own life to save others ("endearing" and "memorable" traits). He also had this emotional struggle (which "added layers" and deepened him as a character) with his impending divorce and facing the fact that his skills may be slipping (two things that "sympathized" us to him) as a renowned record-breaking Coast Guard swimmer (again, a "heroic, larger than life" trait) and plunging him into possible retirement from a career that has become the bane of his existence.<-- (a trait that makes him seem "real" in the sense of he's this fabulous fantasy hero yet no one can escape the dreaded thing called aging. People (viewers/readers) can "relate" to that and "identify" with this character...especially those in that season of life where their bodies can't keep up with their careers.

Aspiring writers, since each of these terms are slightly different, how would you define them?

Readers...tell me what traits have endeared you to a character lately? Name a book or movie character who has stayed in your mind for years. Why do you think that is? How can we create characters that memorable in our books?

I'd love to hear more than "this character endeared me". What about that character drew and kept you? Or sympathized you to them? Was it the tragedy they suffered in childhood that came out in dialogue? What specifically did the author do to make that character memorable to you? What technique did they use to make you care enough about the fictional person to read the rest of the story?

Authors, we're dying to hear it! :-) What do you do to create strong characters?

This is an interactive blog...so talk away! :-) What you say (even you reader-only-readers) can help us writers strengthen our characters.

Ready, set, talk... :-)

Cheryl Wyatt


  1. I'll go first...LOL! I recently read an article by Susan May Warren about how our characters must have a noble cause. Something good that they fight for that will help the reader fall in love.

    Even if a character is hard to love completely at first, Susan talks about how giving characters a noble cause will be the reedeeming quality to keep readers hooked regardless of character screw-ups in the book.

    Her teaching is awesome. If anyone has the link to her site, please post it as I couldn't find it for this comment. Well worth your time to check her teaching blog out.


  2. I have had a few stand out over the year Hornblower for one of course it helped having Ioan Grufford play him but he started as a lowly officer and moved up the ranks. but he was loyal and courageous, he stood up to some of the bullies and he won the respect of his crew under him, they would have died for him.
    I think if he had just have been an english office in the navy and pompous as many were he wouldn't been so special.

    recently Ginny Smith's book Sincerely Mayla has a charactor Aunt Lousie, she was a secondary charactor but she really touched me. Partly cos I could have been her she looks after her elderly mother the only difference is she has a full time job and I am a full time carer. I cant say alot incase some haven't read it yet but Lousie gave me Hope and I had to write to Ginny to tell her how much I loved the book and Lousie and how she touched me so much.

    The other book that did this was Sister chicks do the Hula by Robin Jones Gunn. I Identified with one of the ladies she was about 40 as i was and it was the way she interacted with the friend she went with. I finished the book and said to mum I need to go to Hawaii to which she said your not going anywhere but I got there last year not for long but I Just had to go and this book has stayed with me for years.

  3. Jenny,I always enjoyed reading about Horatio Hornblower, too. I remember he seemed so real because he had doubts about his abilities and whether he was making the right decisions.

    I have not read a lot of fiction the last few months. But the kids studied the life of Joseph in Genesis in the Bible. He started out sounding a little arrogant (maybe)then his own brothers sold him into slavery. God guided him into becoming a great leader but he was compassionate and forgiving to his family when they were reunited. I thought it was interesting that even in teh Bible the characters had different voices: Jacob sounded old, worn out and grief stricken; Pharaoh sound like he was accustomed to being obeyed without question.

    I hope we got the theme across to the kids -- God used the evil done by Joseph's brothers to later save many lives. Or, God meant it for good.

    I'm going to have some chai tea. Would anyone else lik a cup?


  4. Oh, Cheryl, that is sooo true about the noble cause!!! One of my favorite characters ever is Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, and a less noble heroine you will never see. BUT, she won my heart because of her resilience, persistence and hardcore determination to never quit -- and all for the noble cause of land and heritage -- Tara.

    In my first novel, A Passion Most Pure, the heroine has a sister named Charity that everyone loves to hate (and whom I modeled after Scarlett O'Hara). All the reader saw of her in Book 1 was her hardcore determination to seek both love and revenge. But in her story (Book 2, A Passion Redeemed), you begin to see the layers of what drives her, which eventually reveals a very wounded past. By giving the reader a glimpse of her pain, I believe her quest for love becomes transformed from something that appears shallow and selfish, to something that more closely resembles resilient self-preservation, eventually elevating her search for love to a noble cause. Uh, or at least I hope so! :)

  5. Jenny, (who I will have everyone know is my Aussie-awesomest Cricket buddy) I've never seen the show with the character you and Ann mentioned. And your post makes me want to get to know that character.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The part you said about being able to relate due to taking care of aging parents made me get tears in my eyes. It is amazing how we can feel such a strong connection with a character who is in a similar season or stage in life as we are at present. I know you won't regret the time you're spending with your mum.

    Your readership here at Seekerville is a blessing.



  6. Ann, I will take a cup of that tea. But I'd like boiled milk and sugar in it if you please. :-)

    Be sure and step over to the dessert bar there and grab you gals one of those banana bars...which I will try to remember to post the recipe to here later when my MIL gets home from work.

    Thank you, Ann for being with us here in Seekerville and sharing your thoughts. The story of Joseph has always been one of my favorites.


  7. Julie, I'm SO glad you stopped by because I STILL think of your character Faith from Passion Most Pure and I read the book as soon as it released. She is definitely memorable as is her sister Charity and I cannot WAIT to read Charity's story too!

    And that Collin! How he could be such a hounddog at first yet he was SO intriguing and hunky and how you endeared us to him despite his imperfections at first was AMAZING!!!!! You MUST share your secrets. I LOVED his interaction with the children. That softened him so.

    Is the second book out yet? When does it release? Where can we purchase it for inquiring minds who want to know? LOL!

    And I'm horribly embarrassed to admit that I have NEVER EVER seen or read Gone with the Wind!!!

    I was always an action-flick kind of gal but since I get the feeling it is a mortal sin to be a romance writer without having read that book or seen the GWTW movie...I'd better get to it! LOL!

    Okay...off to get a refill of Ann's WONDERFUL tea!

  8. Cheryl, talk about "intriguing and hunky" ... I am just finishing up A Soldier's Family (in time for the ACFW Bookclub discussion!!) and holy cow, that Manny is one sexy dude!! Gotta tell ya, Cheryl, I love this one even more than the first, and that's saying something, girlfriend.

    My secrets? Just enter a contest and let the judges tell you your heroine is whiney and your hero is a hounddog!! :) That's what happened to me so I knew I had to deepen them, which Donald Maas's Writing the Breakout Novel helped me do. The scene in the beginning where Collin was playing with the kids was not in the original ms. until judges slammed him for being too selfish and self-absorbed (which he is, of course, but layering in a love for kids and the propensity to be a kid himself helped to soften him for readers), along with giving him a mother that he treated with a thin edge of respect despite her disdain for him. This helped to elicit some respect and sympathy for this otherwise one-track-mind bad boy. But I think the thing that won my heart more than anything was Collin's deep and emotional love for his father, and then later in the story, his unashamed affection for Patrick O'Connor, who he saw as the father he lost.

    Book 2, A Passion Redeemed, will be in stores this September but can be pre-ordered on Amazon.com or Christianbooks.com.

    And I forgive you, Cheryl, for never seeing or reading GWTW, but you really must rectify that, my friend.


  9. I always say if you want to make a character likeable, have some other character like them. By doing this, you show WHY the reader would like this character.
    BUT, I have another idea too.
    How about make people like a character by liking them yourself.
    Not who you're planning to make them into, but who they are right now. In other words do YOU see your hero as a an arrogant, unlikeable jerk whom you will redeem and change throughout your story. Instead, you'd better hoep YOU like him, even as he is now.

    Which brings me to my next point.

  10. I have this thing with movies, I think because I'm a writer, I ALWAYS guess what's going to happen next.
    Example? I guessed the ending to The Sixth Sense.

    I always guess who the murderer is. I always see the role sub characters play. A movie that pulls me out of that is usually extremely well done.
    And it's a pain.
    I was watching Twister with my family a while back, a big crowd of us.
    The hero, Bill Paxton, drags his fiance along and she spends most of the moving screaming and thinking the tornado chasers are insane.
    Someone in the room said, "Why did they even have her in it. She doesn't fit and the fact that Bill Paxton is engaged isn't a big enough deal. Lots of other stuff to keep the hero/heroine apart. (That's not how they worded it, but that was the point)
    I said, "Are you kidding? She's the most important character in this book."
    The whole family looks at me like I'm nuts.
    No, seriously, everyone in this movie knows tornadoes inside and out. Everyone knows that invention, Dorothy, inside and out. They'd never talk about either in easily understood language. But having (who was it? Ally Sheedy?) standing there, knowing nothing, asking questions is essential. Because when they explain it all to HER, they explain it all to US.
    So my point...if I can remember it, is secondary characters can do really heavy lifting, while never really exactly being important, by the way they 'like' the main characters or ask questions of the main characters. They're great for backstory explanation, plot development.

  11. This is a great addition to Camy's earlier post, Cheryl. It's like a running tutorial on characterization. Lots to think about. Great stuff!

    A likeable, memorable heroine for me is one who doesn't settle for the norm if she wants more, or something different.

    Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice lives on for me because she defied her era's expectations and fought for what she believed and wanted out of life. Basically, her stubborness, which can be seen as a fault, was turned into an endearing quality because enough information was given to help me understand why Elizabeth was so determined. (She had no intention of ending up in a relationship like her own parents lived.) I knew where her drive and desire came from and thus could accept her fight, attitude and resolve.

    I guess that's what it comes down to for me, help me understand why a character perceives things the way they do, even if it goes against everything I believe in and I'll still route for the character to succeed in their eyes. Well, within reason, of course. I'm talking hero's and heroines here, not villians.

  12. Julie...your description of that Charity's wounded past will be revealed in the next book gave me goosebumps. I'm ordering that book NOW. I LOVE THE COVER!!!

    I'm so glad you liked my hunka-hunka burnin' Manny! LOL! I am SO excited to be discussing the book.

    Thank you for your insight into how you create those great characters! I also love to use the Donald Maas book and especially the workbook.


  13. Mary...I became addicted to boiled milk while I was in India. They couldn't imagine how we drink cold milk in our cereal here in the US!
    In the remote villages we visited all over south and central India, they boiled their milk and cream always before putting it in coffee, tea or cereal. It made the drinks SO thick and creamy. Like having a Latte a world away!


  14. Mary...I do that SAME thing! I figured out the ending to Sixth Sense too. There was another similar movie...Keona Reeves...the Boathouse maybe and I KNEW how it was gonna end. At least I hoped I knew. LOL!

    My problem with characterization is that I love my characters but can't get what I see completely and clearly across to the reader. I guess I must be doing a little better at it. LOL! But in early contest critiques my characters were often not likable and didn't engage the judge. One of my favorite characters, I had three judges tell me he was stuffy and rude. But that's not how I saw him. That's how he acted on the outside but what I knew of him on the inside was NOT coming across to readers. I'm trying to learn how to bridge that chasm between what I see and know and love about the character and what actually comes across on page. To more effectively conquer getting the person I envision across to the reader.

    All of your comments have been interesting and helpful and definitely thought-provoking.

    Thank you!


  15. Mary, using secondary characters to endear readers is brilliant. No wonder Barbour scooped you up and now your stories are selling like a line of Dominoes toppling!

    WOO HOO!

  16. Eileen, thanks for coming by and offering your thoughts. I especially loved your thoughts on creating strong heroines.

    BTW Kelly's ebay auction goes up this week for a first chapter crit by me....with proceeds to help Robin. I just got her e-mail and wanted to let you know. I think it was you who voiced interest. If not..ignore my rambling.



  17. Mary, now I'm going to have to go watch Twister again. AND...another confession...I have never seen P and P either. I know...I know...I should be banished from Seekerville for this.

    Okay who else brought food? The banana bars are almost gone...


  18. Great post Cheryl. You're so right about the characters being an important element. How many times have we heard editors say they want "character driven stories"? Rounding up those contest words really helps one focus on what traits we want in our heroes and heroines.

    Julie-I'm in agreement with Cheryl. Faith and Collin were fun and deep and captured me right away. I can hardly wait to read Charity's story and find out who is going to capture her heart.

    As for a character who has stuck with me. I'm not particularly a Bruce Willis fan, but his character in Tears of the Sun has stuck with me. He was a Navy Seal and went against his moral code to break a direct order from his commanding officer. I won't tell you why in case you haven't seen the film. But according to Donald Maas, that is something that really deepens a character. For them to go against their values or moral codes to do something heroic.

  19. Great post, Cheryl.
    I like a hero who's vulnerable. I want to know what he's thinking and to hear the hurt and anguish in his voice. One character who did that for me was Susan May Warren's hero, Viktor, in In Sheep's Clothing. Wow, I loved him. He was also strong and gorgeous and I could hear his sexy Russian accent. He was also very sympathetic to the heroine and loved her almost at first sight. I liked the way SMW pulled that off. One of my favorite books.

  20. I AM a Bruce Willis fan and have never even heard of tears of the Sun. I'll have to hunt it up.

    I didn't get...I think it was Lake House, Summer house? so you beat me on that one, Cheryl.

    But I do remember thinking, oh thank heavens, this movie actually has a point.

  21. I'm working on a book right now and needing to *here is the first north american use of a word, I believe* three-dimensionalize my villain.
    I tend to just make the bad guys pure unadulterated evil. Which is far less interesting than giving them their own motivation. I need to fix that.

  22. Sandra, I have not seen that Bruce Willis movie but I'm gonna rent it this week. I LOVE Spec Forces stories!!! Thanks for mentioning it. I will now keep your comments in mind as I watch the flick with my hubby.

    And I have to tell you the kids LOVE your childrens' books! I donated copies to the school and the church and have them for my own children too.

    They have been asking lots of great questions because of your book and I'm SO glad you write stories about Jesus for children. You truly have a gift and as a parent who wants her charges to grow up knowing Him...I'm exceedingly thankful you've written these books and dearly hope you never stop.

    Melanie, thanks for supporting Seekerville with your readership and insight! Did I hear good news about you regarding FHL's Touched by Love...hmmmm? DO TELL!

    I have that very book by SMW winking at my in my TBR pile and now I really can't wait to dive in.



  23. You girls are going to love Tears In the Sun. It has a strong Christian element but be warned there is violence also. It takes place in war torn Africa. My heart is still aching.

    Thanks for the comments about my books Cheryl. We are getting so much positive feedback from parents and teachers about how the children are really loving the books. Thanks of course goes to the Holy Spirit. smile

  24. I believe there was a Pamela Meyers on the list, too. Yes, I finaled in the TBL contest.

  25. Oh, yes, Cheryl, In Sheep's Clothing is a must read. And Pride and Prejudice is only the greatest book ever written, and the BBC miniseries with Colin Firth is the absolute BEST thing ever created for public consumption.

    GWTW is pretty good, too.

  26. Love this topic Cheryl! I think writers can talk about characters for hours. Besides books and movies, I think you can learn a lot about memorable characters from television shows -- especially those that were long running. How can you not like Matt Dillion or Miss Kitty?

    More recently, I've loved Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh on "Crossing Jordan". Gritty, determined, willing to break the rules and haunted by her mother's death. I rooted for her every week.

    I figure when you can get millions of viewers to tune into something week after week, there has to be something worth disecting in the characters. After all, they are inviting them into their living rooms.

  27. Lorna, I LOVED Matt Dillon in The Outsiders...remember the movie way back 30 or so years ago? Eeesh I'm showing my age.

    I always get his name mixed up with Matt Damon-who I just love! Especially in the Bourne movies.

    Thanks for hanging with us in Seekerville!

    Melody...CONGRATS! Pam too...wait...is she even here? Where the heck is she? Who else finaled?

    Hope you will be able to attend the RWA/FHL banquet for sure now!

    I remember sitting next to Debby Guisti the year she won. Next thing we knew she SOLD! MIA is GREAT so far. I LOVE that title.

    Okay lurkers...come out...come out wherever you are! :-)


  28. For me, "Twister" was so scary that in the first few minutes I sat with a box of Milk Duds (chocolate covered carmels) on my lap -- box opne, candy untouched.

    That is so not me.

    But, DH lived through the Palm Sunday tornado here in 1965 and I vividly remember the April 3, 1974 tornadoes back home, where Xenia, Ohio, disappeared from the map. So I have a horrible fascination for tornadoes.

    Interesting about the whiny fiancee in that movie.

    Learning a lot here.

  29. Y'all have mentioned some great movies and books! P&P is a biggie for me as well.

    And honestly, I still haven't figured out what it is about characters that makes me remember them and wish they were real. But I've found that often a particular author does that for me in more than one book. I've even tried studying said authors but can't figure it out! LOL

    One of my favs is Deb Smith. Two that have really stuck with me are A Place to Call Home and Crossroads Cafe (which is a Rita finalist this year, I believe). (Note--they're not inspirational fiction so have some lanugage and love scenes.) I need to try studying them again to see if I can figure out how she does it.

    Jenny Crusie's characters always stay with me. And another is Susan Wiggs (one of her historicals, Halfway to Heaven, is a standout).

    Someone on here mentioned recently what Hauge and Vogler say in The Heros Two Journeys. The character needs to be sympathetic (a victim), have a power, be funny, or... there's one more but I'm blank! I really like using these 4 things. The book that just sold has a beta hero who's a brilliant physicist who's a former geek. His brilliance is his power (plus he has a presigious job). He's also sympathetic in that he keeps bumbling around whenever he gets around the heroine (goes back into full geek mode even though he's a total hunk now). I hope it makes him memorable!


  30. Meant to say congrats, Melanie!!

    Also, I'm amazed that you figured out 6th Sense, Mary. That's one of the few that I didn't figure out. It blew me away.

    I did get Lakehouse, but I think because someone had hinted at it.


  31. I hear there's a big twist in the new Indiana Jones movie and that's why they've kept it under wraps.

    I've already figured it out too. :)


    YAY MELANIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Yay to all the FHL Finalist.

  32. Are the main characters likable?

    Are you kidding? I’ve always been totally confused (as an entrant and as a judge) what some of these terms mean. But I’ll give it a shot…

    Indentifiable: Yep, that’s my brother-in-law.
    Sympathetic: The poor thing.
    Endearing: Ah, she’s so sweet. Bless her little ol’ heart.
    Strong: Oooohhh…Samson.
    Multi-layered: Whew, must be cold out!
    Three-dimensional: A little on the heavy side huh?


    I’m just kidding, sorta.

    Sorry…Gotta run. Cousin's son graduating tonight. Great post, Cheryl, and if I had time I could seriously think about some of those terms! How about Angel/Sara in Redeeming Love? She’s very memorable, and three-dimensional. And Clay in Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath. A fav of mine.

  33. Cheryl we have something esle in common I have never read or seen all of Gone With the wind.
    Mum put me off it when she said when it first came out she went to see it and was ready to leave at half time thinking it had ended infact she did leave. It kinda put me off it when she thought it wasn't very good.

    Congrats to Melanie also.

    One series that I love is the California's by Lori Wick.
    the main hero Marshall (and yes i wanted to name a child after him!) really reached me. He was single around my age and wanting to find a wife. (ok i wasn't wanting a wife but i did want to be married)
    Alot of his doubts and fears were mine. In fact he could have been me if he was a she. I loved him cos i identified so much. I also loved his brother who was a part player, gilbert he wasn't in the book alot but he was also inspirational to me. Hes part of the reason Gilbert is still my favourite boys name.

    I admit a book i tried to read recently I just couldn't identify with the lead players. It just confused me and I decided it wasn't a book i would enjoy. I put it aside. it may be in years to come i will but I just thought I have other books i want to read more and after a chapter I just dont get it. I haven't had a lot i couldn't conect with and Other people love this book. I think it has to do with were we are at times.

  34. Jenny, I agree. I think it depends on where you are in life. At one time I loved reading chick-lit. Then I got to a point (I have no idea why) that I couldn't get into it.

    Strange but true. :)

    Missy--who's celebrating because we just found out my son got another scholarship!!

  35. Is that a picture of Kevin Costner? Is he coming by?

  36. JENNY!!!!!!!

    That is so weird that you said your mom left at half-time!

    I saw it the first time in a theatre and all my scad of little brothers and sisters saw it to. (remember when it kept going around to theatres for YEARS. This was mid-sixties and it was still showing.)

    My little sister went outside, along with everyone else at half-time. Yes, they had intermissions. Except she thought it was over. Pretty soon the crowd thinned and, she wasn't really paying attention and noticing people were going back inside and she just stayed out there, thinking it was time to go home, then she thought we'd left her, she was pretty young and my older sister was driving, so she panics and starts crying and walks to ... somewhere, the grocery store maybe...and calls home and tells Mom we left her, so mom came and got her, all mad at us BIG KIDS and we didn't even know what had happened to her for a long time because we were all back inside the movie theatre. My little sister Linda was really traumatized by being left in town.

    Whatever half-time of that movie was, it must have seemed like
    --Enough Already-- to quite a few people. :)

  37. Great post, Cheryl! And fun discussion on characterization.

    I'm a GWTW fan like Julie. Margaret Mitchell walked a fine line creating Scarlet and did an amazing job. She was spoiled. To make her more likeable, MM gave Scarlet three remarkable, almost saintly women who loved and saw the good in her--her mother, Mammy, and Melanie. And two heroes, who messed with her head. Rhett, who flaunted convention and egged Scarlet on. And dreamer Ashley, who admired her spunk and couldn't break the tie to Scarlet even when married to Melanie. Maybe because of the weight of her burdens and her love of the land, all that she had left of her former life, I continued to care about her, even as she hardened. I see all of MM's characters as unforgettable because they stir reader emotions. Perfect people don't do that.

    I'm off my soap box. Melanie, congratulations on the final in TBL!

  38. Cheryl, I love the idea of a noble cause thrusting characters out of their comfort zone. Bravo to you, and I'm in full agreement with all who've read A Soldier's Family. Your characterization and plot were wonderfully done. And Manny was a completely wonderful hero from the get-go.

    Great job, my friend.

    And I loved Giusti's MIA...

    Strong subject matter and good suspense line. Deb did a nice, nice job of putting together a well-orchestrated story.

    I love well-drawn characters, and I'm a sucker (like Missy) for Deb Smith's work because her heroines have to struggle to overcome whatever God and life have thrown their way. Deb does it in a way that weaves the arch of the story around the characters, leaving no holes. Great story teller.

    Cheryl, I brought some late night ice creams from the local ice cream shop. There's a turtle ice cream pie and a layer cake with a Special Forces insignia on the top in honor of your fine work.

    Dig in, girls, and let's party tonight!


  39. I think the reason I liked Scarlett so much was that she really did feel bad about the things she did. She knew her mother would be disappointed in some of the things she was doing, and she felt real remorse, but she couldn't seem to stop herself. She didn't know how to get what she wanted the nice way. She was incredibly focused on her goals and she went after them tooth and nail. She was fun to root for.

  40. Oh, Janet and Melanie, I so totally agree about Scarlett -- she was so "fun to root for."

    And, Melanie, SUPER CONGRATS on the final. No surprise there. :)


  41. Mary, I feel for your sister. yes it was intermission thats it.
    when mum found out it was only the first part she left anyway. I did see part when they had it on tv but they did it in parts and I was going away the next day so missed the second part. One day i will hire it! One day.

    Missy congrats to your son for getting a scholarship

  42. Thanks, Jenny! He's really excited.

    Ruthy, how are you feeling??


  43. I just read MY SISTER'S KEEPER, by Jodi Picolt, and was blown away. Each character was perfectly formed, unique and compelling. I'm off to get another Picolt read. She's a fantastic writer, and hopefully I'll improve my craft by studying her work.

  44. I guess I like Scarlett because of Rhett's line about (paraphrasing) "If only you were the girl you were before war and poverty changed you."

    The truth was, everyone turned to her to take care of them. EVERYONE.
    She had to dig so deep to find the strength to, "Never be hungry again, no, nor any of my kin."
    That all fell to her.
    And it twisted her into a ruthless parody of that spoiled girl who came to think she could have anything, including her best friend's husband.
    And being denied HIM became another barrier she had to breach.

    But to me, the true greatness, the enduring-ness of Gone with the Wind was that it used their archetypal characters to tell the massive, sweeping saga of the Civil War as well as anyone's ever told it.

  45. Thanks all for your awesome thoughts on memorable characters. There are several authors that I've never read who I'm going to try out thanks to your feedback on this post.

    Also...just want to clarify what Susan May Warren is actually the person who talked about/created the Noble Cause thing. In fact, I'd never heard of the concept until a couple of days ago when Sandra van den Bogerd explained it to me in an e-mail.

    Sanda mentioned she'd read about Noble Cause on Susan May Warren's Book Therapy Blog. Here is a link to that (FABULOUS!!!) blog. http://www.mybooktherapy.com/

    Just want to be sure no one is giving me credit for the Noble Cause ideal! I'm not the one who thought of it but wish I was.
    I'm definitely incorporating Susan's teachings into my books.



  46. Ann...I'd be afraid of watching Twister too if I knew someone who had been through a tornado that leveled an entire town. Goodness. How devastating.

    One of my early ms (my first ever contest winner in fact) called Code Yellow dealt with a tornado heading toward a hospital in the opening scene. I based it on a similar situation I'd gone through as a nurse in the OR of OB when a tornado touched down and headed our way. Very frightening as we were in the middle of an emergency C-section and the sirens are blaring with this tornado four miles away. It bumped back into the air though, THANK GOD!

    Missy, I've heard great things about Hauge's teachings. Our local writers group went through a Vogler book/teaching together. Congrats on your son's scholarship! Not surprising since you are his mom! :-)

    Tina...if Kevin Costner is coming to this blog...I will be the first in line to leap into a lake and pretend to be drowning just so he can rescue me and carry me to shore. Although I'd have to have a talk with him about why he ALWAYS plays roles in movies that don't have a HEA!!! Message in a Bottle irked and haunted me because of how it ended. LOL!



  47. Lakehouse was that movie! Not boathouse. Sheesh. LOL!

    Mary, dh wants to see the new Indiana Jones movie.

    Ruthy...thank you for your kind words about my characters! That's a high compliment coming from someone who saw the horrid state my mss were in just a few years ago. LOL! Hey...wait..what R U doing out of bed? Get back under those covers and let me bring you some home made chicken soup.

    Pam...ROFL. I know just what you mean. Why do you think I'm asking our brilliant blog readers to help me figure out the definitions of all those character-describing terms. LOL! And LOL especially about being confused about it as a judge. ROFL! That struck me really funny for some reason.

    Jenny..that would be aweful to be left in that huge a crowd. I'd have fainted had I been the mother. EEEK.

    Janet and Debby! How goes it?

    Thanks for dropping by and offering insight everyone! Hope I haven't missed welcoming anyone.



  48. MIL is in bed but I will try to remember to post the banana bar recipe tomorrow or the next day.

    Okay...I have MORE than half the posts on here I think...

    I'd better scat before Blogger kicks me off for being a nuisance or something. LOL!


  49. A friend at work brought the best banana (okay I think it was banana) nut muffins to work the other day. She didn't have pecans and used ALMONDS instead. They were yummy!

    Talking of memorable/fill-in-the-blank characters.

    Memorable characters really are multi-dimensional as much as I made fun of the term yesterday. They're not just cardboard characters. We get to know almost everything about them and what makes them the way they are.

    And they act/react consistently, and when they don't, the author gives the reader sound reasons.

    Oh, and another thing. Jenny mentioned characters that spoke to her because they're in situations and/or they're wants, needs, and desires mirrored her own...a truly memorable character relates like that to a LOT of people, propelling a book to the forefront of the public.

    Gone With the Wind was first published in 1936 (according to my quick google search).

    Quiz: what worldwide event was in full swing by 1936?

  50. Worldwide event....1936....uh...

    The Depression?
    The World Fair?

    Uh...do I get a cookie for this if I win? LOL!


  51. lol - All of the above Cheryl. (Hop over to today's topic for goodies. I'm sure SOMEBODY brought something!)

    Actually, I was thinking of the depression, but then WWI would have still been fresh, and WWII was looming, so you're right on all counts.

    I thought of the connection between the success of GWTW and The Great Depression THEN I googled the two together. I had something like 14,000 hits!

    So a book(with strong characters) set in a different time period that evokes emotions dealing with current events could very well turn out to be a keeper.

  52. Late... but I just got the FeedBlitz about this today...so I missed most of it.
    However, better late than never.
    I hope.

    Just wanted to add about characterizations, that I think that was one thing that kept my chopped-up, 60K word version of my 94K novel from selling. The editor thought the characters were too immature, conversationally, etc. *sigh* Live and learn. That book will eventually be rewritten, because of the theme, but in the meantime, I'm doing everything I can to make my characters as real as possible.

    And your characters are very real, Cheryl. Congrats! ;-)

  53. Thank you, Hope! My characters were NOT this strong when first started submitting. And I've had rejection since over a character the ed couldn't bring herself to love. LOL! So it's a learning curve for sure.

    Hugs and God's best to you in your writing. Glad you stopped by. Better late than never is what I say! Wait..no, someone else said it first. LOL! But it still holds true. :-)

    I hope you will read Debby's post from today. She is an amazing person and wise in the industry.



  54. Dan, from 3:10 to Yuma. And Ben Wade, Ben Wade, Ben Wade.
    What a way to get me to like the villain!