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Literary Conversations

The Importance of Character

by Erica German

Think about your favorite story and you will probably find you are actually thinking about a character that stood out to you.  I recently saw, while watching television, a trailer for a new movie in which the lead female character caught my attention, reminding me of another character from a book I had read many years ago.  As the trailer came to a close, a key scene from the book I had read was shown and I immediately knew that they had decided to make a film out of the story, One For The Money, by Janet Evanovich.  I felt giddy to have seen the character I had enjoyed from the written story now brought to life on the big screen.

Later that day and through most of the next, I searched my memories for bits of the story I had held on to.  Except for the generic gun scenes, the car blowing up scene, and the fact that New Jersey was the setting for the story, I found that much of what I could remember was how I loved the main character, Stephanie Plum. She had been spunky and girly, all at the same time.  She wanted to be tough, never admitting when she failed, and always found herself in over her head.  The story’s charm was not as much about what was happening to her, but rather it was about her responses to the catastrophes the author constantly sent her way.

It has been at least three years since I read One For The Money.  After all that time has passed, I still remember the characters above everything else.  I think this is a good example to writers everywhere of how important it is to spend time on creating characters for your story.

About The Haberdasher

Created by writers for writers, The Haberdasher, or le Hab, is your Peddler of Literary Art for Northern California and beyond. In addition to writing tips and literary debates, we also feature critical reviews and author interviews.


3 thoughts on “The Importance of Character

  1. Do you have any tips on bolstering characters? I once read an article about using “place,” (geographic/emotional/situational-place) as a way to build up character. The author asserted the idea that your place should really work like a catalyst with you character, and that and that, by making them constantly react to place (strategically of course), you could create dynamic characters who seemed to belong somewhere. If you think about anything you’ve heard about association, that idea makes a lot of sense. Like you said, when I think LOTRs I think Hobbits, and when I think Hobbits, I can certainly describe many places. It seems that idea could be one way to bolster character.

    Any others?

    PS-thanks so much, great discussions on your blog! 🙂

    Posted by David Puerner | April 3, 2012, 1:58 pm
    • David-

      Robin Black’s “The Potential of the Peripheral” on secondary characters might be of interest: And yes, we’re talking about running a contests through the site. In fact, we’re going to be putting out a call for submissions for the first edition of our literary journal by the end of the month. Maybe you can convince those friends who needed to be outed as “creatives” to submit, too.

      Posted by The Haberdasher | April 3, 2012, 4:43 pm
      • You can call on me whenever you need help. Thanks for the link! I think I’ll try and direct more people here as well. Maybe we could get some more discussion.

        Posted by David Puerner | April 3, 2012, 11:02 pm

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