Character is important

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Writers Corner

Rusty Strait | Senior Reporter

How you define your characters in a book is crucial to the flow of your story. Dialect often defines characters more than mere descriptions. If your protagonist is from the deep south, don’t expect him or her to speak with a Boston accent. Perhaps he or she is from New York, where the manner of dialogue is crisp and fast.

Perhaps you are presenting your characters with no dialect that would indicate where they were born and raised. The danger in that can be that all your characters sound the same.

Characters can also be identified by their habits, taste in food and clothing, the way they walk, or their movements. The important issue is that characters without identity cast a cloud over your story.

What are your characters’ goals? What kind, if any, business are they working at? A lawyer or doctor, both professionals, will not react to situations the same way. Nor will someone who is single as opposed to a happily married.

So, you see, defining your characters begins the moment they are introduced into your story. I like to define my characters before I introduce them into my story. I can do that in one page at most. For lesser characters, perhaps in a paragraph. As your story proceeds, it is always possible, depending on circumstances, that character changes may occur because of circumstances.

I suggest Strunk’s Elements of Style will be a valuable tool if you are just starting out to become the writer you hope to be. See ya next time. Just sayin’. [email protected]


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