November 11, 2010

Strong Character Wrap-up & Veteran’s Day

Puzzle with One Red Piece

Okay, what have we learned from the big series on creating strong characters?  To feel realistic, characters need to have goals, a delusional self-image, multiple personalities, flaws, and a reason for their actions.  Hmm…  All that makes them sound a touch crazy, doesn’t it?  (Not as crazy as I am, but getting closer.)

What does that all really come down to?  Thinking of your characters as real people.  They have strengths and weaknesses, needs and desires, and a reason for doing what they’re doing and thinking what they’re thinking.

The more we think of our characters as being real, and the more we respect the pieces of themselves shown to us, the more honest and transparent our writing becomes.  So when you think your muse is leading your astray, take the time to figure out why your characters are running rampant over your plot outline.  Maybe by listening to them, you’ll discover some deeper truth to your story.  And maybe, after they feel understood and validated, they’ll go along with what you have planned for them.

Yep, it’s true.  I sometimes act as psychologist to my characters. And in exchange, my characters never whine about me making their lives too difficult.  In fact, they’re the ones that told me I need to make my stories more devastating.  Now that’s dedication.

So What does Veteran’s Day Have to do with Writing?

Going along with this whole “I’m crazy” theme, my characters also asked me for a favor.  Many of them are big supporters of our soldiers, so with Veteran’s Day on the calendar, they wanted me to figure out some way to honor the brave men and women fighting for freedom.

As a writer, of course my mind went to books.  Our soldiers have quite a bit of downtime during their tours, and books are always appreciated to help relieve their boredom and anxiety.  Think about it, who needs the escape into a good book more than them?  After a bit of Googling, I found a couple of different options:

  • If you’d like to just donate money to the cause, both Operation Paperback and Books for Soldiers welcome PayPal donations.  I believe Operation Paperback uses Google Checkout and can accept credit cards as well.
  • If you’d like to donate books, you can check with your local veteran’s organizations to see if they have any desire for books.  Maybe the local VA hospital would like some for their patient library, or maybe a group could sell them for cash.  This website gives information about some of the local options.
  • If the local options don’t work, both Operation Paperback and Books for Soldiers will match you and the books you have to donate with a deployed troop so you can ship a box directly to soldiers in the field.

I thank you in advance for your support.  Everyone who donates books or money through any of the methods above and comments below to let me know you did so will be entered into a drawing for a book giveaway from me.  I’ll have my giveaway coincide with the Books for Soldiers matching program, so this contest will be open until midnight EST, November 26, 2010.  So there you go, give books and be entered in a drawing to get a book.  How cool is that?

Comments — What do you think?

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Hi Jami!

What a great wrap-up to the series. Thanks for doing it. I’ll be sure to use this as reference and a good reminder when I need a character refresher. 🙂


Joanna St. James

this is a really great tool for all writers


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