Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Characterizations

I recently listened to Richelle Mead's newest contribution to her Vampire Academy breakout series, Bloodlines. This is the third book with Sydney and Adrian. Now, Adrian (a Moroi--good vampire who can do magic and doesn't burn up in the sun but is fatigued by too much exposure to it) is very different from human Sydney (an alchemist whose people help the Moroi but only because alchemists view them as evil and must be kept from humans).

One of the things that strikes me as I listen to these books (I'm a huge audiobook fan) is how well Mead handles the unique and often quirky personality differences between Sydney and Adrian. And I'm not just talking about the fun voice differences the reader provides.

Adrian is a recovering playboy. Kind of. lol He's funny and he's flirty and he's self-denigrating. Adrian's flawed and still finding his way as he grows up and learns to deal with his magic (which could eventually drive him insane--literally). Here are some examples of the kind of quips he comes up with:
“I know how devastated you must be to miss me, but leave a message, and I'll try to ease your agony.” 
“Who is he?"
"An idiot," said Adrian. "Makes me look like an upstanding member of society.” 
“You look confused," said Adrian.
I shook my head and sighed. "I think I'm just overthinking things."
He nodded solemnly. "That's why I try to never do it.” 
The books are written in first person--from Sydney's point of view--so we don't get into Adrian's head. His comments do a great job of showing the reader what frame of mind he's in at the moment.

Mead has more flexibility with Sydney because of the first person writing, but I think this is where the author excels. The things that Sydney notices and thinks about are so "Sydney." She's brilliant, analytical, and totally a novice when it comes to feelings. Even her battle scene descriptions reflect how she views the world. She's a rule keeper and even her internal thoughts reflect that--if she's trying to break into someone's apartment and the ratty fire escape looks like it needs repair, she'll wonder why someone didn't report it, all while she's hanging two or three floors above the ground.

This is what we need to do with our characters. Make sure that we're capturing the uniqueness that is each one. Do you have any tips for doing that?

19 comments:

  1. One of the best pieces of advice I was given was give your character a flaw, and give them a strength. Other characteristics you will find as you write.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ensure that you know your characters as you write. Make notes in a separate book about their personalities, quirks, anything you can to keep up with each of them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting stuff. I don't know if I have any particular tips, other than trying to keep in mind what each character is all about as you write them. Ask yourself things like, 'would she say it like this?' 'Would he really do that?' and such.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sounds like she did a great job with it.
    Read dialogue out loud helps. If it all sounds the same, then you know the characters need a bit more personality.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sometimes I struggle with making my characters different enough. I've heard of this series but not read it. You're making me want to, especially if I can get the audio version. I'm a big fan of audio books too.

    ReplyDelete
  6. The more stuff you give them the more unique they will be.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like the idea of flaws and strengths.

    One of the criticisms I've been getting in my writing group is 'are some of those scenes necessary - they don't seem to move the story along'. While some of my scenes don't seem to move the story along, I'm trying to show a particular strength of a very flawed character.

    Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like giving them quirks, really makes them relatable more.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have a great deal of respect for any first person author who can make me forget it's first person and become a part of the story. I love unique characters regardless of the POV you write. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've only read the first three of the Vampire Academy books, but Adrian was my favorite character. :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. I've only read the first three of the Vampire Academy books, but Adrian was my favorite character. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I don't really have any tips . . . I'm still trying to nail it myself!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for this helpful post, Donna! Even though I'm writing in third person pov, I'll sometimes write a scene (or part of a scene) in first person. That gets me into the character's head. I remember that each character--not just the MC--- has a goal in the scene and each character thinks they're the hero of the story.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think making them consistent with the traits you give them helps too. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  15. definitely important to have every character sound different, especially when you have different POVs for your story.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

    ReplyDelete
  16. Stealing features from real people around you and giving them to the characters is one of best techniques to make unique ones since life and nature write the best of characters :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is such a good point. I think beyond the different ideals and flaws characters have, you have to make up certain "dialects" for them. For instance, they can have favorite words and phases that aren't used by any other characters. They can either ramble or speak brusquely. They can have different slang and colloquialisms.

    Identifying special traits for each makes the characterizations stand out. (This is such cool subject matter - I'm gonna use it in my next month's Horror newsletter for writing.com!)
    Thanks! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I work on character journals before I write. I want to know my characters to ensure their voice.

    ReplyDelete

Comments brighten my day.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...