Caring About Your Characters – Or Not

Do you have to care about your characters and their story to write it? Do you have to invent characters you like before writing?

Some people say yes. I say no, at least not at the beginning of the process.

True, it’s more fun if you care. The best fun out there. But fun isn’t the only enjoyable aspect of writing. There’s also challenge. And there’s a lot of challenge in starting to write a story where everything is up in the air, where you know nothing about your characters.

When I care about characters, I usually mean that I like them, and/or want to see them conquer their enemies, achieve self-actualization, whatever their story goal might be. If I wouldn’t necessarily want some of them to be my everyday buddies, they would be interesting people to meet at a party and then back away from, slowly. Care can also mean I want to see them lose their evilly-gotten gains, be insulted, or simply get killed gruesomely in the course of the story.

Trying to find reasons to care about a character, now there’s a challenge. What could Blank Slate possibly do that would make me love him? Or, alternatively, make me want to stick an icepick in his ear? And why would he do that? And how will he go about showing it to the reader? And who will get in his way?

See, instant story. Because I didn’t have a character I automatically felt something for.

Related post: Learning Who Your Characters Are.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
This entry was posted in writing craft, writing process. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Caring About Your Characters – Or Not

  1. Jenna Reynolds says:

    I do find that characters often interest me in that I want to know what they plan to do in the story and why they are doing what they do. So, I’m not sure if care is the word I’d use regarding my characters, but being intrigued by them is usually enough to get me going on a story. :)

  2. Victoria Janssen says:

    Intrigued is, I think, an even better word for it.

Comments are closed.