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 [she, her] currently writes cozy space opera for Kalikoi. The novella series A Place of Refuge begins with Finding Refuge: Telepathic warrior Talia Avi, genius engineer Miki Boudreaux, and augmented soldier Faigin Balfour fought the fascist Federated Colonies for ten years, following the charismatic dissenter Jon Churchill. Then Jon disappeared, Talia was thought dead, and Miki and Faigin struggled to take Jon’s place and stay alive. When the FC is unexpectedly upended, Talia is reunited with her friends and they are given sanctuary on the enigmatic planet Refuge. The trio of former guerillas strive to recover from lifetimes of trauma, build new lives on a planet with endless horizons, and forge tender new connections with each other.
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.