Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Nancy Kress on Characters

I continue my adulation of Nancy Kress with the following gems on characters from Write Great Fiction. (Buy a copy; study it; sleep with it under your pillow.)

  •  Changers – characters who alter in significant ways as a result of the action
    • Learn or grow
    • Their evolution is the stories emotional arc (logical sequence of alterations)
  • Stayers
    • Come to grief because of their blindness
    • Locked into destructive patterns (personal/sociatal)
  • Strength of character
    • Enough variety in individual characters – Sufficiently diverse
    • Plausable
    • Interesting?
    • Have plausable scope of players?
    • Logical for setting?
  • Elements of the character
    • Name (to suggest family background, ethnicity, age, class, play against reader expectation
    • Nicknames
    • Appearance
    • Overall impression
    • Stereotypes -- to provide strong visual image – impression; imply personality, background; provoke future action – reader interest
      • Worldly, aloof
      • Gritty, dangerous
      • Appealing, unsophisticated
      • Smart, dumb
      • Thin, lank hair (nondescript personality)
      • Fat, sweaty hands (grasping person)
      • Short (napoleonic)
  • Class
    • Money
    • Education
    • Prestigious job
    • Socioeconomic group
    • Dress
    • Vacations
    • Sports
    • Pets
    • Liquor
    • Brand names – can date, stereotype, mislead
  • Make characterization count
  • Use dress to convey
    • taste
    • social status
    • personality
Write Every Day!

Regards,
Mac
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