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Alphabet Blogging: X is for…

XXeroxed characters.

Have you ever read a book and thought that every single one of the characters sounded and acted the same way and even seemed to have the same motivations? It’s almost like the author just copied one character several different times, gave them a different hair or eye color to distinguish, and set them loose.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a certain type of character that I automatically lean toward writing–and seem to write fairly well. This character is often very snarky, and generally leans toward being a hero/heroine with some morally gray areas and a dark backstory.

But I try to keep these characters separate by giving them more than just a few differing physical aspects. The goal is to make these character closer to living, breathing human beings than xeroxed cardboard cut-outs. It requires digging into a character’s backstory and motivations, figuring out a unique way for them to speak (maybe their inflections are funny, or maybe they have a pet phrase, or a certain way of phrasing a question)–figuring out ways that make them uniquely them.

Even if you’re a plot-first writer (I definitely am!), it’s still important to flesh out your characters. Maybe you have an awesome plot, but more and more these days, readers are demanding strong characters to carry even the strongest of plots as well.

How do you make sure your characters are unique and not copies of each other?

Also, side note…apologies for the short post and for missing last week. I just started Forged Steel‘s sequel, Burnt Silver, and it has been making me useless for almost anything else for the past couple of weeks. This is on one hand bad, because my house has devolved into something resembling the trash compactor on the first Death Star. But on the other hand, I can’t name the last time I’ve been so excited about a story that I dragged myself out of bed too early so I could work on it before the day got really busy. 🙂

Have a wonderful day!

About H. A. Titus

H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. Her love affair with fantasy began at age twelve, when her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings after listening to it on tape during a family vacation. Her stories have been published in Digital Dragon Magazine, Residential Aliens Magazine, and four anthologies: Alternative Witness; Avenir Eclectia Volume 1; The Tanist's Wife and Other Stories; and Different Dragons Volume II. In December 2013, her short story "Dragon Dance" won Honorable Mention in a Writers of the Future contest. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young son, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, skiing, or hanging out at her online home, hatitus.wordpress.com.

One comment on “Alphabet Blogging: X is for…

  1. I’m more of a character-driven writer, so most of my characters show up rather different from each other. Still, I have my pet preferences, so I often have to fine-tune things.

    The fine-tuning usually involves fleshing out the details and deliberately giving each character contrasting personalities, values and details. Where one character is high-strung, I make another more patient and calm. Where one character is motivated by morality, another is in it for personal gain. I try to imagine which characters will interact with each other during the course of the story and make sure there are conflicts and contrasts to keep those interactions interesting.

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