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What a Character


They’re all around us. The people whose outfits demand a raised eyebrow, whose accents incite chuckles, or whose topics of discussion could give hard-boiled news anchors a full-bodied blush. They are the real-life characters in your daily routine, and they make wonderful additions to your story, too.

Most of my fictional characters are fairly normal human-beings. They all tend to be semi-well-adjusted adults of various ages, with typical jobs, cars, homes, and families. But every story needs some quirkiness. It breaks up the normal, and wakes up your reader.

man-looking-through-binocularsI like to add some fun to a story with folks like Jib Boeller, a middle-aged man who insists that he saw the aliens who abducted the missing photographer. Rowan Kirk is a character I invented who refuses to wear neck-ties – why give an attacker a weapon already in place? – and who is fluent in nearly one hundred different languages, if you count all the most common computer programming scripts. I’m currently developing Ingrid, who is 118 years old with the appearance of a twenty-something supermodel. She’s a gourmet cook who loves opera and dangerous stunts.

My eccentric players are fictional, but their most defining character traits are certainly borrowed from my reality. I have friends who “speak” computer, see aliens, and jump from one adrenaline rush to the next. Every time I hear about someone doing something outrageous, I write down the basics and look for opportunities to include them in a story.

I don’t write them in such a way so that they could recognize themselves and be offended. I just include the details that make me curious about them in the first place. I believe that if I, as the author, am interested in them, then my audience will be, too.

Go ahead and give your reader a character who wears tiger-striped pants and chews fruflamesit gum whenever he wants to remember his computer passwords. Give your hero an Aunt Gilda who wears blue-glittered false eyelashes and drives a hearse with flames on the fenders.

These quirky folks don’t have to be your protagonists, but how a point-of-view character reacts to their idiosyncrasies can speak volumes to your reader. A vignette with a peculiar personality can provide your readers with respite from an otherwise tense scene. A well-placed kooky character can also help connect you to your reader. They will recognize their outfits, their mannerisms, or their habits, either in themselves or in someone they know.

Great characters are everywhere, just waiting to be part of your next tale. Keep your eyes and ears open and your pencil handy.

Kimberly Black

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10 Blogs for Writers Plus a Bonus


I thought I might pass on links to some of my favorite blogs.  So, I’ve assembled a list of 10, plus a bonus blog, because I just couldn’t stop at 10.

These blogs offer advice and tips from editors, agents and writers on all aspects of the writing life.  Some include writing prompts from time to time, for those days when you just can’t seem to get started.  A couple of these blogs are genre-specific and might not interest everyone.

I’ve picked these up from friends on facebook, from Writer’s Digest lists and from recommendations by fellow writers.  One of them, called Write News is news on the latest issues and advances in the areas of marketing, publishing  and copyright.  I look to Grammar Book for help with issues of grammar and usage that often plague even the best of us.

The bonus blog is one I think should be an essential for a every writer.  It’s maintained by the Science Fiction Writers Association, but is devoted to helping new writers and well-published writers alike avoid getting scammed.

Enjoy surfing through these sites and comment on the ones you liked.  Either click on the link or copy and paste in your browser.

http://advancedfictionwriting.com/

http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/

http://teenshiver.blogspot.com/

http://www.authormedia.com/

http://sixsentences.blogspot.com/

http://www.grammarbook.com/

http://abookinside.blogspot.com/

http://fictionwriting.about.com/

http://www.writenews.com/

http://plotwhisperer.blogspot.com/

Bonus Link

http://www.sfwa.org/for-authors/writer-beware/

These are only a small sample of the excellent blogs out there for writers.  Do you have a favorite I’ve missed, or a blog of your own on writing?  Tell us about it, please.

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Filed under blogs, editors, genres, grammar, news, publishing, SFWA, Writing, writing advise