Do Characters Float Your Boat?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Some of you might know that I do book reviews over at The Readers’ Suite. Most of the books I’ve been reading are those I review for People with Voices or the ones authors ask me to take on.   Last Friday, I was on Goodreads and while looking through my page, I came across a book I wanted to read, but hadn’t got around to. I downloaded a sample from Amazon and then bought the book.

It was a Mills and Book Modern Romance. I haven’t read one of those is years because the storylines started feeling like the same tale with different people, plus they’re written in the same way. However, this one was very strong on characterization. The plot wasn’t unique or complex, however, for the first time, I was reading about a female character with physical flaws – burn scars. The writer did a great job putting me into the heads of girl and guy. This is a skill I respect.  I’m posting the cover here because it serves as a cool reminder of the escape I enjoyed this weekend and no, I don’t know the writer.

I’ve made it a point in my writing to pay special attention to my characters. Stories fall flat if characterization isn’t done right. We know that. This particular element of writing is why I started this blog and how it got its name, but boy, have I strayed off point with my posts.

I don’t think it takes special talent to write compelling characters. My method is to always be inside the skin or the person whose story I’m telling. It can be emotionally disturbing, but based on the reviews I’ve gotten on my books to date, I believe I’m doing something right. It’s all well and good to have a rollicking plot, but if there isn’t a larger-than-life protagonist to make the story rock, you lose me as a reader.

So, what do you think? Can you live without a unique character and deep point-of-view? D’you believe it takes talent to come up with compelling characters or d’you think it’s something every writer can learn to do over time?