I just read this list, and find it very helpful, if not completely surprising.
In it, Barnett compiles the elements of effective character development. What I liked in the post was how true it rang. I'm starting the fifth Song of Ice and Fire novel, before finishing a post-apocalyptic zombie thriller that just doesn't excite me as much, and alongside James Patterson (Maximum Ride series - we just fiinished #2) and Mike Lupica (Hero) for the boys.
AJ Barnett - Tell Me a Story: More on characters
I've skipped over the first two for my own writing, but at work, I edited a few series and found the pictures (#1 on Barnett's list) pretty helpful. I didn't list all the attributes, though.
I keep reflecting on the habits of the authors of my favorite books, and without access to the authors directly, I have only logic to go on. George Martin (Song of Ice and Fire) has so many characters, I can't imagine he wrote down all their characteristics. However, each one comes alive so distinctly that I am sure he has a critical list for each. You can hear it in their speech, as well as see it in the staging of scenes. In that way, Martin is very much like Jeanne Penderwick, whose books are parodied as "The Penderwicks don't do anything," but which include such deft detail and dialogue that the characters come alive off the page and do memorable nothings, rather than forgettable big things.
Anyway, worth a read. Thanks to AJ Barnett.
- Steve Shea
- A 40-ish publisher (editor, project manager, etc.), husband, and father of an even number of offspring, I grew up, or failed to, reading fantasy and sci-fi. I still enjoy reading, and now am trying to write. My favorite books include YA fantasy, manga, biography, and advice to authors. I'm also a former history major/grad student/high school teacher and assessment writer. Now I work for a school supplement publisher, specializing in high-low chapter books. I spend a lot of my time controlling reading levels. At night, I cut loose and use long words. W00t!