Talking characters – Victoria and me

I’m back at Victoria Mixon’s for the second part of our weekly editor chats. Last week we hammered out plot. Today the subject is characters. We discussed techniques for developing characters, what makes a character with dignity and depth, whether to use all your research – and my dislike of what some of you call plaid and what I call tartan.

Hey, we’re all allowed unreasonable quirks. Take a highland fling over to Victoria’s blog and see what it’s all about… Thank you, Lee Carson, for the picture…

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  1. #1 by Alexander M Zoltai on April 14, 2011 - 6:26 am

    Always a good time reading you and Victoria’s chats.

    Have you met in person?

    • #2 by rozmorris on April 14, 2011 - 8:59 am

      Hello Alexander! No we haven’t met in person – yet! There’s the small matter of the Atlantic in the way. But Victoria is coming to the UK in the autumn and we are definitely going to meet then.

      • #3 by Alexander M Zoltai on April 14, 2011 - 9:33 am

        You ladies should plan on doing a video interview after you meet :-)

  2. #4 by K.M. Weiland on April 14, 2011 - 4:19 pm

    That. Poor. Sheep. Ah well, at least nobody will accuse him of being uninteresting, right? Great thoughts, as always, Roz.

    • #5 by rozmorris on April 14, 2011 - 7:18 pm

      Guess it’ll be relieved to get a haircut.

      Nice to see you, Katie!

  3. #6 by Sally on April 15, 2011 - 10:11 am

    Very interesting topic. I was awed by Victoria’s reference to Flannery O’Connor: “when these details surface organically they begin to take on resonance and become symbolic. Those are the details that eventually form the nuances of your Resolution.” Wonderful. :)

    I’m one of those people for whom the characters are everything. They are the story. If the story is bigger than the characters (e.g. like Avatar) then my attention will wander, even if I happen to appreciate the story in its own right.

    My characters always come to me very naturally, almost as if they’ve existed all along but have been ‘forgotten’ in my subconscious somewhere, and simply need to be ‘remembered’ (a bit like how Amy Pond had to remember the Doctor in the last series! I loved that idea.). The only time I have problems is when my characters have to be typecast into archetypes – especially the hero and the main villian. Both my hero and heroine are strong characters, but probably the least interesting, especially as they’re also the main narrators. The main villian manwhile seems to represent an institute of evil rather than existing as a strong character in his own right. The rest of the characters are completely wild, difficult to cast into typical archetypes and it is they who actually drive the story.

    • #7 by rozmorris on April 15, 2011 - 11:44 am

      Sally, what an interesting way to view characters – that they existed all along but just needed to be awakened.
      I’m also a fan of the Moffat regeneration of Dr Who – although I did think that wedding scene was a bit contrived… But that was more in the execution than the concept that Amy had to remember.
      As for archetypes… they’re useful as guidance for the roles you need, but one character can easily perform a number of them, or an archetypal role can easily be spread among a group.

  4. #8 by Sally on April 15, 2011 - 1:52 pm

    Yes, I agree that the wedding scene didn’t quite hit the mark, even if the concept of remembering was pretty cool. Thanks for reminding me that archetypes should serve as a guide rather than as a hard rule. I sometimes get carried away with the theory of it all. :)

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