Being true to your characters

What does this mean to you? I've always heard this thrown about and have never really given it a lot of thought. It's simple: just create some believable characters and there you go, why all the DEEP THOUGHTS?

But then I had an epiphany.

I was doing some revising, thanks to my crit group, and I came to a passage where I was changing a character's reactions and his motivation. This character is named Balthazar. It suddenly dawned on me.

Balthazar wouldn't say that. He would be more serious and grave, almost threatening.

And that's when it clicked. Sure, it's a small thing, but it was the first time I ever really felt it with one of my characters. It was looking at the scene in a new way, from Balthazar's point of view and saying, No what would he REALLY do in this situation? Don't just gloss over it.

Sure, this may not be a great revelation to some of you, but for me, it was progress. It was especially enlightening because the passage I changed was one that I have had from the book's first incarnation, a year and a half ago. Me: "I can't change that passage. That's the way it's always been. If I change it, oh my God, what will happen then?"

Just let go.....

So, I don't know if I expressed this very well, but if you understand my babbling, let me know how you feel about being true to your characters.


PJ Hoover said...

So true! I remember once I read a WIP (first person) and it had narrative along the lines of "I think we better go there" (or something like that, you get the idea). And I thought- my character is in control. He doesn't run around second guessing himself with "I think"s thrown around the place. He says "We're going" and that's all.
Great post!

Prince Balthazar said...

That's exactly it, P.J.

Also, I went to Borders to buy Emerald Tablet, but they said it wasn't in-store yet.

I'm going to try another one closer to my office. If they don't have it I'll order it!

K. M. Walton said...

Your post is most certainly not babbling. I can relate. I got incredible feedback from my initial readers about character authenticity. I'd hear..."Theodora wouldn't say that. OR A real mother wouldn't react that way." It really helped me authenticate the voices of the people I'd created.

Our characters really are real people to us aren't they? Isn't that wild?

Carrie Harris said...

Yep. I totally get it. And it's the coolest thing when your critiquers start to notice when your voice is slipping. Because that means that you HAVE one. ;)

PJ Hoover said...

Thanks, Prince B for checking on it! I think it's just reaching the publisher like yesterday and then will ship to distributors. No idea how long until it would get to stores so I'd totally recommend ordering it at the store and they should get it faster!
Thank you so much!!!!!

Big Plain V said...

I used to cram all of my characters into my grandiose plotlines, making them do and say what I needed them to do and say, regardless of what they themselves wanted.

I finally realized that unless I thought of them as real people (with thoughts and goals independant of mine) they would never read like real people.

Pink Ink said...

Yes, sometimes our characters are smarter and truer than their creators!

It makes me think of my kids sometimes :-)

I just have to let them have at it, and I think most of the time things work out for the best.