Back in February I talked a bit about characterization. It was more of a brief note, but I wasn’t sure if I was conveying the right feel for a character development explanation at the time. I wasn’t certain how to explain to someone who couldn’t see inside my head (and not be driven insane) a way to build a seriously compelling character.
Then I realized that I can’t tell a writer how to build a compelling character because different things are interesting to different people.
I personally like a character who is torn, conflicted between loyalty and what’s right. I actually prefer the anti-hero more than a hero, because while a hero is expected to win, the anti-hero can lose and it not ruin the entire book (or series). I like strong women characters, women who kick butt yet aren’t afraid to admit they would be lost in a kitchen (eat that, Martha Stewart!). I love villains who have a plan, are adaptable and scary smart. Basically, I like characters that I write because they interest me.
Now, I will be the first to point out that writing a book for yourself doesn’t always bring in the bucks. Many struggling writers out there write books solely because it’s what they want to read. Maybe they find an agent who agrees with them. Maybe they get extremely lucky and find an audience that wants to read exactly what interests the writer. There’s a lot of maybes in this paragraph.
Or you can be like some writers who simply write to a target audience. The characters might be similar to every other urban fantasy novelist you’ve read. The plot, similar. The story, similar. But there will be readers who are interested, potentially, because it’s like the other authors work. There are agents and publishers who might be interested in it because it’s close to what their competitors are pumping out.
Then there’s that delicate, immediate balance between the two.