Thursday, April 19, 2012

Writing Hints for Authors—Creating a Believable Character

An author is an observant person. How does one create a believable character? By observation! I keep a notebook with me at all times, although it is advisable to wait to jot down personality quirks one sees. In my new book, Impossible Promise, the character Roscoe is a man who is obese, but he sees himself as “big.” Most women admit to being overweight, even when they aren’t. Not so with the bulk of men (a good pun as well). In one scene, Roscoe contemplates his lunch. He has eaten several sandwiches, Twinkies, a diet cola, and lastly, he has added yogurt. Why? Because a woman at work said that she eats yogurt to lose weight. Roscoe doesn’t get it. Believe it or not, I actually heard a man say this, and sure enough, I jotted it down for future use.
Another character in the same book argues that a two-year degree is an “undergraduate” degree. He has applied for a job, thinking he has the qualification because, as everybody knows, if you didn’t finish the four-year degree, it is an undergraduate degree. If you finish the four years, then you graduate, making your degree a graduate degree. Folks, I simply could not make that up. Yes, I heard this from a hapless interviewee.
I also jot down the endless Mississippi country expressions, such as one I used in Impossible Promise. I heard a man at the feed store comment about a politician, “He’s slimier than two eels fucking in a bucket of snot.” Ugh! What a priceless image.
Even the way people move is important. How do they carry themselves? Another thing to note is the way a place looks. It is important to describe a place realistically, which is easier to do if you can remember details. Details make a scene real to the reader.

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