Monthly Archives: October 2012
To make a character interesting and memorable to the reader, he or she must have an inner/outer conflict. Conflict equals drama, and while your character must come into conflict in the plot of your novel, there must be dramatic tension in how he or she reacts externally and internally to conflict. So, for instance a character may be a do-gooder on the outside, but inside have a rage against the world because they feel used. Or they may be cold and withdrawn on the outside, while inside beats a passionate heart. The inner/outer conflict adds a dimension to your character, rounding them out so your reader will engage and believe.
When in doubt, use ‘said’ when attributing dialogue. What you want as a writer is for your reader to forget you actually exist, and enter the story you’re telling, believing it’s real. Nothing will pull them out of the ‘reality’ of your book more than bad attribution of dialogue, or excessive variety of attribution. So, “said” is perfectly fine attribution for dialogue in novels. Don’t labor to find such synonyms as uttered, pronounced, responded, or retorted. They’ll only destroy the credibility of your story.
Getting to know your characters is one of the most enjoyable parts of the process of novel writing. A really good way to do it is to keep a scrapbook for each of your main characters as you are writing, pasting in pictures of things they might like – shoes, clothes, accessories, furniture, places to go on holiday, movies, books… anything that takes your fancy. It’s an incredibly good way building up a good internal picture of who your character is on many different levels.