By Loretta Eidson
After moving into a new neighborhood, I moseyed to the swing on the front porch. My neighbors stirred about filling hummingbird feeders, weeding flowerbeds, and walking their dogs. Curiosity mounted as I sipped coffee and enjoyed the cool of the morning. Who were these people and how long had they lived here? Did they have a family? What did they do for a living?
It wasn’t until later I realized that’s exactly what our readers want to know when they turn the pages of our novels. This is why we hear repetitive teaching about character development. Some of us learn fast and catch on the first time around. However, for others, all that information lays dormant in a mental filing cabinet until our understanding actually grasps its meaning.
For me, the battle within my mind tried to reason that I could pursue a story without completing a character profile. Surely I would remember everything about each character, and I didn’t have to waste precious writing time fooling with tedious details like a character profiling.
Wrong! I did forget.
Scrolling back through a novel to locate inconsistent information on each character was a tedious task. Trust me. I’m here to tell you it wasn’t fun, and I ended up wasting a lot more time than it would have taken had I properly developed my characters in the first place.
Fact is, if we plan to write a great novel we’ve got to establish depth in our characters. Developing depth is more than merely selecting our character’s names. Each one must be birthed and given descriptive details such as the color of their hair and eyes, height and weight, likes and dislikes, and the reasons behind scars. We show their quirks and body language, and describe their personalities.
Think about it. We usually know important details about the friends we hang out with on a regular basis. We know their hobbies and quirks, their hurts, pain, and fears. We know the sound of their voices. Sometimes we can even finish a sentence for them.
If we want to write a story that pulls the reader in and keeps their eyes glued to the pages, we must know the people we write about and make them real to our audience. Let’s not be over zealous and bypass characterization. It can make all the difference in the success of our stories.
Loretta Eidson writes romantic suspense. Her novel won first place in her genre in the 2014 Novel Rocket Contest, placed in the top ten of 2013 & 2015 ACFW Genesis contest, was a finalist in the 2014 ACFW Genesis Contest. Loretta is a Craftsman Alumni of the Christian Writers Guild. She and her husband live in Iuka, Mississippi. They have four children and twelve grandchildren. Find Loretta on Facebook and Twitter.