The Roundup Episode 05: Characters

Ah, my favorite subject: the character.  The building block of your story.  You can have all of the plots, settings, and themes you want, but without those characters to interact with your world, you're dead in the water.  Granted, that holds true for all of those properties, but they can't all be my favorites now, can they?

Here are some fun links I picked up this week.

Article #1 - Making Your Super Characters Extraordinary

Elizabeth S. Craig retweets a lot of different writing articles every day, so I follow her on Twitter and check out a few (usually, I find that they're kind of dud-ish, though).  This was the first one where, as I was reading it, I was like, "Yes!  That!  Exactly that!"

She makes so many excellent points, but I'm going to pick one: motivations.  Seriously, every character needs one, even if they're just like me and the motivation is to have said something funny by the time the Dr. Pepper glass is empty.

Article #2 - Character Building

So Stephen King wrote a book.

I know, shocker, right?

But this time, he wrote a book about writing, and even though this theory doesn't hold true with every writer (*coughDANBROWNcough*), you can look at his profile page, see how much he's written, and figure the guy knows a thing or two about writing. Dude even makes no bones as to what the book's about: it's called On Writing (not to be confused with On Writing Well, which I had to read for my Style in Writing class in college).  Actually it's called On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, but I've seen most people refer to it as On Writing.

Now, me personally, I have not read this book.  I don't tend to read a lot of full-length books on how to write because my philosophy is more, "Well, I could be reading about writing...or I could be writing."  However, I have heard good things about it and if the blog post I just linked to has anything to say, it's probably a pretty good read, so any aspiring writers out there might want to head to the local library, say hi to LeVar Burton, and pick this up.  Also, read the article because I think it has some great tips in it, stuff I use myself.

Just for Kicks: A Mary Sue Litmus Test

You know what a Mary Sue is, right?  Wikipedia defines a Mary Sue as a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader.

Sometimes this term gets bandied about too often, and I feel like Mary Sue Litmus tests are a dime a dozen and don't often get to the heart of the matter, but I found this really fun one that rates your characters in different categories like "Plain Jane" and "Momma HATES her!"  It's little more than a diversion, but I thought people might get a kick out of it.

And yes, I filled out one for Fates Sarah.  It was fun checking "EVERYBODY thinks she's beautiful, even the bad guys," which isn't my usual M.O. in creating characters, but alas, my hands were tied (mxpw: thank God!).




  1. Hee, that Mary Sue test was fun to take. :D Thanks for the links, Frea!

  2. Alris29.1.11

    Aww come on you can't tell us you filled it out for fates Sarah and not tell us the results :)

  3. On Writing is a fantastic book. Its mostly about being honest or telling the truth when writing fiction.

    And has some great autobiographical material to boot.

  4. They don't really cover Sarah's emotional complexities very well on this Mary Sue test, so I don't really agree with this assessment, but here's what I got, Alris:

    Sarah is only a little like you. She isn't really very cool: she blends into crowds, she hangs out on the fringes at parties, and wearing shades after dark makes her run into things. There's never been anything special about her that she could see; boy, is she in for a surprise. She's got no emotional scars to speak of. And you've been sparing with the free handouts: whatever she gains, she's worked for.

    In general, you care deeply about Sarah, but you're smart enough to let her stand on her own, without burdening her with your personal fantasies or propping her up with idealization and over-dramatization. Sarah is a healthy character with a promising career ahead of her.

    Score Breakdown
    I Love Her, I Let Her Go 7
    You Mean Plaid Is Out? 4
    Plain Jane 0
    Healthy as a Horse 0
    Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child 6
    Total: 17


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