When Characters Come Alive

Updated: Apr 16, 2018

(Originally published July 2010)

Entertainment Weekly’s June cover totes the ‘Greatest 100 characters of the last 20 years’. There are some I definitely agree with, and others – ehh – not so much. However, I knew or have at least heard of all 100! Meaning, whether good or bad, the character stuck in my mind (or I just spend way too much time in front of the TV).


I bring this up because of something that happened to me Sunday night while writing. I was fortunate to write and edit all weekend so by Sunday night I was getting a little fried. I was about to call it quits but wanted to wrap up one scene.


The scene described some necessary details, but it was boring me, meaning it would probably bore you, so it either needed a drastic edit or to be cut. I went back to tighten it up and before my eyes, the scene turned and my characters came alive in front of me. I admit that I LOVE my two main characters. They are alive and well in my head but I had some doubts that they were as alive on paper. I felt them, more than I saw them. I was hoping to clear this up during editing, but thank goodness, they had other ideas.


During this scene, the dialogue flowed as did the chemistry and they instantly jumped off the page. I was so damn giddy! For the first time in my 150,000 words of writing, I could see their faces clear as day and knew exactly who they were, they are and who they will become. Of course they might have different ideas in the next books, but I’m still open to suggestion.


It frightens me that it took this long for them to step up and slap me around a bit, but it brought back my belief in pushing through the doldrums so creativity can spark again. Sometimes, I think it may be better to write when you least feel like it just to get you out of your highway hypnosis, but I’ll save that for another post. Soon the labor of love will turn to editing the first draft, weaving more life into the protagonists early on and watching them grow, so in the end (I hope), you love them as much as I do!


If you would like to see the Entertainment Weekly article, go to 100 Greatest Characters.