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Friday, September 24, 2010

My two cents for The Great Blogging Experiment

Today is the day, in case you haven't heard (is that possible?) of Elana Johnson, Jen Daiker and Alex Cavanaugh Great Blogging Experiment! To read the other blogs check out Elana's blog here. The topic is writing compelling characters. And now for my two cents:


The thing that makes characters compelling for me are when they do things that are totally unexpected. Characters who always keep me guessing, even when I think I know how they will react (and how I would react) and they do the complete opposite. This always makes me want to read more to figure out why they did what they did. Of course, there has to be sufficient motivation to justify what the character does, especially when it is dangerous/crazy/unexpected.

Example: Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich. 16 books into the series and she still surprises me somehow. Even though I know she is constantly getting herself into trouble, I'm never bored or able to predict what she will do next, but I'm always sure it will be entertaining and compelling.


19 comments:

clp3333 said...

It's hard to keep characters compelling in a series. Those things to discover get fewer and far between. I think the key is to give the basic feel for the character and then leak the rest out slowly.

Margo Berendsen said...

Good point about how you have to justify why the character did something unexpected. I really need to try this sometime- just start experimenting with different reactions for my characters. Good point!

Jen said...

I'm a new follower! Love your blog name, super cute!

You are the first one I have come across that said "keep me guessing," I think we all THINK about it, but never say it aloud. I was glad to see it on your blog. I have yet to read a Janet Evanovich book but I look forward to picking one up and knowing that I am to expect the unexpected :)

Thanks for participating!

Lola Sharp said...

For a series as long as the Plum series, yeah, keeping some intrigue going is important. (plus, Janet's just funny as hell)

I'm still waiting to learn MUCH more about Ranger. Yep. *fans self*

I'm your newest follower. Nice to meet you. :)
Happy weekend,
Lola

C. N. Nevets said...

Love that you pair crazy/unexpected actions with reasonable motivation. I love twists and surprises, but it's not only unbelievable when it lacks motivation -- it's also much, much less interesting.

It's the the act itself that's most interesting. It's the motivation that drives the person to do it.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

"Characters who always keep me guessing, even when I think I know how they will react" - I love that! Great post! :-)

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Great example! Thanks for sharing.

Tere Kirkland said...

Key words being "sufficient motivation," of course! Love this post, because it's hard to keep things unexpected, especially in a series.

Great post!

~Tere

Elana Johnson said...

There is such a fine line between unpredictability and consistency. I try to err on the side of surprise myself.

Kelly Dexter said...

I haven't read the Stephanie Plum series, but I've heard great things about it. It's good to know that they still surprise the reader, even sixteen books in. I'll have to give them a try one day.

Excellent post!

lbdiamond said...

Ah, excellent point! Characters doing the unexpected definitely keeps me turning the pages! :D

paulgreci said...

I like surprises in books, too. I think the best ones are unexpected but logical.

Melissa said...

Unexpected actions by characters are my absolute favorite. Keeping that alive in a series is commendable.

Witless Exposition said...

This is a great point, and a dangerous fine line for starting authors. I really like how you pointed out the motivation issue.

I've had the Plum series recommended to me before. I had no idea there were 16 books! How does she do it? I'll have to give them a try.

Talei said...

Ah, I love mystery and intrigue and yes, trying to guess if a character is going to this or something unexpected.

And for the record I just wish Ms Plum would end up with Ranger. ;)

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wow...a 16 book series and your still loving the mc! That is wonderful. :)

Danielle said...

Thanks for the comments everyone! I'm trying to read/comment/follow all of you back!

Talei and Lola - Maybe I should've used Ranger as an example of a compelling character, he's so mysterious he's impossible to resist. Which sometimes makes me want to smack Stephanie for being able to.

Rachael Harrie said...

Doing something unexpected - great point! :)

Nicole Zoltack said...

Keep the reader guessing- - excellent suggestion. I also like the point about having your character do something unexpected. Great post!