Yesterday at yet another wonderful Read3r’z Revu event, the exceptional young adult author Tara Eglington was in residence discussing her latest book My Best Friend is a Goddess. She mentioned how her characters become so real, so alive, that she can hear them speak. When I spoke with Graham Potts author of No Free Man at The Tao Deception launch he mentioned he’d experienced the exact same phenomenon. So what’s it all about?
One of the key skills of a good writer is the ability to create convincing characters. The web is full of tips and traps on this topic and I imagine every institute that offers writing courses would cover it too but as a reader, you know instinctively when it’s done well. Essentially you care. Love them or hate them, you believe in them, their struggles are your struggles, their triumphs your triumphs.
I introduced The Neverending Story and The Princess Bride to my kids recently and these films do a marvelous job of depicting how you can literally become part of the book you are reading – suffering and rejoicing alongside the characters in equal measure.
Award winning poet, rapper and author Kate Tempest also discussed the partnership between reader and author at the 2016 Sydney Writers’ Festival, how one cannot exist without the other. The author may create the characters but we as readers use our own imaginations to bring them to life, so they are unique to us. If you have a moment listen to Kate Tempest’s opening address or the podcast of her in discussion with Michael Williams – she’s extraordinary.
For some authors, it seems their characters are, in a sense, well and truly alive. It’s perfectly natural for them to have their own feelings and opinions as to what they would do in a given circumstance. I imagine it must be frustrating when characters won’t do as they are told!
Happy reading and writing!