by Laney Katz Becker
Before I begin, I’ve got a confession to make: This is the first time I’ve ever blogged. I swore I’d never write a blog, but when you’re part of a team sometimes the majority wins. So, here I sit, doing what I promised myself I wouldn’t do. It’s not that I have anything against blogs, but to be honest, it’s not the sort of thing women my age are doing. In fact, if I stopped typing right now and phoned, oh, say, six or seven of my friends, I’ll bet that only one or two of them would even know what a blog is.
OK, I’m back. I was wrong. I guess my friends are more hip than I give them credit for.
Even still, let me make this clear:
One. I stand behind the sentiment I expressed in the opening of this, my first ever blog. This blog-thing isn’t something I wanted to do; it’s not something I’m comfortable doing, in fact, I don’t even know what I’m doing, so, please – be kind.
Two. The topic for this, my first ever blog, Characters that get me every time – and why, wasn’t something I chose. It was assigned to me by my colleague Rachel Vater. (Hey, if I voted against doing this blog, I certainly wasn’t going to suddenly get all enthusiastic and passionate by proclaiming that there was some topic I was just dying to write about. So I asked for topic ideas and then I did what I was told.)
Three. I’m a totally unreliable narrator. I mean it. I never, ever, voted against this blog. In fact, I think it’s a great way to help writers understand more about agents, and what we’re looking for. I *love* new things, so doing a blog is something I’ve been looking forward to.
So, how am I doing so far? Do I have your interest? Better yet, what kind of “character” do you think I am? Yup. This rant of mine has all just been a rather elaborate way to demonstrate what “gets me” and why.
Clearly, I’m a huge fan of the adage “show, don’t tell.” As a reader I always bring my brain. Or at least I try to. I’d much rather figure out who you are, (“you” being your character) and what makes you tick, than have you spell it all out for me. I also appreciate it if you have dimension; after all, who in this world is wholly good or wholly bad? You’ve got flaws? Good. Me, too.
If you’ve got personality, then I’m *really* likely to sit up and pay attention. I love characters with “voice.” The fresher the better. That, however, does not necessarily mean I like characters who are quirky, unless such quirks are there for a reason, and (big and) are believable. If I can hear you correctly, (again – I’m talking about voice), then I can understand what motivates you. That’s good, because once we form that connection I’m much better able to walk in your shoes, and I totally love trying on other personas. But, be forewarned: If you’re being different just to be different, or if you’re acting quirky just to be quirky, well, I’m likely to see through that and I will probably just find you annoying. Authenticity is something I value.
If I find myself smiling while I’m reading, chances are I’m enjoying your tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. If your struggles and challenges make me cry, I’ll hate you for giving me puffy eyelids, but I’ll love you for touching my heart. If your kindness renews my faith in my fellow man, then you’ve motivated me to rethink my skepticism.
The bottom line here ladies and gents: Make your characters real, multi-faceted and give them depth. Then, through you, they will speak to me. And once a character has been brought to life, that’s it! You’ve got me – every time.
P.S. I really did vote against this blog.
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