Join the Madness

Friday, September 24, 2010

Compelling Characters

For the list of other participants go HERE

So when I heard we were all going to post on the same topic today I thought, "WOW! What a cool idea!"  

So cool, I'm having a serious bout of idea envy over here.  Why didn't I think of it?  Harumph.

So anyhow, after the shine wore off and the topic was revealed, I kinda panicked. (truth is, I'm still panicked)

Compelling Characters?  What the heck do I know about compelling characters?

I turned to dictionary.com because there was no room for error here.
[kuhm-pel-ing]
–adjective
1. tending to compel; overpowering: compelling reasons

2. having a powerful and irresistible effect; requiring acute admiration, attention, or respect: a man of compelling integrity; a compelling drama.

Okay.  No surprises there.  


  • Should my focus be on HOW to write a compelling character?  
  • Should I talk about a compelling character I know?  
  • Or should I (gulp) try to create a snippet showcasing a compelling character?
And that's as far as I got, friends.  I typed up that much then I answered the Siren's song that is SHIVER.

And I finished it.  Finally.  And there's only one thing to say:

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME???  
(I really want to make the font bigger...but that's as big as it gets)

If you've read the book, you know what I'm referring to.  If you haven't, I wouldn't dream of spoiling it.

If the bookstore was open, I'd be racing down there to get Linger.

And then it hit me.  The perfect example of compelling characters (and story line) was right under my nose...literally! 

I don't like wolves, you see.  I can't say I dislike them necessarily, but I'm not a fan.  I won't wax poetic about their beauty, grace, or power.  They're wild dogs in my book. And, truth be told, I never really understand why some people hang pictures of wolves on their walls.

I. Just. Don't. Get. It.

So I wasn't really drawn to this book. I only read it because so many of YOU liked it. I thought I'd be bored.  I thought I'd read a few chapters, roll my eyes, and put it back down.

But I didn't.  

THAT, my friends, is what writing compelling characters is all about.  Hooking even the most reluctant reader.

39 comments:

Jessica Carmen Bell said...

haha! So true!!!! I haven't read that book for exactly the same reason! Should I????

Jolene Perry said...

Well said Vicki.
There have been plenty of books that were right down my alley that didn't keep me reading and many that I was not at all excited about that I couldn't put down.

Creepy Query Girl said...

It's great when you find something that makes you want to rush out and get the sequel. I went through all the vampire academy books in like a month for just that reason. At least you didn't reference Harry Potter like me and 50 other participants. Don't I feel original. lol.

Jen said...

You want to know what's funny Vicki, she never wanted them to be labeled as wolves. She realized that's what they were, but she wanted them to almost be known in the animagus form (for those who've seen Harry Potter), their alter-ego if you will. The books are captivating, breathtaking and should be enjoyed. She never realized people would go ga-ga over Wolves... or Vampires.

Thanks for joining in the fun!

salarsenッ said...

Hi. Just hopped over here from Stina's blog. Great post. I love Dictionary.com. What an ingenious idea to surf that puppy. Nice. I have Linger, but have waited to read it since I've yet to read Shiver. Ugg. My TRL is so freaking long. Can't wait, though. Following you now.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love wolves (don't have any pictures of them on my wall, though), but I'm not into werewolves. Maybe that's why I had put off reading SHIVER for so long. But then I won it on a blog contest. Devoured it. And rushed out to buy and read LINGER. Can't wait for the final book.

After reading LINGER, I realized the characters I love to read about the most aren't the Sam and Grace types. It's the Cole and Isabel types. For me, those two made the book.

Bish Denham said...

Right you are. I recently read Blue Plate Special, whose subject is hard, hard. I didn't think I was going to be able to get past the first few pages, but the characters were SO compelling I was sucked right into their lives and you know, I really liked the book.

Matthew Rush said...

Kylie is reading it now. I get it next. W00T!

Clarissa Draper said...

That's a great example! I don't understand wolves on walls either...

Oh, I wanted to tell you, I acknowledge your wonderful prize and contribution to my writing career the best way I could, I put your button on my blog.

http://thesholeskey.blogspot.com/

CD

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

And I think you nailed your post, too!

Angela said...

Good post, but I have to ask: am I the only one in the world who didn't really connect with Shiver?

I mean, I see how the author did a good job with developing the characters and the idea behind the story is truly original. I liked the writing too, but have a short attention span and managed to get kind of bored toward the end. All though I did think the bathroom scene was very well done, making it down near impossible not to relate to Sam.

Shannon said...

Excellent point, Vicki. I absolutely agree with you. Compelling is when a writer can draw me in on a subject/genre that I'm not instinctively drawn to. Well said.

Janet Johnson said...

Hmmm . . . sounds like I'll just have to read it too. The wolves thing has held me off, too. And great point! Excellent example. :)

Carolyn V. said...

That is so true! My favorite books are the ones where I'm hooked! =)

Laurel said...

Great example--how we can be drawn into places we'd never want to go if we get to go with characters we come to care about and love.

Dawn said...

I am so glad you loved the book - and that you used it to illustrate compelling characters. Two of the most compelling I have ever read are absolutely Grace and Sam in Shiver. I'm getting Linger TODAY.

Talei said...

Good point! And great example, sometimes it happens, just like that.

Meredith said...

Oh, wow, I LOVED Shiver. You're right that hooking a reluctant reader is an excellent sign of a compelling character (and no, I'm not a big wolf fan, either!) Have fun reading Linger!

j.leigh.bailey said...

Shiver has been on my TBR pile for a while, but I keep putting it off. Maybe I'd better stop putting it off and find out why it's so compelling to everyone else. PEER PRESSURE--ACK! :D

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Hooking the reluctant reader. Whoa. That's an interesting thought, and it's what many teachers said about Harry Potter when it first came out. Kids were reading who never showed interest before.
Oh, and I agree with you about Shiver. And the jaw-dropping continues in Linger!

Ed Pilolla said...

your definition is better than dictionary dot com, for sure.

Elana Johnson said...

YES. You nailed it. Now if doing it were easier, we'd all be bestselling authors like Maggie S.

RaShelle said...

Vicki, I am so agreeing with you here. I loved Shiver, and I hate wolves too. But she created amazing, compelling characters. I loved the end of Shiver too. I thought it was one of the best book ending's ever. That's just my opinion though. LOL

Christine Fonseca said...

I LOVED that analogy...and dude, I wish I wrote that way. Ah, soon I hope..with practice!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great job! We are desperately awaiting the third book in the Deadly Little Secrets series... Totally hooked.

Margo Berendsen said...

Still laughing. Okay, so now I have to ask: which did you think was the most compelling character? Sam, Grace, Isabel, Beck?

Grace was a pale shadow to the other three, in my opinion, though she is the glue that holds the the story together.

I feel like a could dive into another analysis of that book, but I'll contain myself. Comments aren't supposed to be treatises!

Jackee said...

Good point, Vicki! They have to grab us by the throat and MAKE us care or we'll never get through it.

....Which is why I never made it through Twilight. I hated Bella. I could have handled the book if she wasn't the MC.

Have a great night!

Melissa said...

Wow.... I love your approach to this. Hooking even the most reluctant reader is the key. Shiver did this to me as well.

VR Barkowski said...

I kind of like wolves, but I don't want to read about them. That's why I've been putting off reading Shiver for MONTHS. Now, after reading your post, I want to drop everything and crack the spine. Not only have you written insightfully on compelling characters, but your post was compelling in itself. Nicely done, Vicki!

Lenny Lee! said...

hi miss vicki! i didnt ever read that book but i like what you said on hooking a reader even if its on something you dont much care about. i didnt ever think of that before. now im adding that to my writing notebook for being a good writer.
...hugs from lenny

Hannah Kincade said...

LOL, so true. It it's not your type of book and you're still hooked by the characters, well that's great compelling writing right there. :D

Jemi Fraser said...

Perfect! I don't usually read anything with werewolves or vampires or... in it, but I didn't have a clue what Shiver was about when I picked it up. I wouldn't have picked it up otherwise - and I would have missed a great read!

N. R. Williams said...

I like wolves as long as I'm at the zoo. Good post.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

DL Hammons said...

Like you said....great minds! The "reluctant reader"...I think you may have coined a new phrase!! :)

Lisa Potts said...

Great post. Love your blog and will be following.

Nicki Elson said...

Awesome post! It really shows the power of character. And thanks for the book rec.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Great post. Now I want to run out to the bookstore. :)

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I haven't read Shiver, but your experience sounds like it was a compelling book! Maybe I should check it out.

Heather Spiva said...

You're funny. :) Great post.
Now, to go read Shiver ...
-H

PS. Sorry. I'm just a LITTLE late getting to all the great "character" posts.