A day in the life of a writer: character development

“A man who won’t die for something is not fit to live.”
— Martin Luther King Jr. (The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.)

I’ve been struggling with my heroine’s over-arching goal. I keep tangling external goals with internal ones. My critique partner pointed out that the one I had was too “do-able,” adding, “I think Diana needs something that she wants desperately – something that is urgent – life or death or loss that if she loses it, her life will never be the same (or someone she cherishes will never be the same) something that she will walk on water to obtain if that’s what she needs to do.”

So. A character who won’t die for something isn’t fit to live, either, and that rings true for me. Characters with something huge at stake engage the reader immediately.

While I was looking for inspiration I came across some quotes that resonate, and I’m pinning them up while I write so they’ll remind me of key character traits.

Diana, my heroine, is a frustrated artist (painter) who runs a gun shop with her mother. A quote for her is from Bernard Shaw:

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
And these: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”— Maya Angelou

“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”— Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

“One must pay dearly for immortality; one has to die several times while still alive.”— Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

My bad guy, as yet un-named, has this one:

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
— Abraham Lincoln

Mark, my hero, has these:

“In the years afterward, I fled whenever somebody began to understand me. That has subsided. But one thing remained: I don’t want anybody to understand me completely. I want to go through life unknown. The blindness of others is my safety and my freedom.” — Pascal Mercier

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”— Confucius

Ultimately, this one will apply: “I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” — Maya Angelou

One that will apply throughout the story:


“The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.”— Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

And this one reminds me of different ways to illustrate character:

“Your handwriting. The way you walk. Which china pattern you choose. It’s all giving you away. Everything you do shows your hand. Everything is a self-portrait. Everything is a diary.”— Chuck Palahniuk

2 Commentsto A day in the life of a writer: character development

  1. Jennifer Roland says:

    Hi. Thanks for visiting me at Pop Culture Curmudgeon. I’d be happy for you to link to the contest announcement and then to the contest when it posts on Friday.

  2. Jennifer Roland says:

    BTW, If you would like to participate in a group blog about romance writing, shoot me an email at rolandmediaservices AT gmail DOT com. (from this post: http://jenniferroland.wordpress.com/2009/04/29/power-of-fellowship/)

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