What makes a good character? by Valya Dudycz Lupescu (permission to post from author)
A Journal of Character
"A good character is one that makes me forget they only live within the confines of their book. Their world, their experiences, no matter how unlikely, are as tangible as my own while I follow their tale. Bridget Jones made me laugh, Philip Carey made me cringe, Esther Greenwood evoked my deepest empathies, Dean Moriarty challenged my notion of outrageous, Aureliano Buendia was every misguided patriarch I've ever known, and Celie made me believe that good things do come to everyone at some point."
~ Jarucia Jaycox Nirula, Fiction Editor
"A memorable character reflects internal change in response to external events. Even if a character is unsympathetic or foreign to the reader, the one thing we all have in common is conflict in our lives. A character who struggles with a familiar conflict is relatable. Aesop is renowned worldwide for his Fables, where in the end the characters are subject to the moral of the story. To create an unforgettable tale, give your character a resolution to their conflict, show that they’ve grown, and teach or remind your readers something about themselves."
~ Melissa Conway, Creative Nonfiction Editor
"What makes a character to me is that I can feel their emotions and see things through their eyes. I love a character that I can get emotionally attached to and care what happens to them during the story."
~Vicki King, Fiction Editor
"Above all, I have to be able to believe in the character. But also the character needs to live and breathe through the words on the paper and touch me in some way, whether it be good or bad. "
~ Meg Write, Creative Nonfiction Editor
"To me, a good character is simply one you find yourself thinking about long after you've closed the book. One you forget isn't real, who you incorporate into your real-life thoughts and ramblings if only momentarily -- who makes you wonder, 'What is he doing now? or What ever happened to her' -- and it takes a second or two before you realize what you've done. A good character is one who tempts you to pick up the book and peek in on something she said or did or felt one more time, even though the story is over. One you can not only feel or smell, but one who helps you to feel or smell the air and space around them. One who you quote in the future, or who takes you intimately on their journey with them. "
~ Gae Polisner, Fiction Editor
"A good character is malevolent and pure, honest and devious, bombastic and humble, confident and unsure. He will always behave the way he is supposed to behave, and he'll never change just to serve the plot. In other words, a good character is a human being."
~ James Noll, Creative Nonfiction Editor
"What makes a great character? Dimension. A great character is good and bad, loves and hates, strives and fails, and does so with passion and integrity. Portraying a multidimensional character is the loftiest goal of a writer."
~ Tom Gill, Poetry Editor
"Compelling characters on a journey of discovery:
Good stories move from a land of words that jumps off the page to a place of discovery. But to get there you have to care about the characters on the journey. Readers care; when we care. When real emotions come through in our characters, they resonate as authentic."
~ Julie Ann Shapiro, Flash Fiction Editor
"To me, a well-drawn character carries the narrative. Absent of this and the story is dead. The protagonist has to be believable, multi-dimensional, complex, someone to which a reader can and want to relate. When I read, I want to inhabit the character, feel his pain, his happiness, his fears. I want to see what he sees, smell what he smells. I want to learn from him and view the world from his prism. In other words, the character has to form an emotional bond with me and stand out within the pages of the story."
~ Enrico Antiporda, Fiction Editor
"A good character seems real, like they might live down the street. You might begin thinking of them as a friend, or even as a part of yourself. You can see the world through their eyes, and their emotions feel real. A great character grows and changes as they encounter new and different situations; they are not stagnant, but rather continually evolve."
~ Karen Zabalaoui, Drama Editor
"If you don’t know them on some level, you want to meet them. They’re generally purpose-driven, even if that is simply to find a purpose. They’ve overcome obstacles and no matter what’s thrown at them, they’re going to try and conquer. They may not always succeed, but they’re smart enough not to make the same mistakes twice.
They’ve got a set of values and rules for themselves. Even if that rule means ‘you can’t turn your back on this person,' you can count on the character for that.
They’re never ‘pure’ anything, but whatever their orientation, they’ll give you paper cuts turning pages to find out what is going to happen to them next. "
~ Rebecca Kyle, Senior Creative Nonfiction Editor
© 2009 Valya Dudycz Lupescu Contact Me
Issue Pre-Release Party
10 years ago