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Empathy Works!

Hi Everyone!

I hope you had a nice week! A lot going on today around the blogosphere!

The wonderful and talented Elana Johnson has a fantastic post on what to blog about. Actually, there’s a whole week of posts that are fantastic, in fact two other bloggers have also taken on the subject; the uber awesome Jennifer Daiker & Alex Cavanaugh. Check it out, seriously good stuff on all their blogs. Elana also wants to see how different people post about one topic. I signed up.

I know. I almost never do that. But I’m curious…

So. The topic is compelling characters.

Hmm… what does that entail you may ask. Well, truthfully, it’s all relative. What is gripping and original to me may not be the same for you. But, we all know when something is fake, or when it seems put there for a reason. So…

How do we get compelling characters?
  • We use our voice, we make sure we know all the in’s and out’s of our characters.
  • We make sure they are Authentic. It’s next to impossible to have a compelling character if he/she is not authentic. So how do we make our characters authentic then?
  • We make sure every decision that our characters make are true to who they are and true to their pasts. This includes the face scrunches, dialogue, actions, internal monologue. The whole shebang, as it were.
This is what I do…

That’s my take on it ;o) What do you think? How do you get your characters to be compelling?

Wait.. there’s more!!

I knew it would happen one day. I’m in two places at once. I know. I bet you didn’t think it was possible without some sort of science experiment. The wonderful Dolly over at Writer Revealed invited me to share my writing journey! It’s filled with government conspiracies and alien abductions… don’t believe me? Check it out! Ha! See what I did there. Dolly, has a fantastic blog. Stay a while, check out the others in the series, too!

I hope I haven’t lost you yet. I know this post is long. We’re almost done, I promise!

I’ve made it to 200 followers! THANK YOU ALL! Wanna enter for a chance to win *80’s candy, a $10 B & N Gift Card, a 50 books to read before you die bookmark,ย a book of opening lines and LINGER by Maggie Stiefvater? Check it out Here! Yes, there’s a Vlog too, so you can see me make a fool of myself, oh and meet my kitty Zeus, too!

That’s about it. Hope you have a great weekend!


*candy not from actual 1980’s.
**photo taken by me of Mackinac Bridge on a beautiful September day

29 Responses to โ€œEmpathy Works!โ€

  1. Jen says:

    Not only were you cool enough to join the blogging experiment but you are also sharing your writing journey on another blog! I think I’m in heaven!

    Thanks for joining in the fun, I really appreciate you insight, and I love that you empathize with your characters! Very important!!! Great entry, and you’ll see that Elana will not have to lose her kidney (her words not mine) because so far all of the posts I’ve read have been unique!

  2. Such a good post! Authenticity is truly the key, I think. It comes through in the voice, mannerisms, actions. and you’re spot on with empathy, I think. If you can put yourself in your mc’s shoes, then you can make them authentic. Well said!!

  3. I’ve read about empathy on another blog today, but it was nothing like this. I love your process of writing through it to make sure it feels authentic. Great post!

  4. Voice and authenticity are important. I love the idea of the dinner scene!

  5. Authenticity is so important. Great points!

  6. Shallee says:

    I like what you said about writing through tough spots until you get the characters right. Thanks for sharing!

  7. This is a great post, Erica – AND I got to enter your contest! Woo-hoo! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. “Empathy” is some of the best advice I’ve seen today.

    Writing your characters into a dinner scene? Brilliant! I can just imagine the damage some of mine would do to the upholstery.

    Congrats on passing the 200 followers mark!


  9. Great post and congratulations of passing 200 followers! I think empathy is a key ingredient in creating loveable characters…

    I’m totally distracted by the question of what 80’s candy is???? LOL

  10. Lisa Potts says:

    I’m going to have to try the dinner scene. Sounds like it would be very enlightening.

    Congrats on 200…oops, I mean 215 followers!

  11. Empathy — so true. Great post. And congrats on 215 followers!

  12. Excellent post, I’m part of the experiment too. And now following you.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  13. I agree, the characters aren’t compelling if I cannot feel anything for them. Good or bad I want to know why I should care/or not. I don’t hate anyone without cause.
    I kept my Snape Fanclub going when all around me doubted. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Have to agree – the dinner scene idea is a great one! Can’t wait to try it!

  15. RaShelle says:

    I like the dinner idea. That would be fun! I’d like to see who of my characters turned into the raging alcoholic. I have a feeling I know though. =D

  16. I’m glad I found your blog. I agree that everything is relative, but even when it’s not it’s easy to know when something is sincere. Great idea with the dinner scene! Best of luck with your book ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Melissa says:

    Your insight is tangible in this post. I am now certain that I would be seduced by your characters.

    Excellent post.

  18. Thank you all! Off to read your entries ;o) Have a great weekend everyone!

  19. grats on your 200+ followers.
    Great post on making compelling characters. it’s been a great Blog Experiement!

  20. Great write up! Empathy and being authentic is very important!

    Good stuff!

  21. Good post! The point about characters being authentic is excellent. Fiction, at its heart, is all about telling the truth. The only way we’re ever going to be able to create something of lasting value, something that will resonate with others is if we’re gut-wrenchingly honest about our stories and our characters and their actions.

  22. Great post. And I’ll check out your contest. Congrats on the following.

  23. First time I’ve ever heard the dinner table setting – that’s a cool idea!

  24. “What is gripping and original to me may not be the same for you. But, we all know when something is fake, or when it seems put there for a reason.” – Excellent point! I give my characters realistic flaws to make them believable and authentic. Motivation is a driving force as well. Their wants/needs have to be compelling!

  25. arlee bird says:

    Congratulations on passing the 200 follower mark.

    Good points about your character development. Using these, I would say it’s probably good to think of your character as your best friend, or at least one of your friends. We all have friends that we like more then others and feel closer to– those should be your main characters. Then we have our circles of friends who we know a lot about, but maybe not everything. It should be the same in a story where you are creating characters. Also combining characters is not a bad idea.

    Good analysis.

    Tossing It Out

  26. I think the biggest part of authenticity is to work on separating yourself from your character and focusing on what they would do instead of what you would do. When I first started writing, many of my characters made my decisions…and sometimes they fell flat.

    Now that I’ve freed them they surprise me everyday and feel more like real people.

  27. OOH, I like the dinner scene idea! Very original, and you’re right, it would help flush out problems with your characterization.

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