~characters who impact and Roh's Character Contest #1

Don’t you love it when a special character in a story refuses to leave your thoughts, even after the story is done?

I recently met one named Weyland in a short story titled “Unicorn Tapestry” by Suzy McKee Charnas.

We get to know Weyland through his therapist, Floria as she begins treatment on who she assumes is a delusional patient. A staid, aging college-professor, he maintains his distance from Floria with a cold formality. But as this spare and intense man reveals the chilling details of his life, Floria begins to question her initial diagnosis. She becomes more and more unsettled by her mysterious patient as he nimbly lays waste to her attempts to unravel his delusions. Their dance with words eventually leads to a dance with death in a spine-tingling conclusion. The end is not quite what we anticipate and leaves the reader (at least this one) thinking about it long after it’s over.

Weyland and his ‘outsider’ existence haunted me enough that I read the story twice. I visited the website of author Suzy McKee Charnas, then wrote to her to tell her of Weyland’s impact on me, and how I have a similar character (Nicolas from Watcher) who haunts me as well. She was kind enough to answer and discuss Weyland, and encouraged me with my writing.

Characters are what keep us reading. There are millions of readers out there who fell in love with Edward and Bella and went on to devour the rest of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. There are millions of others who couldn’t wait to for the next J.K.Rowling to learn what was going to happen to Harry Potter and his friends.

Well-developed characters are what I love, and what I strive for in my writing. Character development is an ongoing topic among writers and lately has been a subject of discussion on several blogs by friends in the Fresno SciFi and Fantasy Writers (FSFW) group.

Something else my friends have been doing in the blogosphere is holding contests in which the winner receives a copy of a recommended book.

I’ve been thinking about this.

And here’s what I’ve decided to do:

I’m going to hold a series of contests based on characters. Each contest will be slightly different, but they’ll all revolve around characters. I’ll be holding them every 3-4 weeks, so stay tuned to this blog.

Here’s the guidelines for Roh’s Character Contest #1:

Most readers have a list of favorite characters from stories they love. I know who mine are — I want to hear about yours.

Comment about one or more of your favorite characters and what books they are from. Each person commenting will receive one entry. The winner will be determined by a random drawing.

There’s a SECOND chance to win as well! It’s also an opportunity to stretch your literary muscles.

Describe your favorite character in your own words and what impact this character has had on your writing, or even on your life. You must include the title of the story, book, or series, along with the author’s name.

Word limit: 198 words or less (1+9+8=18, 1+8=9. I’m a nine freak, remember?).

Check out my three paragraphs above on Weyland for an example (and yes, they total exactly 198 words).

Your entry will be judged on both word craft and strength of argument. In other words, CONVINCE me. Tell me what it is about this character and its effect on you in a way that will compel me (and others) to go buy the book and read it.

Bonus points: If your word count total is a ‘nine’ (the digits add up to nine or a mulitple of nine), you will receive a second entry into the random drawing.


For the random drawing, the prize will be a gift certificate from Fictionwise for an e-book of the Nebula award-winning Unicorn Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas.

For the character description, the prize is a brand-new softcover copy of Suzy McKee Charnas’ book, The Vampire Tapestries AND a $10 gift card for Borders or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice). The prizes for this portion of the contest are restricted to residents of the continental U.S. only.


This contest has been extended. The last day to enter is June 27, 2010 Saturday, July 17 (a nine-day, of course). The random winner will be drawn the following day and notified via email. The character descriptions will be judged during the remainder of the week. The winner will be selected and notified via email by July 6, July 26, 2010.

14 thoughts on “~characters who impact and Roh's Character Contest #1

  1. Sign me up!

    I think that Katniss from Hunger Games would have to be one of my favorite characters.

    Katniss is a young girl, 13 I believe (when we first meet her). She lives in a world where food is scarce and possessions are few. She breaks the law every day, hunting on “government land,” so that her family won’t starve.

    In her world, every year there is a lottery. Not a good one, though. This lottery takes the winners and forces them into a game of death, where 20+ enter, but only one will survive. When her sister is drawn for the lottery, she steps in her place, dooming herself to death.

    Her bravery, intelligence, honor and loyalty are hard to find these days, and Katniss exudes them all. This character is so strong, so likable, so alive, that just thinking about her make me want to write!

  2. Characters WHO impact …

    I can’t choose one. White Lotus. Maurice Conchis. Cugel or Melancthe or Madouc or Tibbet or Wingo or (no, get me off Vance). Teela Brown or J.B. Corbell. Manuel Pig-Tender. Samwise, Gollum, and Éowyn. Gareth and Scarlet. The Mule. … Bertie Wooster. 🙂 … I’ll just stop there, point made.

    Anyway, what would I do if I won another book? I’d have to give it away.

    1. Arrgghh – I love displaying my ignorance online!

      Duly noted – ‘that’ has now been changed to ‘who’

      And, uh, I hate to tell you, but you haven’t escaped the dreaded book-winning yet! You are entered into the drawing by virtue of opening your mouth, er, commenting on this post! 🙂

  3. In many ways, I like helping people accomplish what they desire as much as perusing my own dreams, but I know the sidekick isn’t as popular as the hero, the media tech as known as the speaker, the drummer as apparent as the vocalist, the programmer as acknowledged as the corporate owner, or the fundraiser as acclaimed as the researcher making a breakthrough. Samwise Gamgee of Lord of the Rings by Tolkien showed me there is honor in that type of loyalty and service. Sam’s relentless dedication to his friend, Frodo, and his friend’s goal, destroy the Ring, goes beyond inspiring, it is real. I can see it in others, and I hope others can see it in me. Sam helps me see the payoff when it feels like I am carrying a load unnoticed.

  4. This character that got me hooked on Mercedes Lackey: Vanyel Ashkevron, specifically, Magic’s Pawn.
    Vanyel is born to privilege in a world that, like our own, values money, titles, power, and the observance of piety, a world where magic’s existence are considered at best apocryphal, and at worst, evidence of demonic influence.
    Vanyel doesn’t fit into his family: he is gay and possesses great magical potential. Falling in love with one of his teacher aunt’s students, Vanyel also discovers that his uniqueness, once limiting, now portends of almost incalculable power. The fact that he is gay is almost irrelevant in light of what he can DO.
    Despite tragic consequences that befall his newfound beloved, Vanyel becomes a heroic figure helping others, using his magical abilities to defend king and country, at great personal cost.
    I found great personal meaning in reading through Vanyel’s journey. His acceptance of his sexual identity, despite all of society’s disapproval, is testament to how difficult such acceptance is in our own society. Mercedes Lackey’s character of Vanyel is not the only gay lead character in fantasy/sci fi, but he is absolutely one of the most memorable, and a personal inspiration for me.

  5. One of my favorite characters is Ella of Ella Enchanted. I love that she is so quick on her feet and good with languages. And I love that her driving motivation in the end is to save the person who matters most to her, at the cost of her own happiness. I hope never to be tested on that personally, but it’s a strength I hope I have.

    1. Janet, Earl, Chris, Ryan – your entries are awesome and on the judging list (and on my list of books to check out!).

      Oh, and you each have an entry in the comment list as well – Except for Ryan. His word count is 135 (1+3+5=9), so he gets two entries!

      Thanks for entering!

  6. Gee, I thought you were going to participate in the BAD BOY blogfest. I had hoped to read your entry. Rats.

    Come check mine out and see what you think. Have a great Sunday, Roland

    1. Oh, I’m planning on participating, but we have been at a family wedding all weekend. I’ll post by midnight tonight.
      And yeah, I have the perfect bad boy in mind.

  7. Hey there Roh,
    Thankx for linking my ‘fest on your blog! I’m looking forward to your entry!

    One of my all-time favourite characters is Simon Mooncalf from Tad William’s Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy (actually there’s four books but the last two are Part One and Part Two…I still think of it as a trilogy).

    When we meet him, he’s a lanky, half-grown boy with mostly nonsense on the mind, daydreaming when he should be doing his chores, skulking about the Hayholt (that’s the King’s Castle) to catch frogs and watch grasshoppers. He’s the despair of his guardian, the Mistress of Chambermaids, but he does have something of a haven with Doctor Morgenes, the resident scientist/historian/medical man.

    As the story progresses, we get to watch Simon grow up, or rather grow into the roles, the tasks, thrust upon him by chance and fate. As his world falls more and more into darkness, Simon’s character starts shining, although as the reader follows him along, it’s almost imperceptible. He still has nonsense in his very bones, and doesn’t lose all of the awkward teenager we first meet, not even right at the end.

    His story is a classic Hero’s Journey, echoing the stories Simon loves so much in the first few chapters.

    And yes, that’s 198 words exactly.

    ; )

    I’ll also link to your site on my Blogfests&Contests page.

    1. Great recommendation, Tessa! I’ve wanted to read Tad Williams, but just haven’t gotten around to it. I’ll now move it up my list of ‘need to reads.’

      Thanks for entering the contest. Your comment qualifies you for: one writing contest entry and two random drawing entries (1 for commenting, one for a word count of 198: 1+9+8=18=9!)

      And thanks for adding my contest to your site!

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