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 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.