Round Robin

Hullo again and welcome to June’s Round Robin which is about Characters. Robin, who sets up these posts, calls it a basic topic. It is a basic topic – but one might also refer to it as fundamental.

You can have the most wonderful plot in the history of fiction writing, but if you have to frogmarch your characters through it – it will not work.

In the beginning

So how do I go about developing them? I listen to their conversations. I used to write plays and for that I would put two characters in a room and listen in. Gradually, gradually, I begin to hear what they think needs saying. Fiction of course needs much more narrative and the conversations have to be embellished by surroundings. A pauper woman in Shoreditch is going to have different things to say about there being no food in the house, from a Duchess in Wiltshire.

Fiction writing also lacks a play producer, so it’s up to the writer to dress the characters. Perhaps that leads on to what the Duchess thinks about her dressmaker and the pauper about the rag-and-bone man.

I do spend time on it, but it is time during the writing process. I may know that my theme demands a type of heroine and a type of hero. As I explore what I want to tease out of the theme, I’m listening to the characters.

…and into maturity

What inspires the process of creating a character? Well, getting the next action or twist right, is very important. When I was writing Mariah’s Marriage, Mariah’s response to the countess’s revelation that Toby wanted to marry her, wasn’t the response I’d thought to type. As I typed, the girl’s reaction crystallised and when I read it over, I realised that the character had spoken and I needed to re-think that part of the plot and what happened next. An altogether satisfactory place to arrive at.

The other participants are listed below and despite having a teen at hand to consult, I’ve no idea why they’re appearing in miniature font. Comments on that or on how you create characters will be most welcome,



21 thoughts on “Round Robin

  1. You are so right – this is not a “basic” topic, but a critical one. If the reader doesn’t care about the character, they aren’t going to be interested in finding out what’s going to happen to them.


  2. It’s always so interesting to read about others’ writing processes. Especially liked what you said about characters and their surroundings – the pauper and the Duchess.


    • Hi Kate, thank you. I suppose I was thinking the duchess might go on to blame her staff whereas the pauper has to look to her circumstances, but I suppose she might also find someone to blame, too. Hmn! Anne


  3. “Frogmarch.” I had to smile. Many of my novels have a cowboy as a hero (what a mental picture your comment gave me) Yes, i agree. What fun would writing be, if the characters didn’t speak to us and show us the way?


    • Connie, I haven’t looked ‘frogmarch’ up. Will do that when I get a chance because you’ve made me wonder. Cowboy characters offer lots of scope – we Scots don’t really have an equivalent role. anne


  4. I’m so glad to hear a character’s reactions come to life for you in much the same way they do for me. Sometimes I have in mind one thing, and the character yanks me off in another.


  5. I think that when your character takes over, then you have done something right, and never mind if it messes your initial plot!


  6. I’ve never written a play script, but I love your idea of putting two characters in a room and listening to their conversation. I’ve begun work on the third book in my Berkeley Square Regency series, and will definitely give that a try. Thanks for that tip, Anne.


  7. Pingback: Round Robin | judyinboston

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