Monday, June 9, 2014

Character Twists or Twisted Characters?

Playing with twists that are more character- than plot-related, can be a lot of fun--both to write and to read. Nobody wants a stereotypical character--too predictable and uninteresting. So add a twist. We don't like wacky surprises where characters don't fit their role, either. Unless the writer builds in the plausibility for it. Creating a mash-up of believability and freshness isn't as hard as one might think. Like the burly cop with the heart of a teddy bear or the little old lady who lectures her would-be purse snatcher. The right situation can bring out new qualities or strengthen weak ones. 
Start with the right character for his/her role. Don't use the typical character mold. Do keep some choices logical. Sometimes the differences are subtle.  

Spice things up with a twist. How? Think about what the reader expects your character to do, then change that reaction or have them go in a different direction. Not too often--maybe a couple times in the story. We want a fun character twist, not frustrated readers. Give readers what they expect, but not in the way they expect it. Simply make things worse. Reveal a secret the character is hiding. Or use the admired character to end up as the villain (think explorer Charles Muntz in the movie UP). It's a classic twist to turn someone into a twisted character. And readers love it when done well.

 Take a character that hinted at growth from his experiences, but suddenly we see the new coat of paint.

 Which 'character' fits better as a cowboy? An executive? Put that character into an opposite setting and see the new reaction. 

When brainstorming for new ideas for your story, look at one of your characters as a way to make the plot more interesting. A new analysis of your characters could spark your creativity and keep you on track. Keep chuggin' along and start doing the twist!

The new-to-me blog of the week comes from last week's blog tour list. Head over to for book reviews from nearly any genre and an occasional post from one of Sandra Stiles' middle grade students.


Donna K. Weaver said...

A lot of great ideas here. :D

kbrebes said...

Very nice, Renae. Guess what? I'm at the SLC airport. I'm headed home after having attended the Indie conference, which was very good.

Renae Mackley said...

Thanks, Donna.
Kathleen, have to share the deets, girl!