#LoveOzLit: Tony Park on characterisation & planning

Tony Park on the worst advice he received on characterisation

#LoveOzLit: Characterisation

Recently, I’ve been reading books and writing reviews that focused on strong main characters. They’re all different: different ages, gender and situations entirely. But, they’ve all resonated with me because they’re complicated characters, with authors who weren’t afraid to make them unlikeable.

Which, in turn got me thinking about how they could be different, about the different choices authors could have made in planning to reach these characters and that in turn got me thinking about characterisation and:

The worst advice an author received about characterisation

That was the most recent #LoveOzLit question to the authors that are part of the project, and Tony Park’s response above, points out that as much as planning is everything when it comes to writing, it can be a hindrance as well.

For one, it’s bloody hard – plotting several characters’ everything, basically, even before you start writing and put your characters in the situations your plot demands of them. Second, and I know I’m guilty of this sometimes, it’s hard to let go of a plan and what a character should be as a consequence. If I’ve spent all that time planning, there’s a part of me that’s loathe to let go of the time, effort and care I’ve taken into making that plan for the character.

Broad strokes work the best, giving you an idea of where you want your character to go, but still leaving things flexible if you change your mind.

What is the worst advice you’ve ever had about characterisation?


  • Annette says:

    I think the worst advice was probably that characters have to be likeable – because as you’ve pointed out, the most interesting books have characters who aren’t all good and who aren’t all bad, they’re shades of grey. Anton, one of the characters in Siege was like that – and yet I kept reading. In fact if the characters were all going to do the right thing all of the time, the book would have seemed predictable and at times boring. Instead it was full of suspense! RE not planning fully, I think different writers have different methods. What works for one author – TP – might not work for another. ???

    • Verushka says:

      You’re right, that’s one that drives me nuts. But, there’s still a lot of that around — do you think it’s genre specific? Sometimes I do, but other times I read something outside of my usual crime/urban fantasy genre and I see that all sorts of authors can writer too-likeable characters. I’ve had many a time when I wished some characters would just yell or get angry instead of accepting things in certain plots.

      And yup, totally — every author is different, and there’ll be more POVs in the quotes in the series to come!

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