Characters That Leap Off the Page

When people talk to me about my books, certain comments stand out:

  • “I get to play Latisha when Prisoners of the Williwaw is made into a movie.”
  • “Why don’t you write another book about Frank Villa? I really liked him. (Prisoners of the Williwaw)
  •  “That Pilar, she was one courageous woman.” (Veto)
  •  “I really liked Dino Mandaro. The guy just leapt off the page.” Beta reader’s comment on Delaney’s Hope.
  •  And a quote I will never forget about my autobiography, Once A Priest: “You know, Ed, I think, your wife, Kathy is the hero of that book.”


Why is it that certain characters jump off the page and come alive for the reader? What’s the secret? Some writers are great at this. People can’t wait for Diana Gabaldon’s next book to find out what her characters are up to.

Perhaps it goes back to the old debate about character and plot. Which is most important for the writer? Does plot comes out of character, or is it the other way around? The trouble comes with genre fiction where the plot is more important. What if the female hero in your romance wants to be a scientist instead of getting married? What if the hero of your spy novel wants to grow orchids?

As we get to know our characters better, perhaps they won’t go along with our plans for them.

What’s your opinion? What makes a character come alive?


2 responses to “Characters That Leap Off the Page

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