Thursday, August 6, 2009


I know I usually write about humor, but this time I just had to blog about an author who I admire named Georgette Heyer. She lived and wrote from the early 1900's to the 1970's and her specialty was regency romances. I love her books because they are clean and beautifully written, most especially the vivid characterization of her main characters. Her characters are so full of life they just pop out of the pages at you. You literally fall in love with them. I have been trying to study her works to find out why this is, and I think that I have discovered several reasons.

1. They are fallible- Her characters have faults and plenty of them. It is so refreshing to read about 'real' people, especially as they struggle in a time when it wasn't okay to be 'real'.

2. The characters keep us guessing- The characters in her books are always doing something wierd for some reason that you never find out until the end.

3. They grow- Georgette is an expert at showing how a character grows and changes from the beginning to the end of the story.

4. Her character's dialogue is witty and fun and full of Characterization- Some of the dialogue in her books are riotous in their humor and Characterization, for example in her novel "Frederica" a young child who's about to live with a Marquis who has fallen in love with his sister asks him, "Would it be all right if you built me a workshop if I promised not to blow anything least very much?"

4. She shows, rather than tells- When you read this passage from one of her books called, Devil's Cub you will see what I mean:

"The man in the coach drew his right hand out of his pocket at last. There was an elegant silver-mounted pistol in it, still smoking. The gentleman threw it on to the seat beside him, and crushed the charred and smouldering portion of his greatcoat between very long white fingers."

You can just feel from this passage how smooth, cold, and emotionless this man is. And the best part is we get to read about how he grows from this cold emotoinless state and how he got there. Georgette is wonderful at not letting out these details too early and keeping us in suspense.

If you want to improve your characters and make them more vivid I highly suggest reading a few of Georgette Heyer's novels. I have found that by studying a master's work, I gain many insights that make my writing better.


JoAnn Arnold said...

I think I'll take your advice and do just that. Actually I learned some important tidbits just reading your blog.

Jillayne Clements said...

Are you going to give away a copy of your book? If you are, enter me in the drawing. :)

Jolynn said...

I like to write children's stories. Thanks for the advice.