Characters Awarded With Honors

Hello, Katy Lee here. Some days when I sit down to write, I find I have lost my creativity and joy in the process. I doubt myself of why I am doing this and can put myself in a real funk if I don’t catch it in time. When I get like this I know it’s time to visit with an old friend. But I’m not talking about a living and breathing friend. I’m talking about the ones I have made between the pages of a book.

I read a lot, but every now and then, a story touches me so much that I award it with a place of honor. These favorite books are given a permanent home in the second drawer of my bedside table. I cherish them and keep them at my fingertips for when I need to call on them.


As a writer, I have asked myself what makes a book a keeper, and not only a keeper, but worthy of multiple rereads? Is it an extraordinary storyline with all the bells and whistles and thrilling plot twists? I’ll be honest, when I’m writing, I sometimes think it is.

But the books in my bedside table tell me differently. Most of the stories found in that second drawer are pretty simple. Nothing flashy. No surprise rabbits popping out of hats. No philosophical break-through to change the world.

Instead, when I reach for one of these books, it is the characters that I reach for. Characters who have left their mark on my heart in some way. They are old friends who I reach out to during down times. So important to me that I will stop my crazy schedule to visit with them, even though I already know what happens in the story. This tells me it’s not the story that keeps me coming back again and again.

It’s my friends. They remind me of why I write and refill me with the creativity and joy I need to press on.

The Unlocked Secret: I can stress so much about my stories. Maybe I think something is missing, or maybe I think I need to blow something up or kill off a character or throw a wrench into the mix to add intrigue and wow for the reader. But it is my rereads that tell me differently. They tell me that story line and plot twists are important, but not always as important as making sure my characters are bedside worthy.

Question: What characters/books have you awarded with honors?


30 thoughts on “Characters Awarded With Honors”

  1. Since I enjoy the action/suspense, too, Susan May Warren’s Team Hope series are books I’ve gone back to–great character development and thrills 🙂

    Love you duckie…reminded me of how much I enjoyed the years of reading YA classics to my kids like The Trumpeter Swan and Indian in the Cupboard. Maybe I ought to go back and read some of those again 🙂

    1. Hello, Sandra, Isn’t that duckie cute? My daughter gave it to me. As soon as she saw it, she knew it was me. 🙂

      I will check out Susan May Warren. Thanks for recommending her!

  2. I know what you mean, Katy. Both about the writing and what makes a book special. Great prose are just poetry unless I fall in love with the people in the story.

    I love Barbara Kingsolver books. Her characters are so well developed, they stay with me long after I’ve put the book down. I loved The Bean Trees and A Prodigal Summer. I’ve read them both repeatedly. Wonderful examples of beautiful prose and great characterization.

  3. Fun question, Katy!! Call me a hopeless romantic, but I have read Gone With the Wind too many times to count — and since I first read it at age 12 and am now way up in years, that’s a lot! — not to mention seen the movie umpteen times. From heart-breaking romance to rich history, it’s easy for me to see why GWTW is a Nobel prize winner because it sure is with me! 🙂


  4. The characters I seem to remember both are somewhat unlikable on first glimpse…Eloisa James’s hero from When Beauty Tamed the Beast, or Dominic from Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True. It’s the revelation of why that makes them complete, and changes our perception of them…so long as the answer is a good one. I agree with Paula; without a rich and believable (and tormented) character, I have no interest continuing on.

  5. I was just thinking about this! I loved Kevin and Molly from This Heart of Mine. I was just trying to pick apart what was it about that book that I loved so much,

  6. So true! My critique partner and I have been talking about what our 2012 goals are. We both agreed: To create memorable characters and a story with a soul. Lofty aspirations, but we’ll keep honing our craft until we get there.

    I have a stack of saved books, too, some from as far back as childhood. Funny how these characters become part of us.

  7. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read Velvet…hmmm, gotta go to book shelf…Velvet Angel by Jude Deveraux. I remembered the title after two steps and I NEVER even notice titles of romances. This is one of my all time favorites…Miles & Elizabeth’s story was one I had memorized in high school/college. I haven’t read it in a while because I’m in a pick-it-apart phase right now with my reading and I don’t want to spoil it in my memory. I also love Lynn Kurland’s characters…I reread her time travels whenever I don’t have a current book. I don’t start at the beginning, just flip to a random page and read from there. And the craziest thing happened to me today…I started reading my own book, The Cordovan Vault this morning. I was actually able to get into the story like a reader instead of falling into an editorial trap. That’s never happened to me before…it was fun!

    1. I do the same thing (Open to the middle of the book and start reading from there) It’s amazing how I can fall right into the story with no prompting.

      And Jude Deveraux was my first romance. I stole it from my mother. 😉

  8. I re-read passages from favorite books all the time before I start writing in ernest. I agree with earlier comments – characters are king! I like to study the word the author used, the tone they set and how they handle situations! It’s a lot of fun and gets me in the mindset I need to be in. Awesome post!!

  9. Heck Girl, you sure got a wonderful post out of your break! As much as I hate to admit it, it’s the heroes that I truly love to revisit. Hawk from Janet Daily’s “Night Way” made me want to be a romance writer, Malone from K Higgs “Catch of the Day” is pretty delicious and lets not forget Fr. Ralph De Bricassart from my all-time fave, “The Thorn Birds.”.

    Tormented men, each with their own cross to bear and while interesting to read, probably not somebody you’d actually want to live with. I’ve written a few myself and my criteria is: are the guys complex enough to make the women take a chance on something new? Stories need arcs and conflict but like you, sometimes I just want a man I can fall in love with. The story doesn’t have to be explosive, it can be quite simple, a la, John Hughe’s “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

    Many people live pretty tame lives but if an extraordinary character enters that staid existence and shakes things up, enhancing the quality of said life, they are unforgettable in their own way – and a story I never mind revisiting.
    Love the post!

      1. Katy, you MUST read the Shopaholic series! Becky Bloomwood is definitely an unforgettable character. You want to shake her silly (and cut up her credit cards !), then give her a hug and tell her you love her.

  10. Hi Katy,
    I’m a bookaholoic. I hoard them. I have shelves and shelves of books. I keep every one I read and often times reread many of them, depending on my mood. Probably explains why I don’t have an e-reader yet. Right now I’m enjoying Remember Me by Laura Moore. This past weekend I acquired a few new ones so my new read pile is growing.

  11. Katy, is that you in the first image, reading? What a great post. It’s true, some books are keepers, but mostly, parts of so many are keepers. So we have stacks and stacks of books. Tom re-reads often. But me…alas…I do not have time, I have trouble with only one book. They are there when I call. I feel fortunate to be able to shop in my own bookstore.

  12. Hi Katy, I’m a big fan of the Civil War era. I’ve read Gone With the Wind and North and South by John Jakes a number of times. I’m also love John Grisham’s books, The Street Lawyer and The Confession are some of my favorites.

  13. My reading time is so drastically curtailed these days, and my TBR pile is so high because of all the new and new-to-me authors I’ve been introduced to in the last couple of years, that I rarely reread anything other than a few classics a few times a year. Right now I’m rereading (I should say listening to in audio) Wuthering Heights and Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series, and I have Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White cued up on my phone. It isn’t that I haven’t loved many of the books I’ve come across recently. There’s just not enough time (hence the audio books so I can listen while I’m doing dishes or commuting).

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