Monday, September 15, 2008

Characters Part 2

The last time I wrote on the craft, I described how to bring characters more to life by giving them desires. But even simple, one-dimensional characters have desires. The villain wants the money at any cost. The baker must deliver his delectable creation to the wedding on time. They have desires just as much as any other character you’ve ever seen. What makes yours unique, different, and yet real to life?

Let’s go a step further. Once you’ve set up the desires, next you need to add some layers. Just like an onion, we humans are more than what appears on the surface. We have different facets to our person which make up who we are as a whole. In that same fashion, fictional characters should emulate people in the real world. They should have some of those same traits, likes, habits and even annoyances that we see day in and day out.

I’m currently writing my third NovelTea book. As I’m writing this one as a cozy mystery, I had the opportunity to create several secondary characters…ahem…suspects. Now, they could come across as merely archetypes if I didn’t add some human layers and complexity to them. Every character has a history and that history affects who they are and how they behave. The reader will never know all of their past but you, the all-knowing author, do. Armed with that knowledge, you can make your characters deeper and more interesting.

The heroine in my NovelTea books (Juliet Truesdale) is a bored bookseller who at the onset of the series yearns for more excitement in her life until the entrance of a handsome, mysterious stranger turns her world upside down. The idea has possibilities (right?) but what makes Juliet different from any other heroine in that position? First of all, Juliet is an Everyman character. She lacks the experience of navigating in this world of intrigue and spies. In the first book, especially, we the readers are along for the ride as Juliet fumbles around trying to figure out her way. People relate to her because they feel for her predicament and believe they might react similarly. She isn't a superhero and she even brings up that point to herself. Juliet is an enigma especially to the hero, Grant. She is sweet and naïve yet at times incredibly wry and suspicious. The best part of Juliet, at least to me the author, is that she is a dynamic character. Throughout the whole of the series, we will see her grow and become something completely different from where she started in book 1 and yet still resemble that bored bookseller at the beginning.

So as you sit down to continue work on characterization, find ways to make your characters distinctive from any other. Add those layers. Think about real people that you know. They have characteristics that at times may even be in direct opposition. They might love classical music and yet play professional football. It appears in opposition and yet it gives them depth and makes them appealing. Bringing in these facets, develops your character more fully into something memorable and realistic—something to stay with your reader long after they’ve closed the book.

Read more about my best-selling NovelTea books at the NovelTea Blog. A Night of NovelTea and NovelTea Next Door are both available at The Wild Rose Press.

Thanks for reading--Now get writing!


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