Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Writing Down the Bones: Building Believable Characters

Another wonderful handout for you guys to hear about. This one was done by Leila Davis. The hand out was done in 1994 so some of her examples are a bit outdated but the message is still there. Here's my twist on it.

Give Your Character a Tag: one word or phrase that describes your character. Are they lonely? Clutzy? Too tall? Can you work it into your description of your character? Or into dialogue? In the books I write for melange I wrote a short mermaid story where my heroine was klutzy. She did things like trip and spill coffee on her boss, bang her head when she went to climb into her car - then she meets a man who has never walked on legs before making her klutziness look like childs play.

Give Your Character Emotional Baggage: This is something from their past. You don't want to do data dump but you can weave it through your story to give you character more depth. In my current SF/Futuristic erotic romance series The Vespian Way, Heather was an orphan and raised by the government. She was smarter, and faster than everyone else. She also had a devise in her back that doctors couldn't explain. I start hinting early by calling her an ice princess, and explain slowly as she meets Storm, the hero.

Give your characters a secret: Now understand I weave humor into my stories. I don't write the deep dark hero who has something in his past he doesn't want the rest of the world to know, but in my current series Heather has a talent that her and Storm keep hidden from the rest of the planet. And it doesn't have to be something awful. Your hero could be the class clown because of the way the kids used to mercilessly tease him when he was a child. Your heroine, the successful business woman. could keep the fact that she spent some of her childhood bouncing from one foster home to another and swore that would never happen to her children which is why she pushes so hard to be successful.

Make Your Character Care Deeply About Something: This is normally something pretty easy to do. Normally you can tie it to the theme of the story. Like in my series there is a problem with the birthrate, something they are trying hard to fix. It is the reason Heather and Storm meet and one of the reasons she is hunted in the series. She will have the cure through a child and people want to control that child. An example you can Taking those two secrets in the previous paragraph you can have your hero stand up against bullying, your heroine work with making sure foster kids get a good education. There's all kinds of things you can do here.

Describe Your Character in Interesting Ways: We all have been taught that we need to describe our characters, but does it always need to be just physical attributes. Sometimes it is that personality quirk that will grab your reader.

I hope these help a little. I love finding these handouts and reading them. Some are gold and stand the test of time. This one is one of them. This gives you another way to help make that character more three dimensional.

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