Character Development (Part 7)

Hello, darlings! ^_^

It’s the final part, folks! 😉 Thanks for hanging in there.

So, why should your character have secrets?

Character Development (Part 7)Because, if they don’t, there’s nothing to keep the reader reading. Secrets add suspense. Suspense keeps the readers wanting more.

As the story goes on, the questions rack up. Why is so-and-so doing that? Are they telling the truth? Why did they lie? You slowly give out the answers, bit by bit. Things start to fall in place and make sense.

Essentially, secrets add an element of suspense, intrigue, and mystery to your novel.

Now, not all secrets are something people hide from other people. They can simply be the reason behind why a certain character acts the way they do.

But what secrets could you incorporate into your novel? Let’s take a look at some examples other writers have used. 🙂

The following may include spoilers!

1) The Hunger Games by Susan Collins

  • Katniss is angry with her mother. Why? Because, when her father died, she shut her children out. This also explains why Katniss is so focused on being the provider. Why she is a fighter. It also explains why she’s so good with the bow and arrow and thinks strategically.

2) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

  • Mysterious things happen around Mr. Rochester’s house. A man is found with severe wounds on his body in the middle of the night. A fire starts in Mr. Rochester’s room. Why? Because he had been married previously. This poses several problems to the plot line of the story.

3) Dracula by Brahm Stoker

I only started this, but never finished it.

  • A man goes to stay at Count Dracula’s house. The Count is a strange man and there is no reflection when he looks in the mirror. Why? Because he’s a vampire.

4) The Secret of Moonacre (film based on The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge)

  • Maria Merryweather’s father held a secret. A secret Maria didn’t discover until he died and she was sent to live with her uncle, who appears to be a pretty strange man. Her father was broke, but left her a book that contained the secret to saving Moonacre. It keeps the viewers wondering what the secret was and how would Maria save the place.

I hope those examples help to illustrate somewhat the idea I’m trying to convey…

If not, or if you’d like to do some more reading on this topic, click here. 🙂

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Now, I’ll be gone for the next two weeks (possibly with no internet access *shrieks are heard in the background, lightening cracks behind an abandoned castle on a dark night, and a lone wolf howls in the distance*). You’ll be in my prayers and I hope I’m in yours. This may be quite difficult for me as I’ve never been away from home that long without family.

God bless!

Rana

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Character Development (Part 6)

Sorry for the radio silence, darlings. I’ve been busy finishing up Spanish 1 (which I should be done this week!) and editing The Reset and dealing with life. I hope things have been going well for you. ❤

Character Development (Part 6)Today’s next to last part in the Character Development concerns uniqueness.

It is so important for each and every one of your characters to have a voice of their own. No two of your friends are exactly the same and neither should any of your characters be the same.

Last time, we discussed how you might want to consider discovering your characters’ personality types. The reason behind that was so you can bring them to life — know their quirks. But you’ll notice how, though two people might have the same personality types, they’re still very different.

For instance, I’m an introvert but I’m very friendly. I have no problem going up to a stranger and talking to them depending on the situation, etc. Now another introvert might have anxiety attacks over that sort of thing.

We’re all unique. Your characters should be too. Give them all different quirks. Give them different motives toward the same goal.

If two of your characters play the same role or sound similar, cut one. If you don’t, your readers might begin to get confused. I believe it was K.M. Weiland of Helping Writers Become Authors who said that if you don’t distinguish them, they’ll compete for the reader’s affection. It’s possible that, if they’re not written well, they could even cause the reader to not care.

You need the reader to care in order to keep reading. Every character needs to serve a purpose.

In The Lord of the Rings, every member of the Fellowship serves a different purpose and each is unique. There’s one elf, one dwarf, one wizard, two humans, and four hobbits. The two humans: Aragorn and Boromir are distinguished by the roles they play and their personalities. The four hobbits are distinguished by their voices and roles. The only two that get confusing are Merry and Pippin because they seem to have the same interests and mannerisms.

So just be aware of that and try to distinguish your characters for a lovable and memorable story. Often times, the characters make the book worth reading. 😉

I hope this helps, beautiful. 🙂

God bless!

Rana

 

Character Development (Part 5)

I’m an INTJ/ISTJ, but I really think that all depends on what mood I’m in. 😉 It kind of helps to understand why I do certain things or act a certain way. Keep in mind, however, that I don’t let those personality types define me. And, speaking of personality types, that’s tonight’s topic. Gosh, I sound like a t.v. show host. 😛

determine your characters personality typeBut let’s get to the point. Mirriam Neal told me a while back that she liked to determine her character’s personality types early on in the writing process. That’s what I remember anyway. 😉 I could be wrong.

Regardless, it’s worth a shot to determine it. It can set a sort of guideline for how your character should act.

You wouldn’t want a generally quiet, analytic,  seemingly emotionless person to start screaming at someone when they cut a finger while chopping up some veggies, you know? It wouldn’t make sense and would be out of character because they would know it was no one’s fault but theirs and it wouldn’t be a huge deal anyway. Unless, of course, they lost the member.

And you wouldn’t want a very organized person to accidentally misplace a very important file.

Knowing your character’s personality type really helps keep them in character.

So how do you determine their personality type? I just go take a personality test from the perspective of the character in question. 🙂

Here are a few links you might find helpful:

> The Sixteen Personality Types

> Free Personality Test

> Jung Typology Test

> Myers Briggs Test

Let me know how this works out for you. 🙂 Maybe research and write down the different quirks that come with being whatever personality type your character falls under and keep it by your writing place so you can refer to it whenever you find yourself wonder what on earth Suzy should do in this type of situation.

God bless!

Rana

Character Development (Part 3)

Hello, Beautiful (or Handsome)!

I’ve seen blog posts on lies heroes can believe, but always wondered why. Why should they believe a lie? Maybe you were wondering the same thing. Or maybe you’ve already got the answer. Either way, this post discusses why they need to believe a lie. 🙂

Why?

Because they need to change. They need to grow throughout the story (character development, remember?). They are developing as a character. In life, there’s Your character needs to believe a lie.always the law of cause and effect. One thing happens and another occurs as a result.

I was doing research to find a good answer to this and found Helping Writers Become Authors. K.M. Weiland has a ton of great stuff on her blog. In her post on Character’s Ghosts, she discussed why characters needed to believe lies. And I’m sitting here going, “ah, perfect!” And angels are singing in the background. If you want to see what she has to say (and I guarantee it’s more intelligent than anything that will come out of my mouth, or fingers in this case), head on over there. 😉

And keep in mind that your whole novel is focused on that character’s journey. They have to grow. Otherwise, there’s not going to be much, if any, reason for your reader to enjoy the story. We have to relate to the hero and know there’s hope for us. If they can overcome their struggle, I might be able to overcome mine.

Also, because the lie is something created from the MC’s past, it can add suspense and mystery to your story. Characters are like people. You don’t know all about them on the first page. You get to know the gradually. Everyone’s got some secret that would break your heart and that’s the one we discover bit by bit throughout the story. The lie can keep it going.

Examples (I saw Spider-Man 2 last night, so SPOILERS!):

1) Harry Osborn from Spider-Man 2: He felt that his father didn’t love him. As a result, he felt thrown away which made him sensitive to others. He believed Spider-Man could save him, and, when Spidey didn’t, he felt betrayed.

2) Norman Osborn from Spider-Man 2: He thought he was doing what was right for Harry by sending him away and sacrificing the boy’s childhood. This screwed up Harry’s mind to turn him into the Green Goblin.

3) Bruce Wayne from Batman: Bruce thought that killing his parents’ murderer would make him feel better. He believed that justice and revenge sometimes the same. This fueled his anger, which he later channeled into creating the Batman which would fight crime.

4) Rapunzel from Tangled: She believed that Gothel was her mother and really did only want what was best for her. When she ran away with Flynn, however, she realized that the world wasn’t as bad as Gothel had scared her into believing and had really been robbed of her childhood.

5) Many people from planet earth: A lot of us, whenever we’re in a rut, tend to think, “this is it. It’s never going to get better.” And then it does get better with time. Everything always works out. So, we get in a rut and think we’re depressed. We start believing we messed up, we’re not good enough, we did something horrible to deserve this awful time, but the thing is: we didn’t. Life really stinks sometimes and that’s not your fault. We’re a fallen race. The only place to go is up. Hopefully that’s the lesson we learn and we can take our experiences to give others hope.

So hopefully you can see the cause -> effect in each of those and all the lies one can believe and how it affects the story. 🙂

Hope this helps. ❤

God bless!

Rana

 

Character Development (Part 1) and What Can We Learn From Batman?

As promised a few posts ago, I’d write something up on character development. This is the first in a seven-part series on developing your characters. 🙂

Today, we’ll just focus on a character’s journey and progression as the hero, but if you want to check out a post on ideals, vices, virtues, etc., click here.

What is character development & why is it important?Character Development (Part 1) and What Can We Learn from Batman?

It’s essentially the way your hero matures and grows throughout the novel. It’s essential to the story. Every good book begins with one person and ends with another.

Every single one of us grows a little with every mistake, experience, and action. Fiction reflects that. So it’s essential to have your hero grow throughout the novel. We need to see a bit of ourselves in every character in order to fall in love with them. We need to see that we can grow to be better and we do through characters that develop. 🙂

And anyone who knows me knows that I love Batman. There’s a reason behind that too. Below, we’ll examine how Batman/Bruce Wayne started out and see how and why he changed into what he is known for: being awesome. Oh, and fighting crime effectively, being a hero, etc. 😉

Disclaimer: I do not own the copyright and intend no infringement upon thatblahblahblah.

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN BATMAN BEGINS (at least!), GO WATCH IT, THEN COME BACK. Or not. Whichever. 

Bruce Wayne started out as a rich little boy. He had a friend, a wonderful family, and a British butler. He had a fear of bats, due to an incident you’d know about if you watched the film, and never would have needed to worry about his future until both his parents got shot by a desperate man outside the opera house.

That day, he learned that there were bad people in the world. He wanted to fight them. He wanted justice — or so he thought.

During a conversation with his friend Rachel, he realized that the grudge he’d carried against that man who murdered his parents had been allowed to grow into a thirst for revenge, not justice.

Several different factors led to Bruce becoming Batman. The whole film, Batman Begins, is about that transformation. So, what can we learn from Batman and what changed him?

1) He’s not perfect. We see this when he messes up, picks fights. We see this when the camera drops to a gun in his hand at the trial of the man who murdered his parents. But he doesn’t let his imperfections define him. He overcomes them.

2) His friend and trainer ended up being involved in an organization that required murder as a sort of initiation action. Bruce refused to do that and lost his “friend(s).” He lost a lot all over again and went back home. But he took the lessons he learned and applied them to the life he wanted to live.

3) He made mistakes as he learned how to be Batman. He figured out what worked and didn’t work.

4) Don’t forget the fact that he was orphaned. 😛 We got see how his life was before, to how it changed for the worse, then for the better. We sympathized with Bruce. No one wants to see a child witness the murder of their parents left to stand crying for help in an ally at night. We were filled with righteous anger at his plight. From the start, we had something to care about.

All of this led to creating a man who went from being a broken, scared, and vengeful man to a hero (though misunderstood sometimes) who sought justice and goodness selflessly.

THIS is the journey your hero should take. They need to go from some lower state of being to a higher state by the end of the book. They need to learn lessons, fail, and learn some more. Teach the reader through the hero.

I think the fact that we can identify with Batman is one reason why so many love him. Superman stinks. He’s perfect. He doesn’t really make  mistakes. He saves the world. What do we have to root for? Not much. Unless the villain is worse than the hero, in movies like that, I’m voting for the bad guy! We can’t really relate to Superman. He’s entertaining. That’s it.

There should be flaws. There should be failures. There should be lessons learned.

I think that’s it. I’m sitting here, knowing I left out a lot, but unable to think of it all.

The following posts will include:

Quirks

Why your hero needs to believe a lie

Readers should get to know your hero gradually

Personality types and why you should identify your characters’

Uniqueness

Why your character should have secrets.

God bless!

Rana

Channel Your Fears into Your Writing

For a fantastic proposition, read ’till the end! 😉

Ana/Elfie touched on something important in the comments the other day. She said, “A personal opinion on the ‘sadistic’ one is that as humans, we’ve all been through pain. Writing is a way to relieve that, look at it from another angle and heal. And I’ve read things that have been painful, but in the end have lifted me and helped me heal, making me a better person.”

They say writing can be a sort of therapy, and I completely agree.

I’ve dealt with depression before off and on since I was about 13. It’s gotten better and I’m fine now, but back then, I didn’t really have anyone to go to right then and there when I needed to talk. Communication with my best friend was limited and the friends I had in the area were/are too innocent to talk to about what I was dealing with.

Writing helped me to deal with all that immensely.

Desensitized, as many of you know, is on hiatus. But I learned so much from writing that trilogy. I was able to channel my fears, anxieties, phobias, and everything else I was feeling into those three books through the characters and they were some of my best cast. They were pretty real to me and my readers loved them as well (at least, they said they did 😛 )!

Here’s a short list of what struggles they dealt with:

Ashland = depression, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, family.

Cael = leadership, feelings, beliefs.

Kody = drinking, smoking, being serious.

Blade and Core = self-doubt, lack of faith in their friends.

If you can channel your emotions into your writing, you’ll have a more believable cast of characters, and a more realistic story.

Characters are the most important part of any story. If you can get your readers to relate to them, you can get your readers to love them. A plot can be shallow and crummy. A novel can have a gazillion plot holes, but those can be covered up by the characters.

I’m not saying go ahead and have a crummy story with fascinating characters and be done. Do your best. I’m just saying the characters will cover up a bunch of mistakes.

Other people have gone through the same things you have. By inserting your fears, thoughts, and emotions into your characters, your readers will have an easier time relating to them. That’s what you want.

People aren’t as happy as they act, they’re not as carefree as they seem, and they. have. problems. We all have problems. People are broken. You can’t live without getting broken.

And that’s why we read. We read to know that we’re not alone. We read to grow. We read to go on the adventures we otherwise never would have been able to. We read to be princes, princesses, heroes, villains, peasants, lords…

Make a list of all your favorite characters from any show or book. I’m 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999% sure that you’ll find something in them that you see in yourself. Whether it be that faked smile, that waning sense of hope, that utter despair, that one fear, that one struggle… it’s there. We like people we can relate to, who deal with the same things we do.

Create characters people will find truth in. Don’t beat around the bush. Just be honest. In a world that crams lies down our throats and shoves impossible expectations at us, be honest. We’re not perfect. We never will be. Show people that being imperfect is okay.

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Fantastic proposition: Ciera is a talented, lovely young lady who has achieved so many goals and done so many amazing things that all I can do is sit here and be jealous. 😛 She would like to collaborate with other writers and start a young writers community, which she would like to release this summer!  It will be a place to submit and share your work!

For more information, visit her blog, The Write Things.

God bless!

Rana

Ingrid and Characterization

In this post, I’ll share with you a WIP (not by me) and some more on characterization. If you stick around, I’ll have a character form you can use to create more in-depth charries! 🙂

Okay, so here’s a quick bit on a WIP project that captured me (I have a weakness for beautiful music and good stories, okay?) and that I’d like to share with you, as well as encourage you to pitch in and help these guys out. They’ve put a ton of effort into their novel and would like to share their talents with the world.

They’ve even created their own artwork and soundtrack! Tell me that’s not the coolest thing ever.

The music is GORGEOUS, the artwork is FABULOUS, and, from what the synopsis says, it’s bound to be an amazing story!

Click here for more detail on Ingrid: Timeless Tale.

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cd

Now for characterization!

I know I reblogged Mirriam’s post on creating in depth characters the other day, but now I’d like to elaborate on that for just a bit. 🙂

Again, I’m not an expert. I don’t claim to be. I’m just trying to convey the lessons I’ve learned throughout the past couple of years and hoping it’ll help someone out.

When I first started writing, I was a bit frustrated with the characters. I wanted them to be like the ones in good books. You know? Where they jump off the page and come to life in your head. Where they’re so amazing and real that you want to want to dive into their world and go on adventures with them.

My characters weren’t like that. They were flat and boring.

And it drove me nuts.

So, how do you create characters that are real, people will like, and are fun to work with?

Well, first off: it takes practice. Just like you’re not going to be the best writer when you first start to write (unless you’re the exception – there always is one, you know), your charries won’t work out perfectly first time off the bat. So, if you’re just starting to write, I wouldn’t worry too much.

Second, you should know everything (okay, not everything. But a lot!) you can about your character. And here’s something that can help with that! It definitely helped me out when I was writing my first novel. Characterization forms. Fill it out! You’ll learn a TON about your babies (every writer calls them their babies, right?)! I’ll include one at the bottom of this post and then some links to a few more. 🙂

Finally, just give it time. As you write, you’ll learn more about your charries, and the novel itself. If things don’t work out first time around, just plow through. It’ll get better. 😉

Okay, so I know I’m not genius, but there’s my $0.02.

Something else that might help is analyzing other characters from t.v. shows, films, books, etc. We’ll check out a few below.

1) Merlin

 My family enjoys watching BBC’s twist on the classic tales of King Arthur! When I was about 10 years old, I’d get King Arthur books HUNDREDS of pages long! They were maybe three inches thick. I loved Sir Kay. ^_^ I wonder why they didn’t have him in BBC’s edition…

Oh well! Moving on!

Merlin is about, oh, I’d say maybe 20ish? He’s brilliant, and he’s got magic. What’s wrong with that? Well, magic is outlawed by Uther (who should be dead, but we won’t go into the traditional Arthurian legends) and Merlin is Arthur’s servant. If anyone found out that Merlin had magic and turned him in, he’d be burned to death.

He’s witty, but pretends to be stupid for Arthur’s sake (because, ya know, he’s got a destiny to protect Arthur. He can’t do that if he’s dead) and pretends to be just a humble servant, when, in reality, he’s genius, saves Arthur’s life countless times (without the prince knowing it, of course), and is probably the most powerful person in the kingdom.

So, let’s step back a bit and ask ourselves some questions.

1) What personality traits define Merlin?

2) Does he have any strange quirks?

3) What does he like to do in his free time?

4) Does he enjoy serving Arthur and pretending to be an idiot?

5) What does he suffer as a result of having magic, but having to stay undercover in the heart of Camelot?

6) What does he look like?

These are the sorts of questions we should be asking ourselves as we develop our characters. Let’s take a look at two more characters. Can you guess which ones they’ll be? *wink wink, nudge nudge*

2) John Watson

Yeah. I go off on Sherlock so much that I think Watson needs a turn in the spotlight. 😉

 John Watson was a soldier. He was also a doctor. By just knowing these two facts, we already know a TON about this guy. He’s got to be tough, brave, great at thinking on the spot, and his brain most likely thinks strategically.

Watson is Sherlock’s assistant and friend. He’s prone to getting very frustrated at times due to Sherlock’s sociopathic personality, but he stays with him.

What can we tell about this? Why would he put up with heads in the fridge, eyeballs in the microwave, and who knows what else lying around the house?

He’s faithful.

Knowing he’s a doctor tells us that he’s very smart, knows how to handle tough situations without freaking out, and that he can handle blood.

Knowing he’s a soldier tells us that he can kill people and he can handle himself pretty darn well if it came to a fight.

Okay, but what else? He’s haunted by memories of war. He’s gone through a lot, experience a lot, and had his own adventure. Now, he’s back to living life as a normal person and nothing’s happening. He misses the excitement, the adrenaline coursing through his veins, and the sense that he was doing something worthwhile and heroic as opposed to just eating, sleeping, and doing nothing all day long.

Now for some questions:

1) What’s he look like?

2) What’s his personality like?

3) How does his mind work (e.g. strategically and thinking on his feet or ‘how would this make so-and-so feel if I did this?’)

4) What happens to him as a result of missing his exciting life?

And finally, we’ll analyze a superhero. Batman. Yeah… I have a Batman t-shirt. :3

3) Batman

 I chose Batman (a.k.a. Bruce Wayne) because he’s a bit different from Merlin and Watson. He leads a double life. So there’s more layers, so to speak, to pull away.

Bruce’s parents die and leave him orphaned. His father was a good man and taught his son to be a good man as well. Bruce sets off to learn how to fight evil and restore peace and justice. What he learns, though, is that people can kill people, but they can’t destroy and ideal. I thought that was such a neat concept!

Fox and Alfred aid Bruce in creating that ideal, that image which cannot be destroyed: the Batman.

Okay. So, Bruce is a billionaire. He’s a good man. He seeks to fight corruption and restore good to Gotham. He puts himself at risk to achieve his goal. What does this tell us? He believes that justice is worth dying for. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t put himself in danger to restore those ideals to the his city.

So here’s what questions we can ask about Batman/Bruce:

1) What does he value so highly that he would be willing to die for it?

2) How does he cope with leading a double life?

3) Does one life have an effect on the other? How so?

4) How does Bruce combat evil?

5) Why would he choose to fight himself as opposed to letting someone else fight in his place?

Does this sort of make sense? If not, let me know in the comments and I’ll do another post. 🙂

And now, for the characterization form!! *drumroll*

Disclaimer: I did not create this myself. I found it here

And even though some of these questions may be silly, it helps you to understand your charries more. 🙂 The secret is to know them inside and out. (And even then they’ll still surprise you. 😉 ) Writing isn’t easy. Just remember that. 😉

Character Name:

 

Age:

 

Appearance:

 

  1. What do you know about this character that s/he doesn’t know yet?
  2. What is this character’s greatest flaw?
  3. What do you know about this character that s/he would never admit?
  4. What is this character’s greatest asset?
  5. If this character could choose a different identity, who would s/he be?
  6. What music does this character sing to when no one else is around?
  7. In what or whom does this character have the greatest faith?
  8. What is this character’s favorite movie?
  9. Does this character have a favorite article of clothing? Favorite shoes?
  10. Does this character have a vice? Name it.
  11. Name this character’s favorite person (living or dead).
  12. What is this character’s secret wish?
  13. What is this character’s proudest achievement?
  14. Describe this character’s most embarrassing moment.
  15. What is this character’s deepest regret?
  16. What is this character’s greatest fear?
  17. Describe this character’s most devastating moment.
  18. What is this character’s greatest achievement?
  19. What is this character’s greatest hope?
  20. Does this character have an obsession? Name it.
  21. What is this character’s greatest disappointment?
  22. What is this character’s worst nightmare?
  23. Whom does this character most wish to please? Why?
  24. Describe this character’s mother.
  25. Describe this character’s father.
  26. If s/he had to choose, which whom would this character prefer to live?
  27. Where does this character fall in birth order? What effect does this have?
  28. Describe this character’s siblings or other close relatives.
  29. Describe this character’s bedroom. Include three cherished items.
  30. What is this character’s birth date?
  31. If this character had to live in seclusion for six months, what six items would s/he bring?
  32. What makes this character angry?
  33. What calms this character?
  34. Describe a recurring dream or nightmare this character might have.
  35. List the choices (not circumstances) that led this character to his or her predicament.
  36. List the circumstances over which this character has no control.
  37. What wakes this character in the middle of the night?
  38. How would a stranger describe this character?
  39. What does this character resolve to do differently every morning?
  40. Who depends on this character? Why?
  41. If this character knew s/he had exactly one month to live, what would s/he do?
  42. How would a dear friend or relative describe this character?
  43. What is this character’s most noticeable physical attribute?
  44. What is this character hiding from him/herself?
  45. Write one additional thing about your character.

God bless!

Rana