Friday, June 1, 2012

Bringing your characters to life - Lesson 1

I recently did a workshop at the Maine Romance Writer's of America Retreat and thought why not share some of the workshop with you all.

I thought I'd break this down into a couple of posts to give you an opportunity to build your characters along the way. By the end of this workshop you will know your characters and be able to pull their personalities into your story and have them jumping off the page.

Characters. . .characters through the writing of your story must come to life, become “real”, and move your story forward. As a reader you sympathize with the characters of a novel, love or hate them, feel their anger and fear, and every emotion in between. Before the end of a really good book, you as the reader practically know what a character will say or do before you read it.

In order to bring your characters to life for your readers you as a writer have to know your hero, heroine, and even your villain.

How do you go about that?

One way is to picture your characters and ask your hero/heroine/villain:

  • What’s your name? (first and last)
  • Physical appearance (age, looks, clothing)?
  • Marital status (married, divorced, children)?
  • Family (parents, siblings, other influential family member)?
  • History/Backstory (education, job, where from)?
  • Characteristics (verbal expressions, habits, objects carried)?

My new heroine:

Dakota Donovan James

She's 5 feet 6 inches, 28 years old, has hair the color of sunshine, eyes are summer sky blue.
Dakota likes to wear jeans and her dead father's cowboy hat.
Dakota is not married and has never had a long-term relationship.
Both of her parents are dead. Her Irish mother died when she was sixteen and her father died when Dakota was twenty-one. Her father was a huge influence in her life. He taught her to ride horses and to shoot. Because of her Saturday trips with her father, she became a marksman at age fifteen.
Dakota is from Sweetwater, Texas. She has been to other countries due to her job, a job most people don't know she had.
Due to Dakota's job, she has learned to school her reactions...mostly. Besides earing her dead father's cowboy hat, she carries a small wolf sculpture made out of pink quartz.

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