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Monday, June 7, 2010


Character Creation

One of the most important aspects in writing a great story is having great characters. Having a believable, likeable heroine is a must, and sometimes that can be very tricky. There are many books I’ve read where the heroine has annoyed me to the point that I want to put the book down, and to a writer’s career this could be a death sentence. Because if you have a heroine that no one likes, then the reader most likely will be hesitant to buy something else you’ve written.

Most romance stories are written from the point of view of the heroine, either in first or third person. Some writers shift POV to the hero but this can be tricky to maintain within the chapter or scene, and might be a quick reason that editors will turn down a manuscript. My first book, Black Leather Pants, was written completely from the heroine, Penny’s, point of view. It was a challenge to convey all the emotions of the hero, Kiley, so I looked for inspiration from my old Harlequin Presents novels. Authors like Carole Mortimer and Yvonne Whittle are true experts in wonderful POV structure.

To develop my heroine, Kaori, in Spirals, I stepped outside my box and wondered how I would have handled a world devastated by plague and natural disaster. But then I had to take it one step further and find her voice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the works of friends and the voices of all their characters are the same. Voice can either be catch phrases or ticks, or even just a habit that is indicative to one character. Kaori is immature, in a way, since she’s been alone for years. I wrote her brash with a tough mouth to hide just how lonely she is. Over the course of the story she grows up and her voice changes, thus giving her an arc.

Also be believable in your character’s background. My heroes in Spirals, Tobias and Orion, are military recon men, and though I don’t know much about recon missions, weapons or ammunition, I interviewed people who did and then constructed these tough men through their eyes. One of my good friends and fellow writer, Julia Rachel Barrett, wrote a wonderful book titled Beauty and the Feast, whose heroine was a chef. The way Julia wrote about food will leave you salivating through the whole book! Whether or not Julia is a chef herself is immaterial; her writing style and the way she presented the story had you believing in the heroine.

And the last thing to remember when creating characters is the setting you’re putting them in. My historical romance, An Innocent Heart, is set in London in 1820. My heroine, Louisa, is a woman hiding herself by being a pickpocket, and the hero, Harry, loves to put thieves behind bars. When writing character descriptions, keep in mind the time frame they are in. Some things are obvious, like not putting a punk hairdo in 1820, but then some things aren’t so obvious. For instance, men of the peerage in that era usually didn’t have much muscle because they wouldn’t have worked all that much, so if your hero is going to have a tight and tone physique then there’s going to have to be an acceptable reason why.

Just remember to make characters unique. Let them breathe, and in some cases, let them guide you in telling their story. Sometimes that takes you on a journey far more interesting than what you’ve outlined.

I been pretty fortunate in life to experience some amazing things. After a short marriage in my early twenties, I moved to Los Angeles and got a job working for an editorial company. Through them I was able to attend the Emmy Awards one year, meet a slew of actors and musicians, and mingle at some Hollywood parties. I’ve lived in France, traveled throughout Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I found a wonderful partner in life who encourages me to reach for whatever dream I aim for. I went back to school and graduated at the top of my class. I am a mom to an amazing little boy named Hadrian. And I’ve managed to fulfill my life long dream of being published. I can’t imagine not creating stories and becoming obsessed with characters I create. I am constantly trying to better my craft and each book is something near and dear to my heart. Presently I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and work for a skin cancer surgeon, and I love to hear from readers and writers at:

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