View Full Version : Making Your Characters Real: Hero & Heroine

March 3rd, 2011, 07:43 AM
I get a lot of compliments and good reviews about my characters. Both readers and reviewers tell me how very real my characters are. What a compliment and I am always very grateful to recieve such compliments.

My characters seem real because they are real to me, I know them. I develop them in the pre-writing stage of the mystery I answer all the character questions as outlined in The Plot Book. It not that tough, you can make your characters very real too!

I will also add that about 10 percent of what I write and know about my characters will ever actually appear in the novel but what is important is I know them intimately. I know how they will act and react, after all, I’ve build them do just so.

I usually draw my characters from actors and actresses from television or the movies.
I would suggest you resist the urge to use family members as characters as charming and flattering as that may appear at first glance.

First, the characters you draw from your family experience never do what you want them to do and making them do something they wouldn’t normally is contrary to their nature. In addition to being very unmanageable, you have the added complication of causing yourself a host of disagreements from your family members if you cast them in an unpleasant light.

So my advice is while your characters may look like a television or movie star or even a friend or enemy, or a compilation someone out of your own imagination.

At first blush, the stereotypical hero’s handsome, kind, loyal, brave and street smart. Did I miss anything? Oh, of course. He’s also tall, dark and handsome. (Did you know the most popular hero for American women is one who has dark hair and dark eyes? I’m attracted to that type which is why, of course, I am married to my 6’5” blond.) He's your hero so make him a blond, redhead or describe him as you like.

Your heroine is typically beautiful, resourceful, and clever.

You will want to give your hero and heroine more depth, in fact you have to. No one is perfect including and especially your hero or heroine. Making them a bit flawed makes them real.

It’s okay to give your hero/heroine flaws, weakness and fears which they will overcome.

Your hero and heroine have backgrounds, history, baggage that will color their perspective and view on life and members of the opposite sex. Your characters can be colorful, distinctive and have peculiarities or maybe they are just the strong silent type.

What habits does your character possess? In Baby Boom, Diane Keaton’s leg would jump to project her nervousness. We knew she was upset and nervous when she did that.

What traits, background and even education do your characters require to come into the pages of your book? In Lights, Camera. Murder! Sage McCall is the heir apparent to one of Hollywood’s largest security firms. Hence, she came hard-wired into the novel as a black belt, and an expert in handling a gun. She is my hero’s equal.

You should know your characters well enough to predict their actions in any given scenario. If a squirrel runs in front of your heroine’s car will she run over top the little critter or run her car into a mailbox to avoid hitting it. If your male lead is a law enforcement officer, fireman or hero, he will be running into danger not away from it. You should know how your character will act and react in any given scenario.

Whether you are writing about the hero, villain or heroine, looks can be deceiving. That little fluff of southern womanhood may be a steel magnolia. That city girl with the designer sunglasses may be a crack shot with a glock.

If your characters are real to you and they will real to your readers. And it’s okay to make your characters grow and develop as your novel progresses.

Haley in Pirates in Paradise begins the book as an awkward young female but by books end has grown into a savvy woman who will transform into a strong woman who will not only save her sister and herself. My hero develops from a distant, despondent, isolated man back to the man he once was, powerful, capable and now motivated with passions and dreams.

Your characters should not be the same people at book’s beginning as they will be at books end. They will change by the events of your plots in much the same way people change.

As you are developing your characters you will have an idea as to what they look like.

In your plot book, write down the physical description of your characters. Heights, weight, type of clothes they wear are just the first steps in developing your characters.

Your Plot Book will help you define their physical, mental and psychological characterizes.

Not only will The Plot Book give you a reference as to what they look like but it’s also an easy resource to double check eye color. Think it can’t happen? Thank goodness my editor discovered my hero had brown eyes at his introduction on page two and then blue eyes 37 pages later.

Writing down the physical description is especially handy when working with secondary characters who only have a couple of scenes throughout the book.

Also, because I am the most detailed oriented person you will ever come across, I have another companion book to my Plot Book. It’s a $ 1.00 photo book, and in it I slide in pictures of my characters from magazines.

I used Julian McMahon, from Charmed & Nip/Tuck, (Charmed you should like that!) as I have for my hero in Lights, Camera, Murder and Pirates in Paradise. Obviously, I like him a lot. I have a picture of a lovely Victoria Secret model as my heroine in my current work in progress. I found the perfect picture of Kevin Costner as my innkeeper in my current work in progress and in my work in progress, my hero’s police department look surprising like the characters in In the Heat of the Night. I jot down little notes in the photo book beside them and refer to it as needed.

So if you like buy a photo book and populate it with your cast of characters. Don’t use the characters names, just the physical description.

You should know your characters as intimately as members of your own family. If they are real to you-they will become real to your reader.

Your characters actions, feelings and decisions help drive the plot.

Lastly, I usually write my heroine’s description and characterizes on one side of the page and the hero’s on the opposite. If romance is part of the novel, at first blush, make your hero and heroine as opposite as possible. Their core values should be the same but your reader will have a delicious time watching two supposedly opposites fall in love.

Take your time and fill out your character descriptions in The Plot Book. Here are some great questions to ask yourself about your leading lady and hero. Add others you believe you would find helpful but this is a good basis

The Plot Book Characterization
Name______________________________________________ _________________
Age:______________________________________________ __________________
Body Type:_____________________________________________ ______________
Height/Weight:___________________________________________ _____________
Hair Color:____________________________________________ ________________
Eyes:_____________________________________________ ___________________
Background:_______________________________________ _____________________
Special Talent:___________________________________________ ______________
Best Trait:____________________________________________ _________________
Father/Mother Names: __________________________________________________ _
Single Child? Siblings? Younger? Older? Names: __________________________________________________ ________________
Education: __________________________________________________ _________
Marital Status: __________________________________________________ ______
Habits: __________________________________________________ _____________
Food Favorites: __________________________________________________ ______
Occupation: __________________________________________________ ________
What would she die for? _________________________________________________
Proudest Moment: __________________________________________________ ____
Most Influential Person: __________________________________________________
This Year’s Goal______________________________________________ __________
Biggest Secret: __________________________________________________ _______
What does she want, what action will she take to get it: __________________________________________________ __________
__________________________________________________ ____________________
If a squirrel runs across the road, she will: __________________________________________________ ___________________
Education: __________________________________________________ ____________________
Favorite Foods: __________________________________________________ ________
In your imagination, walk through her home, her bedroom, the kitchen, tour Her Home: __________________________________________________
Vehicle: __________________________________________________ _____________

Name: __________________________________________________ __________
Nickname: __________________________________________________ _______
Age_______________________________________________ ___________________
Body Type______________________________________________ _______________
Height/Weight/ Body Type______________________________________________ __
Hair Color/ Eye Color_____________________________________________ _______
Background________________________________________ ___________________
Education: __________________________________________________ __________
Current Occupation: __________________________________________________ _
As a child wanted to be: __________________________________________________
Best Trait_____________________________________________ ________________
Worse Failing___________________________________________ ______________
Proudest Moment____________________________________________ __________
Biggest Regret____________________________________________ ____________
Most Influential Person____________________________________________ ______
Goal/Dreams This Year______________________________________________ ___
Long term Goals_____________________________________________ __________
Biggest Secret____________________________________________ _____________
What does his home look like______________________________________________
Family____________________________________________ ____________________
Education_________________________________________ ___________________
Hates/Likes_____________________________________________ ______________
What does He want______________________________________________ _______
What will he do to get it: ________________________________________________

***** As I go through character development of the Hero and Heroine, I try to make them as different as possible. For instance Devin is a vegetarian in my paranormal Haunted Hearts and my hero is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I do this in all my books.

At the beginning of each book, the reader should be aware of this and think there is no way for the hero and heroine to get together and will follow your delicious read as to how they do. And one more note, as they look opposite at first glance at their core values the two are the same and in a mystery be united with a common goal-solving your mystery.

Tomorrow, we will be talking about the Villian. Today, telll me about your Hero or Heroine and what makes your Hero or Heroine real to you.

Thanks everyone for joining me today! See you online at Coffeetime! Linn

For More Information on Linn Random or Lights, Camera. Murder!
You are all invited to visit www.LinnRandom.com
Linn’s books are available at Coffeetime Romance.

March 3rd, 2011, 07:56 AM
Great way to develop your characters Linn. I'm definitely going to have to try it out. I have problems developing my characters, that's why I've never published anything.

March 3rd, 2011, 07:16 PM
Charmed, you are "pre-published"....but not to worry. I can give you the formula to become a successful author.

There are three rules, and if you follow them, You will be published. Please take these to heart. The first rule is 1) Write. The second rule, and this is important is 2) Write. The third rule, most important of all, 3) Write! I want you to know I believe in you, and I do believe you will be published very soon. Keep writing, keep believing, and know it will happen! Hugs, Linn

March 4th, 2011, 02:01 AM
I know I've just got to keep writing but it's finding enough hours in my day at the moment. I've got plenty of ideas, but not much chance of writing. Tuesday will be a day of writing.

March 4th, 2011, 07:41 AM
If you can only write on Tuesday, Charmed, then spend part of tuesday doing just that. Having a Plot Book handy will allow you to jot down information on your characters, elements to insert in your scenes. Thinking about your novel is also part of the process. By planning your scenes out, it will make your coveted writing time of more value. One of my friends and mentors is Stephanie Bond. Would it surprise you to learn she started her career writing during her lunch break? When I started writing, I got up at 6:30, then 5:30 and then 4:30 to squeeze in a hour to an hour and a half writing. So, my recommendation is plan out your work on Tuedays and use part of the day to write. The rest of the day-enjoy and don't forget to dream. Day dreams, visualization of getting your book complete and published are all part of the process. Reading and learning about writing are all part of your trade and the writing process. As I said before, and will always, I believe in you. Linn

Red Dragon
March 5th, 2011, 05:02 AM
I'll just resubmit part of a post I put on in Day 1.

A major problem I discovered when I reread my 1st draft.

My Villain drives the story. She is centre stage most of the time.
My Heroine is sidelined, inadvertently. In fact I realized that I have kept her out of the story altogether. – locked her in a fisherman’s shed ( she had to be rescued)
- put her in hospital
- -put her in jail.

Guess I love my villain better than my heroine. Any clues how to reverse the situation.<!-- / message --><!-- sig -->

March 5th, 2011, 08:21 AM
Most Hollywood actors will tell you they love to play the villian. Why, they are fun to play and definately fun to write about.

I looked it up online and guess what RA Salvatore wrote a trilogy called The Sellswords where the villian was the lead character. Liar's Oath by Elizabeth Moon I understand used the villian as the lead chacter and of course there is Shakespeare's King Richard III and Dexter, the loveable serial killer on Showtime. So while its is not the "norm", you are in the company of some pretty accomplished authors.

A couple of options, and there is no right or wrong, its simply how this book is. If its right for this book, and you feel right about it--then the villain as the lead character is the way its supposed to be. Embrace it, its unique and yours.

If you want to give the heroine a stronger presence beef up the scenes of the heroine with her point of view. What is she doing while trapped and in the hospital? What does she do to get out of the fisherman's box? Think of the elements of suspense, which I will be going in depth with in a future lesson. Does she keep looking at her watch, does she scream, what are her thoughts, is there a spider or bug weaving a web and she notices the similarities between the two. Is silence or wind a friend or making her crazy. In the hospital does she over hear conversations? How does she get out of her situation? Is she calm or frantic. So there is much to write about to "beef" up her scenes and highten the drama. Most of all make your readers care about the heroine.

You can change point of view. My books are third person but I'll switch pov to the hero to give the reader insight into what the hero or villain is thinking. You can do the same but I would suggest you not do it every other paragraph, just huge blocks where you switch viewpoint. And of course as I recommending this, rules are meant to be broken.

If you want to make the heroine give the heroine a stronger presence, may I suggest you look into the character notes from this lesson. Give your heroine something to live for, her kids, the man she loves, a dream she has for herself. Make the readers care.

So, bottomline, there is no right way or wrong way for your novel, keep writing, think about some of the lessons I am offering in this class which will begin again on monday, and feel and do what is right for you and your characters. I believe in you and look forward to reading your finished work! Linn

Red Dragon
March 5th, 2011, 10:03 AM
Thanks Linn,
My heroine does forward the story while she is in her predicaments and shows strength of character. Suspense is created through the lack of time to save the old man, but I worry because she doesn't solve her own problem. She doesn't find some clever way to escape. She has to be rescued and that's a cop out, even if it is in the middle of the book, isn't it? I'll use the plot book to rev her up a couple of notches.

I see my villain as a worse version of Thackeray's Becky Sharpe, so I guess she really is the main character. I'm glad you think that's okay. :) She solves her own problems -- until the end.

March 5th, 2011, 11:22 AM
Rusty there is no shame in having your heroine rescued during the process of your novel, not every heroine takes on the challenges, and its very good she does resolve her challenges by book's end. Characters like real people change. Events and circumstances can change us all. And hey, who doesn't like a goodlooking hero save the girl. As long as her spirit triumphants, she sounds like someone I would root for! So Bravo, Rusty, I think you have a wonderful novel in the works! I'm proud of you, keep writing. You are doing great! Linn

March 5th, 2011, 04:18 PM
Sometimes the heroine even gets to save the hero, which is what is going to happen in one of my works in progress.

Red Dragon
March 5th, 2011, 06:09 PM
Charmed girl, that sounds great. Has a sexy ring to it. He'll be proud of her. Will she be humble about it?

Hi Linn,
I'm not sure the heroine, Suz, does solve her problem at the end -- she's in jail. Her boyfriend Craig, girlfriend, Kate, and the police do. I'd like to make Kate the heroine but the action centres around Suz who lives above, and helps out in, the coffee shop where the locals gather. Plus, I need to get inside Suzy's head more than the others because she is the one who is boy mad. :)

The villain acts but the heroine can't react. That's the problem; I have an active villain and a passive heroine.

I need to find a way to make my heroine active.

You liked my earlier opening with Suz and the sirens in the night.

Now, if I'm to make my villain the main character, what do you think about me beginning the story a week earlier, with a scene between the villain and her uncle (as a short prologue). The reader will not know she is the real villain until well into the story.

Prologue. (this is the 1st half of the prologue}

Michelle took up her scissors and the magazine she'd brought home from Harriet's hair salon. She drew her chair into the solid wood table. "I swear it Uncle. I'm going to kill him. But I'll make him suffer first. That's the only reason I came back to <ST1:p<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Harbour</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Village</st1:PlaceType>, these holidays."

Try as he might, Tom couldn't bring his gaze to meet his niece's eyes. She was talking crazy talk. He paced the living room in the apartment above his fish and chips shop. Fingers of fear picked at his innards. "You can't mean that. How can you possibly know it's the same person responsible for their death? Even I don't know who he is, and I was a passenger in the car. You weren't even there."

"I tracked him down, by means I will reveal just before he leaves this world. This guy's had too good a life, living it up in <st1:City w:st="on"><ST1:pSydney</ST1:p</st1:City> when he should have been behind bars. Now he's right here, and he doesn't know I'm on to him."

"Who is this man?"

"He is someone who inherited a huge fortune from his grandfather. The old man was a big property developer. The killer came here because he's greedy. He knows the marina is being enlarged and that the new rail line for the fast train will pass through here. That means, in a couple of <ST1:p<st1:PlaceName w:st="on">years</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Harbour</st1:PlaceType> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Village</st1:PlaceType></ST1:p has the potential to be a big town, a tourist goldmine. You and the old shop owners will be pushed out."

"Don’t call him a killer. It was an accident."

His niece ignored him and shrunk into the chair as if she were disappearing into her own bitterness.

Red Dragon
March 5th, 2011, 09:27 PM
P.S. I noticed my 1st sentence has 'had' in it. Since I don't like reading books that have this, I would like to change mine to
Michelle sliced her scissors through the glossy magazine from Harriet's Chic Cuts.

edit: Changed my mind. Don't like this. Sounds as if I'm trying too hard.

March 6th, 2011, 09:57 AM
Writing a prologue is an excellent way to introduce the action and the storyline. In fact I did just that in Pirates in Paradise. My prologue set up the storyline for the rest of the book.

Its okay to write your story the way you feel it should be written. And sounds to me like you have a great mystery and may not fall into the catagory of a romantic suspense.

Its hard to comment without reading more but sounds like a great start to you novel.

My advise is to write your book as your heart is telling you to, decide what genre it fits into later. Keep up the good work! I'll be watching! ;) Linn

March 7th, 2011, 04:56 PM
Charmed girl, that sounds great. Has a sexy ring to it. He'll be proud of her. Will she be humble about it?

It does have a sexy ring to it, and he will be proud of her but at the same time he'll have some angst towards her too because he should be the one doing the saving.

Yes she will be humble about it, but it will also make her feel good because it's the first thing she's done right since her fiance (the hero's partner) died in the line of duty.

Red Dragon
March 7th, 2011, 05:12 PM
Charmed Girl.
From this short explanation I get the impression of a full bodied story. Plenty of action and emotional conflict from both characters. It's good she saves the hero during the story and that her actions are motivated by something in her backstory. She is an active heroine. How much have you written of this story? Sounds to me like you should get it finished. I think you have a seller here.

Red Dragon
March 7th, 2011, 05:27 PM
Hi Linn,
I think you are right, a prologue might be the best way to go. Maybe back when I stared at that 1st blank page I intended it to be a Romantic Suspense, but I can't write Romance, so now I intend this to be a Cosy. Not sure it has all the right elements. Will be happy if i can heighten the suspense and just entertain.

The ms was written from the heart. Now I have to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite until I'm satisfied enough to send it off.
Thanks to your seminar, I opened up this rough draft and am applying your plot book ideas. You have me interested in this ms again. Thank you.

March 7th, 2011, 05:39 PM
Charmed Girl.
From this short explanation I get the impression of a full bodied story. Plenty of action and emotional conflict from both characters. It's good she saves the hero during the story and that her actions are motivated by something in her backstory. She is an active heroine. How much have you written of this story? Sounds to me like you should get it finished. I think you have a seller here.

I'm about halfway through writing, but I have the story outlined so I know exactly which direction I want to take it.

March 7th, 2011, 09:40 PM
I thought I was the only one that kept a photo book of random celebs and people to use as inspiration for my characters. Really nifty idea!

March 9th, 2011, 09:40 PM
Hey Charmed Girl! It's been a while. And our problem is my problem. I'm full of ideas, but don't sit down long enough to develop them.

I know I've just got to keep writing but it's finding enough hours in my day at the moment. I've got plenty of ideas, but not much chance of writing. Tuesday will be a day of writing.

March 10th, 2011, 12:22 AM
Linn, Here's the 1st page of my current WIP RENEGADE VAMPIRE. The prologue follows. Jerry P.S. Apologies if this toooooo long.

United States of America

New Laws

concerning racial purity between vampires and mortal

Effective:* ‬1* ‬January* ‬2008

To live peacefully among mortals,* ‬vampires must abide by the following New Laws.

1* ‬Vampires must participate in the new free government synthetic blood* ‬-program* (‬aka SBP*) ‬to control their thirst for blood.

2* ‬In order to prevent a mixed breed between* ‬vampires and mortals neither group may have sexual affairs.* ‬Any relationship between both parties must remain platonic.

3* ‬Punishment will be rendered should either party not adhere to the New Laws.* ‬Zero tolerance is now affirmative.

The following punishments will occur and acted upon without trial.

A* – ‬Mortals will spend the rest of their
* lives in Internment Camps due to
* being contaminated by a vampire.

* B – Vampires will either be banished
* from mortal society or executed.


Portland,* ‬Oregon Summer,* ‬2009*
Hunger roiled through his belly while the vampire squatted on the roof.* ‬A reddish hue glowed in front of him as his eyes scanned the quiet neighborhood.* ‬So far no mortal nor animal stirred.Come on*! ‬Sunrise is near.* ‬And I need to feed.
Movement across the narrow street disrupted his thoughts.* ‬A door opened in the town house and a young woman in her late twenties stepped out into the cold air.* ‬He grinned at the sight of her badge and black uniform which appeared a snug fit over her sleek physique,* ‬and she wore her dark auburn hair trimmed above her ears.
Locking the door she ambled toward a red* ‬50* ‬MG Mustang convertible parked in the driveway.* ‬She paused beside the car and glanced around,* ‬shrugged her shoulders and climbed behind the wheel.* ‬After wrapping the seat belt around her waist she inserted the key in the ignition,* ‬backed out of the drive way and drove down the street.
He leaped off the roof and swooped toward the car as it backed out of the drive way.* ‬Just as she started driving down the street he dove toward the convertible.* ‬The Mustang bounced the moment he landed on its roof.* ‬Her scream pierced the air while he shoved his right hand through the roof tearing it open.* ‬He pulled the thick material toward him leaving an opening wide enough for him.*
Holding the steering wheel with one hand she grabbed her Glock from the holster on her side.* ‬With its barrel aimed at the frightening intruder her index finger squeezed the trigger.* ‬A bullet escaped the barrel barely missing him.*
The moment he’dropped to the back seat he said.* “‬Shut up bitch.*”
She didn’t obey.
He yanked the weapon from her hand and threw it behind him.
*“I said, shut up.” He raised his right hand and slammed his face on her cheek. Her screaming stopped. Her lids lowered and her body became limp. “There that’s much better.”..
Quickly,* ‬he grabbed her head and shoved to the right.* ‬His fangs dug deep in her neck,ripping her skin and tore it open.* ‬His fangs snapped her jugular freeing her blood which soared upward,* ‬flowing into his mouth.* ‬He became light headed as a coppery taste from the crimson liquid coursed over his tongue.* ‬His veins pulsed faster as the cops blood along with her essence cascading down his throat.* ‬Now with his hunger calmed he yanked his fangs from her neck.
Flying away,* ‬leaving her lifeless body in the front seat,* ‬the Mustang veered to the right and crashed into a parked car setting of a car alarm.

March 10th, 2011, 01:54 AM
Linn, our advice and encouragement in the comments is as motivating and heartening as your lessons. Thank you,

March 10th, 2011, 02:36 AM
That's YOUR advice!
BTW, I love those Plot Outlines.
Thank you for sharing them.

March 10th, 2011, 02:36 AM
That's YOUR advice!
BTW, I love those Plot Outlines.
Thank you for sharing them.

March 10th, 2011, 04:09 AM
Plot outlines? Where are they? Jerry

March 10th, 2011, 07:18 AM
Jerry, plot structure was in yesterdays class. How to Plot the Mystery and Suspense Novel. I gave turning points. Look under Tues's class. Thanks, Linn

March 10th, 2011, 07:23 AM
Jerry that is a great start to your novel. Tighten it up with a little editing because you have a winner! Loved it! Linn

Red Dragon
March 10th, 2011, 06:36 PM
Jerry you asked about your long post. It is is in this thread.

March 10th, 2011, 10:22 PM
As you see i found this thread. Way cool & thanks Linn. I'm going to bookmark it for future use.

March 10th, 2011, 10:23 PM
Thanks rusty. I found the lesson & I'm book marking it for future use.

March 14th, 2011, 07:05 PM
Julie, thank you so very much for your kind words. Its a pleasure to meet you and play a small part in your journey. Keep writing........I know you are going to make your magic happen!