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
Body Type:_____________________________________________ ______________
Hair Color:____________________________________________ ________________
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: __________________________________________________ _______
Body Type______________________________________________ _______________
Height/Weight/ Body Type______________________________________________ __
Hair Color/ Eye Color_____________________________________________ _______
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______________________________________________
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!
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Linn’s books are available at Coffeetime Romance.