Thursday, 8 January 2015

Building Character in Your Story (Guest Post)

Good morning!

Today we have our second guest post for this month! Today we have Anne Tibbets here to talk to you about building character. Anne has written two great new adult dystopians, Carrier and Walled.

Synopsis for Carrier: Twenty-two-year-old Naya has spent nearly half her life as a sex slave in a government institution called The Line. Excommunicated after getting pregnant with twins, she's left with no way to earn a living and a horrifying choice to make: find someone to replace her at the institution by the time she gives birth, or have her babies taken in her stead.

Ric Bennett wants to help. A doctor with a history of aiding ex-Line girls, he runs a team of rebels that can delete Naya's records, prevent her from having to make an impossible choice, and free her forever. But when his plan is sniffed out, things get bloody, fast. The Line wants them back. The organization has discovered information about Naya and her twins that make them more valuable than just sex slaves. It makes them dangerous—and part of The Line's larger plan.

As they hide from government search parties, Ric comes to admire Naya's quiet strength. And Naya realizes Ric might be a man she can trust. If they make it off the grid, they could build a new life. But first they'll have to survive the long, vicious reach of The Line.

Synopsis for Walled: Freedom means making brutal choices.

Rebel lovers Naya and Ric have survived one year in hiding, raising Naya's twins from infants to toddlers in the shadow of the brutal Auberge dictatorship. They're alive, and they're together, but the city is crumbling around them and the haunting memory of Naya's dark days on The Line have never fully left them. Living in isolation won't be an option forever.

When a mysterious revolutionary seeks their help to infiltrate Auberge's electronic heart and shut it down, it's an opportunity—it's risky, yes, but if it works they'll get out of the city and taste freedom for the first time. Naya needs this. They need this.

Beyond the broken walls of Auberge, Naya and Ric find the paradise they've always longed for. But with anarchy reigning and Naya's children lost amidst the chaos, they'll need to forfeit their post-apocalyptic Eden…or commit an unspeakable act. 


Guest Post: When I start writing a new book, I hear character voices in my head. It’s a healthy kind of schizophrenia. For me, building a character can be as simple as listening to the voices and letting them tell me who they are. But in the interest of instruction, here are some steps I take that help me mold that character beyond their words and into a well-rounded individual.

Voice
 
Have you ever listened to people talk? Not looked, but just listened? I used to be legally blind (I had laser eye surgery several years ago), but back when I was “blind,” and when I was feeling overwhelmed, I would sometimes take my glasses off and just listen. At school, while watching TV, at a family dinner – anywhere really, and I would let their voices penetrate my brain. Everybody talks differently. Some people squeak when they get excited. Some people drop their voices when they get angry. Some people choke right before they’re going to laugh. Some people use the same words over and over. Some smack their lips after every sentence, or inhale loudly before speaking. I challenge you to find your character’s voice.

Now, I know when you hear ‘voice’ you think that editors are talking about word choice, and cadence, and tone and mood of the character’s narration – and you need to work on that, too. But when I speak of voice (no pun intended), I mean the tambour, the inflections, the vocal ticks and mannerisms. If you add those to your word choice and character narration, etc., and you have already created a character with more personality than half the real life people I’ve met.
 
Flaws

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched a romantic comedy movie where one character tells another, “You’re so cynical!” And either a) we, the audience, have already figured that out, so it’s unnecessary for the other character to even mention it, or b) we, the audience, are perplexed because the supposedly cynical character hasn’t acted cynical AT ALL.

Don’t do this. If you give a character a flaw, for example, let’s give our hero a nasty temper – let this temper play into the story. Let the reader see this temper flare, more than once, and have it affect everything. Don’t just list the character’s flaws and then have them act like flawless robots; make it count. Make the flaws factor into the plot, their relationships, how the other characters talk/deal with them. Have it happen at the worst possible moment. Use your character’s flaws as a means to add depth and complexity to the story by making it matter – because giving a character flaws and then not using them is just a waste of a good opportunity.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to building characters. But if you do these two things, then you are on your way to creating a richer reader experience and building characters that will live not just in you, but on the page.
 
Olivia's Question: Which character is your favourite from any book?
 
Olivia-Savannah x
 

30 comments:

  1. I can't pick one favorite character. I have too many! Just in the Harry Potter books, I wouldn't be able to pick one xD Same thing goes for The Lord of the Rings and A Game of Thrones. (And by those books, you can totally see me favorite genre xD)

    I would say though:
    From A Game of Thrones: Tyrion Lannister, Arya Stark, Jon Snow
    From Lord of the Rings: Sam, Eywon
    From Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford Prefect
    From Les Miserables: Eponine
    From Harry Potter: Sirius Black, Ron Weasley, Luna Lovegood

    And other than that: Coraline, Alice(in Wonderland), Oliver Twist and probably some others that I have forgotten...

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    1. Yes, choosing a favourite character would definitely be hard for me as well! It looks like you have quite a few favourites from good books :) I am currently reading Game of Thrones and so far my favourite characters happen to be the three mentioned!

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  2. Amazing guest post! I especially loved the part about the flaws. This whole sentence: "If you give a character a flaw, for example, let’s give our hero a nasty temper – let this temper play into the story. Let the reader see this temper flare, more than once, and have it affect everything"; was very much amazing! I do love when we, the readers, get to guess what flaws the characters have.
    And as for my favourite characters.... this one is a tough questions! I can't pick only one.... but I'm gonna go with the obvious answer for me, which is Harry Potter, and tell you that my favs characters from that series are Ron, Luna, Hermione, Lupin and McGonagall (I love how even though she was a very strict person she cared about the kids a lot!)

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    1. I am glad you loved it so much! And I think interesting flaws can change a person from someone boring to unique and individual as well! It is hard to pick favourite characters, I will admit :)

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  3. Wow...that's the type of question where an answer would require some time. Two characters I have enjoyed recenty are:

    Selah from A Grave Inheritance by Kari Edgren.
    -She has a secret - she is descended from the goddess Brigid. So, she has enemies. Granted, people who are closer to her than she knows don't tell her the entire truth all at once, but she tends to 'fly off the handle' and get offended easily.

    Mama Bones from Big Mojo by Jack Getze
    -She is an Italian mother, with her fingers in many not-entirely-above-board pies. She uses a love potion on her grown son's business partner to make him fall in love with the next person he kisses. This female, rather unexpectedly, turns out to her son's mistress. She is a mama bear where her family is concerned.

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    1. Haha yes, this is a tricky one! I haven't read either of those books, but they do sound like some cool characters. Especially Selah because she is descended from a goddess - I'm all about mythology :D

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  4. Hi Olivia - Olivia's Question: Which character is your favourite from any book? A to your Q: I really liked Vera Ray, a character from 1933 Seattle in Sarah Jio's book, Blackberry Winter.

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  5. What an awesome guest post! Such wonderful advice. I like the way Anne explained voice and flaws and the examples she gave for each.

    Picking a favorite character is hard! There are so many great ones. I may have to go with Harry Potter, or Ron- or Luna- Hagrid... My list goes on and on. Part of why I love them so much is because of their flaws. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Yes, she did give some great pointers! I am going to remember them when I make my own characters.

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  6. Replies
    1. Oh, I have read all of Anne Tibbets books and loved each and every one!

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  7. Such great advice! I love how she compares hearing her characters' voices in her head to healthy schizophrenia. And I love that Sarah Dessen quote!

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    1. Hehe yes, she does have a good sense of humor ^^ I like that quote as well, I agree with it <3

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  8. Good tip. I hate forced, ill-thought out writing. May all future writers take this advice.

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  9. Great post. And as for my favorite characters there's to many to list. But here I go:
    Jonas from The Giver
    Harry, Ron, Dumbledore and Sirius Black from Harry Potter
    Jo and Margaret March from Little Women
    Miss Jenny and Matilda from Matilda
    Quincy Morris from Bram Stoker's Dracula
    Lena Kaligaris from Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

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    1. I loved Matilda and the books Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in general. You've got some great favourites here ^^

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  10. I too listen to my characters as they develop. I think it's the only way to get a great character on paper.

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    1. Yes! They really know what they are doing themselves.

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  11. This is such an amazing and interesting post! I didn't really think before about how a character speaks, so that's something I'm excited to look deeper into :)

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    1. Hopefully you will be able to see it in the books you read even more ;)

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  12. Ooooh, Carrier sounds amazing! I just added it to my TBR list.

    Also, favorite character in a book? There is no way that I could ever just pick one!

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    1. D: I loved it! I hope you like reading it as well!

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  13. These sound interesting. Favourite character!?!? ONE!?!? HOW!!! I could never pick one. My favourite character I discovered in the last year though would be Celaena Sardothian from Throne of Glass... I LOVE HER!

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    1. xD Yeah, choosing one is difficult! I haven't read Throne of Glass... but I really need to :D

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  14. I'm creeping your posts all the way from the beginning of this year lol this is an interesting post - I've always wanted to publish my own novel, and this does get me thinking. My favorite character.. I don't actually have an ultimate favorite heroine, but I loved the male lead Adrian from the Vampire Academy & Bloodlines series - Great post! <3 Benish | Feminist Reflections

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    1. You should try and publish one if you want to!

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