Thank you, Aspiring Romance Writers, for allowing me to come out and share an important aspect of writing. And a huge thanks to all you members who take the time to read my suggestions.
Let’s get to it and talk about characterization and why it’s important to a well-written novel.
Please know characterization is not about the fool at your last holiday party everyone laughed at then dissected on the drive home. It’s the life of your hero, heroine, and all secondary characters beyond their height, weight, and eye color that brings them to the start of your book. Without characterization, you have no history to support your leads actions and reactions in any situation.
Now let’s get started on the road to create impressive and memorable characters.
Let’s do a cast call.
Johnny the Hero
Liz the Heroine
Fred – Johnny’s best friend
Pam – Liz’s best friend
Marge – Johnny’s mother
Of the above group, the only roles needing a characterization are the stars and supporting cast. The Walk-Ons are too minor to worry about.
My mentor, Chicago crime writer Beth Anderson, spent many a long night explaining why writing a characterization before you start a book is important. Since we don’t have forever here, I’ll crunch it down.
The writer must know the history of their characters. Their past events are what make them be the people they are today. It is what has driven them to be honest, strong, or steal. You won’t know why your hero runs into the burning building to save the heroine if you don’t understand his history.
So how do you so this? Very easy, but time consuming. Don’t fudge on this. It’s too important to writing a novel that will impress an editor.
The stars need an extensive characterization. Following is the process:
1 - Park yourself at your computer. Each characterization will take several hours so relax and enjoy.
2 - Choose one of the lead characters.
3 - Imagine you are that person. We’ll use Johnny for the example.
4 - Just type. Bang out his life starting at boyhood. Write in his voice. It’s amazing how your phrases will alter as he ages. Bring him up to the starting point of your novel and not a day later. Include every detail no matter how unimportant it may seem. Let your mind run on and you will be Johnny, living the high points of his youth and the lows and what drove him to the man where your story begins. You’re in Johnny’s point of view. Did he pee his pants in third grade? What really happened? What did he see, smell, and feel inside?
Don’t worry about punctuation, grammar, or spelling. Just type. No one else will ever read your work.
Do this with your heroine as well.
You have finally finished your stars. It’s time to begin on your supporting cast. They’ll take much less time since they aren’t nearly as important. You don’t have to start in their childhood. Type up a brief bio, something similar to an obituary of a famous person.
I took Beth’s method one step farther to help me drop the back-story into my novel. Please remember, editors and readers HATE back-story written like a litany and shoved down their throats.
Below are the four easy steps:
1 – Print out each characters history.
2 – List all the highpoints on a separate sheet of paper. The order doesn’t matter.
3 - As you write your novel drop in a line or two of back-story at the appropriate time to enrich the action of your character. Do this as a memory, a comparison, or a single line of dialogue.
4 – Cross off the lines used and write next to them which page you’ve inserted it.
This method will help you build stronger characters with real motivation your reader and editor will love.
Please feel free to email your questions, comments and opinions to sloanetaylor @ Comcast.net (no spaces) with ARW in the subject line. I’ll get back with you in seconds because my leash doesn’t let me get far from my computer.
Thanks for letting me bend your ear. I hope I’ve helped a bit in your success.
Sweet as Honey…Hotter than Hell
Photojournalist Emily Peters gives herself the perfect birthday gift - a weekend in Paris. Her excitement builds when she hits the scene of the exclusive S&G Club. Exposing the truth behind their private pleasure chambers and the elite who frequent them will be the diamond in her career crown. At least Em thinks so until she’s tied up in knots by the Devil himself.
British restaurateur Nicholas Caine visits Paris to check on his S&G Club investment and to sample its many benefits. Nick’s not on the hunt until he encounters a tiger that pretends to be a kitten. There’s no doubt she’ll satisfactorily flex her claws given the right incentive.
What starts as a prime photo opportunity evolves into a weekend of erotic fantasies as Nick awakens Emily’s dark passions.
- Now Available at Musa Publishing.
Originally posted to ARW at this link