Tierney James, Author

Lipstick & Danger

The Write Place to Create Characters

Posted on Feb 20, 2019 by   1 Comment | Posted in Uncategorized

 We will be talking about character development and how this affects your story. Think about the character below and how you would describe him. Who is he? Where is he from? How would you feel if confronted by such a person? Jot down a few words that will help the reader know more about him.

Then there are the characters we love to watch. What is it about the character Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean that captures our heart? Is it his

  • Profession – pirate
  • Dress – shabby cool                               
  • Personality
  • Flaws

I bet it’s a combination of all of the above. We’ve all had that moment when we fall in love with a character. Jamie Frazier from Outlander comes to mind as does Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind. And of  course, Scarlett O’Hara and Tessa Scott from the Enigma Series.

*Mitch Rapp from the Vince Flynn books. He’s a cold-hearted killer looking to do a little payback to any terrorist that would threaten the United States. I can’t get enough of these books.

*Gabriel Allen – An Israeli that restores priceless works of art for the Vatican. He is also a former Israeli Agent who protects Israel with a vengeance. His beautiful green eyes can paralyze the worst of the worst.

Both these characters have a dark side as well as a strong sense of right and wrong. There’s very little gray area with them. They come with a great deal of emotional baggage but somehow you feel safe in their presence because they are leveling the playing field against the evil in the world.

Daniel Silva and Vince Flynn created characters that bring the reader back over and over again. They become familiar to the point of you can predict what their next move might be. You know them personally. You buy their books because not buying them would leave the character dangling over some threshold of disaster.

How to Connect & Make it Real!

  • Create a character profile – gender, skin color, eyes, shape, scars, right or left handed, intellect, sensory traits (deaf, blind, x-ray vision, sensitive to touch)
  • Personality traits – optimistic or pessimistic, grumpy, happy, sentimental, shy, outgoing, sadistic
  • Self-reflection – how do they see themselves
  • Inborn traits
  • Experience
  • Contrast between two things that make characters unforgettable like strength and fragility or temper and passive, ying and yang
  • Contrasts can create complexity – fear of heights but he’s a smoke jumper, she’s a nurse but hates the sight of blood.
  • Traits must function or have a purpose in the story – She bakes the best cheesecakes in the county but is lactose intolerant
  • Plot makes use of traits –

How to Make the Character Standout

  1. Physical attributes:
  • Be original
  • Physical description shows character’s personality
  • Layer the description
  • Show the stimulation of physical characteristics
  • Posture
  • Mannerisms
  • Speech
  • Actions
  • Show how the character feels through their actions. (Slams the door.)
  • Show contradiction of thoughts and words through actions. (I hate her. “Will you come to my bridal shower?”)
  1. Motivation
  • Prior experiences
  • Values and beliefs
  • Desires
  • Physical             c. Emotional
  • Social                 d. Spiritual

Creating believable adventures, memories, escapes, and possibilities live through the characters we create. Don’t miss an opportunity to make your readers crave more by doing a little advanced research on who you want your character to become. Next time we’ll talk about heroes and villains.

1 Comment

  1. Comment by Shirley McCann
    February 20, 2019 2:19 am

    Great post about writing characters. I’ve never read Vince Flynn, but it sounds good. Maybe I’ll check it out. Maybe it would be interesting to pick a friend and write down all their traits. Maybe I will.

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