Is it the story or the characters that captures the hearts of readers? In talking to people, whenever they talk about a book or movie, they immediately mention the characters by name. The problem in the book may be important to them, but it seems characters can live forever in the hearts of readers.
How do you write great characters? Don’t think of them that way. Think about writing the stories of people. It’s more than writing a physical description of them. Instead of the word “character”, think friend or relative. But remember to spare hurt feelings, change name, sex, and some physical attributes, especially hair color.
In my book, A Vampire for Christmas, you learn about Georgia by what happens to her and how she reacts in different situations. You also learn about her from others.
Here is an example of characterization using reactions and actions.
“No,” Georgia whimpered at the hand reaching into the window display, yanking out the coat she’d stared at every day for three weeks–the thick brown and black, faux fur coat with the black hood. None of the other coats compared to that one with its elegant lines and obvious warmth. Georgia’s own coat was shabby. She shivered.
If only her credit cards weren’t maxed out. A tear streamed down her cheek before freezing on her face.
Then she saw the reflection. Every time she stopped at this window, his reflection would be there staring back. He stood about two feet behind her, so the image was shadowed. At first, she reasoned that perhaps he lived in the neighborhood and it was a coincidence. Maybe he was looking at coats for his mother or girlfriend. Maybe he was a stalker. She turned to leave.
Someone tapped her on the shoulder. Georgia gripped her bag strap and turned, then looked up. He was tall, broad shouldered, and compassion made his face kind. Bright green eyes gazed into hers. His warm brown hair was cut conservatively, which matched the new, dark brown coat.
“Are you all right?”
“Yes. I’m fine. Thank you.”
“You’re not fine. Please, let me help you.”
Instantly, she burst into a run and didn’t stop until she reached the donut shop across from her apartment. Sitting at a table, Georgia peeked through the window. He hadn’t followed her. Snowflakes floated down obscuring her vision. Maybe she overreacted. Maybe not. You couldn’t be too careful in New York. She got up and went to the counter to order coffee and donuts to go.
You see Georgia’s habit of stopping by that window, the type of coat she wanted, and the state of her own coat. It gives you information about a man that’s been watching her and how she feels about him.
Don’t write everything at once. Share information about your “person” where it naturally flows. Trust that as you write, your people will reveal more and more about themselves though actions and interactions.
Here is a scene with Trevor and Georgia meeting for the first time.
It wasn’t the job Georgia longed for, but it was something. As she stepped out of the coffee shop a few minutes after eleven, a passerby grabbed her purse.
“No,” she shouted, clutching the leather strap. He pulled so hard, she toppled over. But Georgia remembered her lessons at the dojo and struck at the robber with her feet. He tripped sideways.
Then he pulled a knife. In a blur, the strange man from the store window had one foot on her attacker’s hand and the other on his throat.
Georgia scrambled to her feet and in a fit of rage yanked her purse free then punched her rescuer in the jaw.
He swayed a bit but remained steadfast on her attacker. Shocked, Georgia rubbed her knuckles. She’d broken boards with that fist, so it should have had more impact.
A siren later and the police arrived.
Every time I think of Georgia and Trevor, I can’t help but laugh. I hope you noticed that you have now learned more about their “characters”.
Here is a blurb about A Vampire for Christmas for those that want to know more about them and the link.
Georgia doesn’t know she’s a Harmony. Jobless and about to be homeless, her heart sinks when a hand snatches the coat of her dreams from the storefront window. Then she sees him staring at her reflection . . . the stalker.
Trevor Stenwood, a vampire and Arnhem Knight, is handsome, sophisticated, and tongue-tied every time he sees her. Sworn to protect the supernaturals of the city, he’s fallen for a woman marked for death by demons. How can he save her when she’s afraid of him?
At Christmas time in New York City, will love bloom in the snow?
Currently it’s available only in Kindle but I’m working on that. https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Christmas-Vampires-Manhattan-Book-ebook/dp/B00H92ENUU
If you have been following along, be sure to look at the actions and reactions of your “people” as you write. Dialogue is included in reactions.
If you have missed the other lessons in “How to Write a Fiction Novel,” here they are:
Happy Writing. Next week we will talk about the “Squishy Middle.” No, I’m not talking about a diet. I’m talking about the middle of novels. (laughs) If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write them in the comments box.
Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
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