Saturday, January 30, 2010
Author's Tip: Creating Lovable Characters by Mona Risk
As the critique coordinator and member of the FTH Critiquers for three years, I have critiqued a fairly large number of manuscripts. Add to these an impressive amount of contests judging over the years and the weekly exchange of chapters with my wonderful critique partners. Amazingly I’ve gathered almost as much useful information from critiquing as I have learned from books, workshops and seminars. In a way the latest taught me the theory but critiquing and judging showed me the mistakes I should avoid. The most important thing I learned was that the characters can make a good book or a mediocre one.
When I finish reading a book I really enjoyed, I remain in my chair, meditating for a few quiet minutes on the story I just finished. I often experience a strange mix of happiness and sadness, happiness for the heroine and hero who have succeeded in overcoming their problems or defeating their enemy, but sadness because I have to leave them, to say goodbye. Isn’t that why we love series? Because we can meet again the characters we liked so much and live again with them a part of their lives.
Don’t you agree that creating lovable characters is the most important part in making a book successful? To create believable characters, you have to know them well. Some writers interview their characters. I prefer to live with them. I keep them in my mind and talk to them while walking, driving, eating on my own. My heroine becomes a dear friend, another me. As for my hero, I always fall in love with him while writing his story.
Just describing a beautiful heroine or a macho hunk will not make them memorable. You need to dig deep into their soul and show the reader their real personalities, the side of them they don’t want anyone to see. Imagine a heroine who tries to hide her soft nature under a cold façade, to appear strong and professional in her job while dealing with a family, or a handicapped child, at home. Now we are talking. Add to that, a deception in her past, an attraction to her boss or a colleague that can jeopardize her career or affect her family. That’s raising the stakes.
Readers like to find similarities between themselves and the characters; an attraction that makes them share the characters’ suffering and struggles until the hero and heroine reach the HEA.
Let’s face it. Readers are a bit sadistic. They love to bite their nails and breathe fast as they watch the hero and heroine jumping from the pan into the fire and trying to get out of difficult situations. So don’t hesitate to torture your characters. Don’t make it easy for them. Conflict is the name of the game. Only conflicted people have a story. Happy people are boring. When you hero and heroine are finally happy, it’s time to type, THE END.
Also be careful about the pace of the story. Accelerate the pace with dialogue. During action, use short sentences, scarce descriptions. After a fast scene with high suspense, allow the reader to relax with an introspection that will slow the pace while the characters expose their emotions. Slow-paced scenes should be short to prevent the reader from getting too relaxed and bored. To keep a good pace, alternate short sentence and long ones. Short paragraphs and long ones. Short scenes and long scenes. Often a love scene may break a highly suspenseful situation and keep the momentum going.
No matter what genre you write, enjoy your story while writing it.
Mona Risk writes romantic suspense for Cerridwen Press,
To Love A Hero [The Romance Studio~ Sweetheart of the Week: Ms. Risk is one of those authors who puts together a tale that’s captivates from first page to last]
French Peril [Night Owl Romance~ Recommended Read~ Mona Risk’s characters will enthrall you as they all dance to their own personal tunes]
and medical romances for The Wild Rose Press,
Babies in the Bargain, [Readers Favorite 2009 Best Romance; The Long & the Short, Reviews Best Book of The Week~ This one will keep you on your toes and make you beg for more.]
Rx for Trust [Night Owl Romance~ TopPick Reading] and Rx in Russian.
All her books are available at Amazon.com