This tip, and many others on world building and creating characters, can be found in Before You Publish: Tips on grammar, writing, and editing, now available in digital and paperback format.
I’ve decided to give away two prizes during this tour:
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Before You Publish– Volume I
*ONE unsigned paperback copy of Beyond The Book –Volume II
I will draw TWO winners total, at the end of the tour.
Please email your proof of purchase (can be a screenshot) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is about more than grammar issues or constructing the perfect sentence. Before you deal with any of those things to make your book the best it can be, you must begin with creating characters.
Most authors have some idea of what their characters look like in their heads, and maybe even what they sound like. But many drop the ball in developing their characters. This process goes deeper than appearance or personality. I’m not talking about a woman having a bad habit of biting her nails or talking with food in her mouth. An author must dig deep to discover each character’s flaws and personality, and then use those revelations to create compelling dialogue and backstories.
Many readers enjoy a happily-ever-after story but not a happy-all-the-way-through story. It’s boring. Most readers—especially romance and fantasy fans—dive into a book to escape for a while. They aren’t looking for everyday stories or mundane characters. They want excitement, drama, heat, and emotion.
Here are some ideas to get you started in creating love-to-love-them or love-to-hate-them characters for whom your story will be remembered:
- Give him a bad-boy complex. Make him rough around the edges but soft and tender in his touch toward his significant other—a side only she sees.
- Create a sense of a tumultuous or unfinished relationship with a parent or sibling—not just the typical I-hate-you-but-I-love-you-because -you-are-family type of attitude. More like: You-stole-my-wife kind of emotional history.
- Develop him as a conceited jerk who only thinks of himself in relationships, doesn’t need a woman, or views women as sex objects only—because he was sexually abused by a female relative as a child.
- Give him an addiction of some sort, but provide enough backstory to make readers feel sorry for him and root for his recovery.
- Give him a position of affluence or respect in the community, but he has a dark secret at home.
- Give him a backstory of abuse—perhaps abused by his mother instead of his father, or his grandfather. Something different.
- Provide backstory on a great love he has lost in his life to explain why his heart has been hardened. Make it even more dramatic by describing an emotional journey (perhaps a sudden illness that took her away) that he endured with her.
- Give him a terminal illness.
- Make him a bully—only because he was bullied as a kid. (or not, if you prefer him to remain a bad guy)
- Give him a military history; perhaps he suffers from PTSD.
- Make him a single father because his wife/girlfriend (mother of the baby) died horrifically.
- If you really want to get interesting and think outside of the norm, make him a male prostitute in his mother’s brothel, where he grew up.
- Create a father whose child has been kidnapped by an unfit mother during a custody battle.
- Have her hate men because of her brother (instead of father for a change) molesting her as a child.
- Create a woman who doesn’t fall at the feet of her significant other but also doesn’t try to take the lead in the relationship. She respects family values.
- Give her a mental or terminal illness.
- Have her lose a loved one and have to deal with the grief.
- Have her lose a baby (miscarriage or after birth).
- Create a woman who lost her father at a young age and doesn’t know how to connect to men.
- Give her a position of authority over her male love interest.
- Give her and her spouse a situation of raising a foster child or adopted child.
- Give her an addiction of some sort.
- Give her a traumatic childhood experience—perhaps she saw her mother killed by her father, or saw her mother overdose on drugs, as a child.
- Create a tumultuous mother-daughter relationship, or a sibling rivalry situation.
- Have her best friend betray her somehow – perhaps she takes a job she wanted, or she tries to take over her family—it doesn’t always have to be about a man.
- Create a female best friend who is jealous of her.
- Create a female best friend who saves her life somehow.
- Create a woman who is afraid of something—perhaps a circus or fair because she was left at one as a kid.
These are just a few ideas to jump start the process of creating compelling characters. The list could go on and on.
Award-winning author of parenting, children’s, and romance titles
~Reviews keep authors writing~
Traci Sanders is a multi-genre, multi-award-winning author of ten published titles, with contributions to three anthologies. An avid blogger and supporter of Indie authors, she writes parenting, children’s, romance, and nonfiction guides.
Her ultimate goal is to provide great stories and quality content for dedicated readers, whether through her own writing or editing works by other authors.