By Cherry Adair, author of ICE COLD
Writing interesting characters – making them three dimensional- is the very heartbeat of a good story. Even if one’s plot is ho hum, if your reader connects with your characters you’ll keep them turning pages (and lining up to buy your next book and the next).
My first step in building an interesting character is their name. It shouldn’t be something unpronounceable with lots of letters and no vowels, or something so unusual that every time it’s on the page it slows down the reader as their brain stumbles over the unfamiliar. We don’t want readers spending the entire book trying to figure out how to pronounce a name.
I always give my main character’s a first, middle and last name. (What does their mother yell when she’s mad at them? lol) Even if you never use that middle name, you should know it. As soon as I name a character, I want to know what other people in the book are going to call them. Is it a nickname? A pet name? Is one character the only person that calls her by this particular name when everyone calls her something else? Do they like the name, hate the name, call themselves by another name?
Next find an image. I tend not to use celebrities because they already have characteristics I know. I look for a fresh face, a blank canvas, so my characters are mine, all mine.
Next I give them a birthday. I don’t allow myself to think about it, or read astrological signs – Do this fast. I just tell myself this characters birthday is March 21st 1992. Done. I do this for each major character, and that includes villains (it doesn’t have to be a mustache twirling bad guy – it could be the hero’s mother-in-law.) All the main characters have a birthday. Day, month and year. The most important thing with birthdays is you can not change it once you chose it! No matter what.
Once you have a birthday, research that astrological sign and you’ll see who your person is. Pick three to five character traits, and use at least once in every scene that character is in. No matter who’s POV you’re in. If the person is on the page, make sure they have characteristics individual to them. If this is who you want, you’re golden. You have all their characteristics under their sun sign, and you’re ready to write. What is the astrological sign isn’t who you want your character to be? Snoopy dance! But I love it when I inadvertently end up with a person I didn’t want, and have no desire to write. This is striking gold! (remember, no changing birthdays). If you have a meek and mild astrological sign, when the character you want is a kick butt, fire sign, then you need to go into their backstory and see what changed them from meek, to fire. Give them life experiences, learning curves, lessons in their past, things that have changed them (for better or worse). Make them who you want them to be, but be sure to motivate those changes.
New York Times bestselling author Cherry Adair’s innovative action-adventure novels have appeared on numerous bestsellers lists, won dozens of awards and garnered praise from reviewers and fans alike. With the creation of her kick butt counterterrorist group, T-FLAC, years before action adventure romances were popular, Cherry has carved a niche for herself with her sexy, sassy, fast-paced novels. She loves to hear from readers.
Her latest book is the romantic suspense novel, Ice Cold.
Visit Cherry Adair’s website at www.cherryadair.com.
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