Marketing for Romance Writers Magazine October, 2018 Volume # 1, Issue # 10 - Page 14

OCTOBER, 2018 PEEPS AND PREDICAMENTS: WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR CHARACTER AND WITH WHOM By: Alice Orr Last month, I talked about how to “Create Captivating Characters.” The month before that it was “How to Create a Great Main Charac- ter.” I keep harping on character creation because characters are the heart of strong storytelling. If you make your characters come to life on the page, they will make that heart beat with a rhythm which captivates your reader. First, we discovered why your main character is so important. How your main character‟s story is what connects you with the reader, the avenue by which you draw her in and make her care. Once you have made her care, she is hooked, and that narrative hook is essential to writing a successful story. The reader must become emotionally involved with your character, not just a little, but in- tensely. Next, we examined how to make your readers care so intensely about your character. Then, we dug deeper to make your reader care even more—how to tie us emotionally to her fate, until we long for only good things to happen to her. Which means that you, as a storyteller, must frustrate our hopes for her by mak- ing bad things happen to this character you‟ve seduced us into loving. I never said your job as a writer was to be kind to 14 your characters, or your readers either. Now, we move not only deep, but closer in to the individual person your character will be. You accomplish that by conjuring a context for your character. Peeps and Predicaments. What has happened to your character in her life, especially her predicaments: physical, emotional, psychological. Plus, the peo- ple who had the first, huge effect on her life, her most pivotal peeps, those who loved her and wished her well, as we do, or may have failed to do so. You need a single, specific main character to do this work, and you must give her a name. Naming your character gives her substance and reality, especially in your own consciousness as her creator. Crafting the specific substance and reality of your character‟s context is your goal at this stage of your storytelling. The con- text of your character as a person, the details which may or may not appear in your story but, either way, will immerse you, the writer, in her humanity. You must delve into the central self of your character by becoming her. Here‟s how. Respond to each of the fol- lowing questions in the first person, us- ing “I.” Respond as your character, not telling us about her but being her and speaking in her voice. Concentrate on how you, your character, feel about each question. Answer more from your char- acter‟s gut than from her head. Be spe- cific, avoid theories and abstractions alto- gether if possible. This is where the fun happens, “the magical mystery tour” of yourself as your character. What family member do you con- sider yourself closest to, and what would you say is the deepest, most true reason for that closeness? What member of your family are you most distant from? How did this distance begin, and why does it persist to this day? What was the most memorable ex- perience of your childhood? Recreate the scene if you can. What is the most important me- mento you have saved from your grow- ing-up years? Why have you saved it for so long, and where do you keep it? What incident in your life made you most angry? When in your life were you most frightened? What is the single thing you most yearn for in life? What is the saddest thing that has ever happened to you? When in your life were you most happy? Continued on Page 15 8