Character Asks: Valentine’s Day Edition

I’ve decided to do something a little different on the blog this time around. I may even turn this into some sort of feature down the line. I’ve done book tags and writer tags in the past, but I’ve never done a character tag before. I used to interview my characters long ago way before I even started my blog. I enjoy getting to know my characters more though and thought it would be fun to create a new tag for characters. This time it’s Character Asks: Valentine’s Day Edition.

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George Florence & The Perfect Alibi

I’m juggling a lot of WIPs right now so, for this particular one I’m going to focus on the characters from my mystery novel, George Florence & The Perfect Alibi. These characters are the most developed and I have a lot of fun with them.

Is your main character single? If so, who would they spend Valentine’s Day with?

All of my characters are single except for Ebony, George’s older sister. With that said, George and Lilah would most likely spend the day together. Then again, they spend every day together. However, George would probably want to keep working throughout the day.

Do any of your characters have a crush?

As of right now, no. I do have plans for Lilah to develop a crush on a certain someone later in the series, but in book one, no. No one has any crushes on anyone else.

What’s the perfect date for your main character?

George would want to stay in and watch a movie or go for a nice walk in the park. He wouldn’t want to do anything too fancy but he’d want to get to know her as well. Lilah, on the other hand, would want to go out to eat – probably for burgers. But if she met someone who planned something simple, she wouldn’t mind.

Which character would go to Valentine’s Day dinner alone?

Caleb. He would probably order dinner for two and then pretend he got stood up. He’d get extra food and possibly a discount on the bill if his sob story was hardcore enough.

Which character hates Valentine’s Day?

George. There is a reason for this, but it would be spoilers for book two.

What turns your main character on?

Logical thinking turns George on. He gets very impressed and wants to give that person puzzles to solve or to help out on an investigation. Lilah doesn’t have too high of standards. If a man gives her coffee, she’s sold.

Which character just wants the candy?

Lilah. And probably Caleb.

Does your character feel as though they need a date for Valentine’s Day?

No. None of them really care too much about Valentine’s Day so none of them have a need to go out and celebrate. This isn’t just because their single either. George has his reasons, but Lilah believes every day is a good day to show friends, family, and significant others that you love them.

Which character would participate in something Valentine’s Day related for the sake of celebrating a holiday?

Caleb… probably to get that free candy!

Which character would take their best friend out?

George or Caleb. (Seriously, Caleb has become a much bigger part of the series than I originally meant for him to be.) George would do something special for Lilah as a thank you for all her help, but that’s it. It would just be the nice gesture. Caleb would gladly take Lilah out if it was something she truly wanted. They’ve developed a hardcore friendship with each other. Caleb would also fake being Lilah’s boyfriend if it was needed for whatever reason.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this character ask. Feel free to answer these questions with your own characters and WIPs. If you do, please link back to this post as well as let me know you participated. I’d love to see some other answers!

Can you answer these with some of your characters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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5 Ways To Show Character Development

Telling you how to show character development in your novel is like me telling you how to write a book. It’s obvious, but it’s not. It’s easier said than done, yet you do it without realizing it. It’s probably stuff you already know about.

Still, sometimes a quick reminder is needed. It’s nice to see it laid out in a blog post. I know it is for me.

Maybe these posts help me more than anyone else.

1. Decide what your characters’ motivations are

Just like what we talked about the other day. Why are your characters in your story? What is their purpose? Why do they care about the plot and what do they contribute to it? What would they do in certain situations?

2. Give your characters flaws

No one is perfect. You can learn a lot about a character through their positive traits, but I feel like flaws can show a little more. Some flaws can be unexpected and they can come out in some interesting scenarios.

3. Give your characters internal conflict

The plot is important, yes, but everyone is fighting a battle no one else truly knows about. Giving your characters an internal conflict makes them more realistic and, depending on what it is, it can raise the stakes a bit. It gives insight into their thoughts, reasons behind their actions, and shows off their personality a little.

4. Use action and dialogue to your advantage

You can tell a lot about your characters through their actions, decisions, word choice, and tone. Using descriptive action and clever dialogue can show your readers a lot about your characters and I’m sure you’ll learn a lot too.

5. Allow your characters to surprise you

Most often than not, your characters will end up writing themselves. You can plan them all you want, but once you start writing they’ll try to take over. Let them because they have many ideas up their sleeve.

How else do you show character development? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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How To Show Your Character’s Backstory [Character Development]

This month we’ve talked a lot about what shapes a character and what makes our characters great characters who stand out. We’ve talked about different ways to develop our characters in many different ways.

One great way to develop our characters is to shy away from the main story. Not too much of course, but getting to know your characters on a deeper level, especially for your readers, is a surefire way to develop your characters.

Why Is Your Character’s Backstory Important?

We all have a backstory and giving your character’s a backstory shows significant events that happened in the past before the main plot of your novel occurs. Some events and decisions that are made in the past have a connection to something that will happen in the present or future. There are a cause and effect for everything.

Knowing certain parts of your character’s backstory is important because it shows how your character came to be and allows some insight into who they are and where they came from for your readers. Plus, it helps you as the writer to get to know your own character a bit.

How Can You Show Your Character’s Backstory?

Add balance – Avoid info dumping

When showing your backstory, show bits and pieces of it at a time. You don’t want to overwhelm your readers with flashbacks and mini-stories that may or may not have anything to do with the main plot. Spread it out and only explain some backstory when it shows a character’s growth through the main story.

Show past events that shape your character

Why did they make a certain decision? Maybe something similar happened in their past and your character doesn’t want to make the same mistake. You can show what happened in the past or have your character explain what happened to other characters.

Make sure the backstory is relevant to the plot

Adding to the previous point, if you’re going to reveal some part of your character’s past, make sure it has something to do with the main plot. You don’t want to be explaining something completely out of left field. It will confuse your readers making them wonder why they need to know that, why it’s important. Only add relevant information.

Remember the backstory is not the main point of the story

Some people write prequels or even novellas based on certain characters. I’m good with those, go for it. However, if you’re writing the main novel make sure the backstory doesn’t overshadow the main plot. If a novella based on a certain character is planned, I don’t see why you can’t leave a slight cliffhanger in some backstory. Of course, again, don’t make it super prominent and don’t tease your readers with it making them forget about the main plot.

What other advice do you have for showing backstory? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Giving Your Characters Motivation [Character Development]

In real life, everyone has something they’re working towards. We all have a purpose, try to stand out, and – hopefully – do the right thing.

This goes for your characters as well. They’re all trying to live either own lives in the fictional world you created. They’re trying to stand out to your readers and they have a purpose to aid the plot in moving further.

In order to get to know your characters on a deeper level and figure out what they’re purpose is, you need to know one thing. Their motivations.

What Is Motivation?

Motivation allows your readers to figure out who the characters are and why they make the choices they make. It’s because of their motivations that the story is able to keep moving forward. However, it’s some decisions based on your characters that will make that good or bad.

Where Does Motivation Come From?

Motivation can come from anywhere, anything, and everyone. One thing can influence your character for better or worse.

Childhood

Depending on whether your character had a happy childhood or not can show who they are as an adult. Certain experiences will remain in the back of their minds that they’ll take with them to adulthood.

Environment

Your character’s surroundings have a lot do with how they’ll act as well. Are they around good-hearted people? Chances are they’ll be influenced to make similar decisions. Are they happy where they are or not?

Personality Traits

Any trait you give your character will stand out and show who your character is. For example, if you have a character with an ambitious mind, chances are they may be a workaholic. How would that affect their home life? Their friends?

How Do You Show Motivation?

Action

Every action has a reaction. One of the best ways to reveal your character is to show them doing something. Is there a problem? How do they solve it? There are a cause and effect for everything, think about how each situation will change your character in a way.

Dialogue/Thoughts

Your character will reveal a lot about himself if we’re able to see inside his head. His interactions with other characters will certainly show that as well. How does he act around people he likes? Dislikes? A crowd?

Let Your Reader Infer

You don’t need to reveal absolutely everything. Leave some room to show what your character is capable of, but allow your reader to get a feel for the character by inferring certain traits about them. Let them discover it for themselves and they’ll be eager to see what happens next.

What are some motivations you give your characters? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Character Basics: Physical Appearance [Character Development]

We’re all unique from one another, we all look and appear differently. Yes, people have identical twins or doppelgangers hanging around in other parts of the world, but we’re all made up differently.

Our appearance ranges from different hairstyles, body size and shape, the clothes we wear, and much more. There’s a lot to think about when you’re trying to paint a picture of multiple people in your stories for your readers.

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Features To Think About

  • Height and weight
  • Body type
  • Eyes/eyebrows (shape, color)
  • Hair (style, length, color)
  • Skin (looks, feels, color)
  • Face (shape, facial hair)
  • Nose/ears
  • Mouth/teeth
  • Arms/hands
  • Legs/feet
  • Distinguishing features (makeup, scars, freckles, etc.)
  • Clothing style

When creating your character, it’s good for you to know most, if not all, of these features. Of course, your readers don’t need every nitty-gritty detail. I mean, you don’t typically describe your characters’ eyebrows, do you?

No, but if you want to get the whole picture for you, then it’s something to think about when you’re sketching out your characters.

How To Describe Your Characters

1. Use figurative language

You don’t need to straight up tell your readers, “Rachel had brown hair and blue eyes.” You want your readers to be able to picture Rachel and infer for themselves what she looks like. Yes, there will be some things you can blurt out, but for the most part, you want to show, not tell.

2. Describe facial expressions

A big way to show off facial features is to describe their expressions. Did someone tell a funny joke? How do they laugh? Do they show their teeth? When they cry, does makeup run down their face? Are they an ugly crier?

3. Describe throughout the story

I’ve read books where a new character is introduced and then there’s a paragraph or two all about them. It can work, but I always found it better to show how the character looks and acts the deeper you get into the story. First impressions are fine, but we don’t need to know their looks top to bottom right away.

4. Show description through actions

It’s easy to visualize what your characters look like when they show off how they act. For example, maybe a character plays with their hair when they’re nervous. Or maybe they’re reapplying lipstick while gossiping with a friend.

5. Allow characters to comment on each other

We all have an opinion on something and so do your characters. Your main character, especially in the first person, can comment on the other characters. Maybe your protagonist likes or dislikes them, but why? Do they smell? Is their hair greasy or does it look better than theirs?

6. Show the way they move

You can tell a lot by a person and their mood at how they move. Do they slouch? Do they move slow? Do they take big steps when walking?

7. Make it important to know

You don’t need to describe every inch of your characters. Like I said before, your characters’ eyebrows aren’t really important. Unless they dye them or shave them off or something… the point is, not everything is important. You can always leave room for your readers’ imagination.

8. Less is more

Going along with the point above, you don’t need to describe everything. Not just because it may not be important, but so that your readers can infer themselves.

9. Check yourself out

A fun exercise can be to look at yourself in the mirror. Describe what you see, make different facial expressions and describe those. Look at photographs, old and new, and describe the people you see. Make up some new features if you want.

What other tips do you have for describing your characters? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to chat!

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