Tuesday, August 15, 2023

3T Writing Tidbit

How about delving into another of the three elements of story: character? (The three elements being character, setting, and plot 😄) I'm not going to go in any special order with these. 

Here's a provocative sentence I came across: 

Archetypes are masks of a complete human being.

Last month I unpacked archetype. Let's look at the mask.

 Literal masks usually represent supernatural beings, ancestors, imagined figures, or non-human beings.

Literary masks are the representation of an ideal worn by a character. As such, they keep that character separate/distanced from change, contradiction, interaction with other people, and even fully understanding themselves.

The character's mask is formed by their attitudes and actions (but not reactions) and are usually a conscious commitment to the identity of the mask.

An example of a mask: I am a truthful person. (No real person is entirely truthful.) When faced with a situation in which the truth would cause harm, I don't lie, I only embroider what I say a little. (Note the denial of reality. When this character is caught in a lie, they will deny it to themselves (action) but feel bad for some unknown reason (reaction).)

Published since 2009, over the years I've accumulated various items of writing wisdom. The Third Tuesday Writing Tidbit showcases these items in no particular order. Click here to see all 3T Tidbits.

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

2T Repeat Performance - How do you develop your characters?

I've done a number of blog tours over the years, posting on different sites. Now I'm bringing them to you!

Originally published August 20, 2012 for Blackraven Erotic Cafe

How do you develop your characters for the Biting Love series?

 Take a strong man and a strong woman, throw them into an explosive situation, stir and serve!

Okay, it’s not quite as easy as that :) Let me explain by first breaking it into pieces.

Developing the Hero—I love strong men, but there are different kinds of strong. My vampire heroes are all powerful, handsome, smart, with deep voices that buzz along your spine…you get the picture :) But each hero has unique traits. Master vampire Bo carries the responsibility for the whole town of Meiers Corners (thank goodness he has miles-wide shoulders). Julian, a lawyer, is hella smart. Each hero also has at least one emotional scar; and one quirk that drives the heroine nuts (just like real life couples :).

Biting Oz’s hero is black-haired, sapphire-eyed bodyguard Glynn Rhys-Jenkins. This vampire is determined and loyal. He’s also a bit of an enigma. When visiting Meiers Corners, the first thing he does is set up a table of homey knickknacks. That’s his scar; he had no true home as a child and is searching for one.

Developing the Heroine—My women are independent women who earn their own way. They’re not looking for a man to take care of them, or even a male who can complement them—they’re looking for the guy who can keep up with them. Each has a major hurdle to overcome, usually tied to the theme of the story and most often in direct conflict with the hero’s issue. For example, while Julian keeps strict control of his vampire nature, Nixie is all about personal freedom of expression.

In Biting Oz, heroine Gunter Marie “Junior” Stieg is a musician whose strong sense of family duty keeps her stuck working in her parents’ sausage store. But she dreams of heading for Broadway. This conflicts nicely with Glynn’s need to find a real home.

Developing Others—The plot suggests people our heroine must meet. They usually lay flat on the page until I remember to flip them one-eighty. Example: cop Elena needed a partner. The cop stereotype is tough, street-smart, closed-lipped and stocky. So I paired her with gangly, clueless, lips-flapping Dirk. Taking a stereotype and adding a twist tickles me almost as much—in Biting Oz, beautician and town gossip Dolly Barton (some say the FBI get their best tips from Dolly) drops a stunning vampire secret on Junior.

Combining more than one purpose in a single character adds richness. Nixie, heroine in Biting Nixie, plays in the pit orchestra with Junior and also runs the townhouse where Glynn stays. She urges Junior to find out what’s behind his mysterious table of knickknacks.

Putting It All Together—So those are the pieces! I work them around until they fit, then augment each other. I have dozens of heroes and heroines floating around in my head, and it can take months of trying various combinations until a pair clicks. Then I go back and forth between character, theme and plot, sharpening each against the other. Start the book with an explosive meet (Junior’s blocked by a sea of Munchkin kids—Glynn picks her up and carries her over their heads) and away we go!