Thursday, November 17, 2011

Would He Really Do That?

Audra here!

Before I start ruminating on the unique flaws of characters, I have a confession to make. I was without Internet for a whole four days and missed the Seeker Sightings deadline for Seekerville Weekend Edition. Bad me. So I apologize for this random mention of Casey Herringshaw’s 2nd Blogiversary Party, but, I’m part of the party today along with Seeker friends Lisa Jordan and Jessica Nelson!! After your fill of snacks and chit chat here in Seekerville, mozy on over there and say hi!

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

As a writer of romantic fiction, my imagination creates worlds I secretly wish I could participate in, even if it’s just as a sideline spectator. I’d much rather watch from a distance and stand in awe at how characters work themselves out of situations I’d rather just step away from.

But we can’t do that and expect to write a book filled with laughter, tears, conflict and resolution, can we? Bummer, isn’t it? So often I wish the psychological makeup of my characters would just roll off my fingertips as I type their POV scene. Or respond with clever, witty retorts that I only think of days later if posed with the same situation.

All I know how to be is me. I don’t even understand my own children and I believe I had a small part in creating them, LOL! How am I supposed to create and breathe life into fictional people who can do, say and live the experiences I only wish I could?
 
I must confess people are a mystery to me. Why do folks gravitate for the hustle and bustle of large cities while others yearn for wide, open spaces? Why would television commercials artfully mislead the buyer into purchasing their product when, upon receipt, the true quality and capabilities will be revealed? Why does one man spend his life amassing a great monetary fortune while another prizes limitless literary wisdom?

Why did the cellular phone representative paint a lovely picture of the utopia I’d experience using their service over my current provider and then offer me nothing more than the offhanded “oops” when I brought to his attention my cell phone is practically DEAD at our house?

Honestly, how do some people sleep at night?

And why do we long to mix this dichotomy of personalities into our books when we haven’t a clue what makes them tick?

Sometimes you have to work at your craft YEARS before the answers to some of your most pressing questions slip into your consciousness.

For me, I needed to go back to Characters 101 to discover the reason my plots - though well thought out in theory - became contrived once I set my characters on the scene. Contrived? What an ugly word. Still, you can’t ignore reality if enough people remark on it. How can I un-contrive my stories when I have a tendency to guide my characters through the motions, finding solutions to their problems the way my own nature tends to solve issues?

I began to research personality types. And in that research I stumbled onto the basic universal truth – characters without problems have no reason to learn, grow and change.

Ewwww. I hate problems. I hate conflict.
Ewwww!

In my distaste for the essence of conflict, I started looking for a research book to guide me through the rabbit warren that is human nature. Something to help me understand and support characters so opposite my own nature. Something that explained to me why people did the things they did.

I found it. Believable Characters: Creating With Enneagrams by Laurie Schnebly.

Using the basic personality concept I had created for my characters, I found it easy to identify which personality types they were. For the most part, I had my hero’s nature nailed, for all the good and noble aspects. What I needed, but couldn’t see, were the obstacles he had to overcome. C'mon, my hero is perfect, right? 

Enter: The Fatal Flaws

Along your character’s journey, they not only have to reach Happily Ever After, but ideally, they reach it a better character than page 1 of the book. I have to admit, this was a key element I was leaving out. Sure my characters changed and grew, but not along any specific route. Identifying the Fatal Flaw in my character’s personality has not only helped me understand other facets of my character, but it helps me to help them overcome obstacles strewn in their path through their own eyes, utilizing every nerve ending that jumps to attention when anxiety/joy/fear/etc buttons are pushed.

My characters are now acting/reacting as THEY should – not as I would or the plot dictates.

I’m feeling rather giddy with the power of knowledge. How about you?

Knowing my character down to the essence in their little toes, I’m finding it quite impossible to write my characters into a corner. I still map out a general plot, but as Cap’n Jack’s wily pirate cohorts would say, the plot map is more like a guideline. How hero and heroine get from point A to Z is completely up to them…with a minute manipulating from me : ) Like any child, your characters need boundaries, what they don’t need are loading chutes.

Give them the majestic mountains of Colorado to explore, or the social chasms of historical peasants vs. nobility to hurdle, or even something as simple as deciding which dress and jewelry will make the right statement. That statement is theirs to make, you just take dictation.

And edit.

When necessary.

I could go on and on about the doors…nay, floodgates…of inspiration this little book has opened for me. I’d like to make it a part of your reference library, too. If you think it might help you, leave a comment and mention you’d like to be in the drawing.
 
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Don’t forget to stop by Casey’s Blogiversary Party and say hi to Jessica, Lisa and me, too!!

Stop by the buffet and help yourself to all dishes apple. You'll find Apple Crisp, Apple Pie, Apple Pizze with almonds and raisins, fruit compote and my favorite, steel cut oatmeal with chunky apples and walnuts on the side. Of course I've got URNS of coffee ready and your choice of Honey Apple tea or Spicy Apple Cider.

Yumbola!

98 comments :

  1. Hey Audra,

    Still chortling over this: offer me nothing more than the offhanded “oops” when I brought to his attention my cell phone is practically DEAD at our house?

    We must have the same guy! Only one service provider works here...

    Wonderful post. YES, please put me in the drawing. Thank you. Sounds just like what I need! may at maythek9spy dot com

    YUMBOLA is right... MMMM. Will mozy on over after I'm done here! Thanks for the heads up!

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  2. Oh, yeah, I need this little book. Put me in. Several times if you wish. :)

    Outa the way. Here comes the coffee pot.

    Helen

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  3. I'm putting this book in my Amazon cart in case I don't win!

    Creating characters with that fatal flaw is such a challenge for me. I want them to be perfect - why mess with perfection? But at the same time, I want them to have the HEA ending with both of them better and stronger people than the way they started out.

    The big problem for me is to show their flaws, but still make them someone you want to spend time with...

    Yup, I think I need this book...

    Thanks for the apple everything, Audra!

    And I'm heading over to Casey's blog. I haven't had a chance to visit yet today...

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  4. Sign me up for the drawing, I put it on my wishlist though if you fail to draw my name. You will draw my name. (My first attempt at a Jedi mind trick, did it work? )

    Yep, don't understand those city dwelling people, not one bit. When I look down the road past my eastern pasture, I can see 3 neighbors, can even hear one of them sometimes when he's calling his horses and I get to feeling claustrophobic.

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  5. Love this! I also love any kind of apple as long as it is cooked, or drizzled in chocolate or caramel (or all three).
    I would love to read this book and glean from it!
    Thanks for sharing the post.

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  6. WAIT??? There's a book??? I've been going to 6 different therapists and pretending to be my characters and then sneaking back to read their notes on my 'case' after hours. :D

    Seriously, I'm so glad this book exists. I need to get one ASAP.


    Melissa, ha! I WILL draw your name... it worked on me!

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  7. I was guilty of having a too-perfect hero in my story, which my wise agent pointed out to me. During my major rewrite of the story, I gave that too-good-to-be-true guy some flaws, and he became a much more realistic--and ultimately more likeable--character.

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  8. Sounds like just what I need, again! Please enter me in the drawing.

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  9. Thank you for the wonderful post. Please, please, please enter me into your drawing. I can use all the help I can get.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  10. My house is a cell phone dead zone, too. Which only leads me to believe if there are that many of us here, they need to IMPROVE things.

    Sheesh and Pshaw.

    Audra, apple everything??? I'M SO IN!!!! I love me some apples here in upstate NY, New York's apple growing capital!

    Characters... deepening them... seeing them... I agree, this is the huge essential to any good book. Nail those babies down (not really, nailing babies is FROWNED UPON IN THIS ESTABLISHMENT) and keep them in character...

    Which is easier said than done, I know!

    Grabbing coffee with pumpkin spice creamer and loving it!

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  11. Hi Audra,

    I'm actually one of those maniacal writers who likes giving their heroes and heroines flaws. Hey, if I can't be perfect no one gets to be perfect. And I like to watch them work their way through it all and hopefully (if I do my job) come out better for it.

    But I can always use the help, so please put my name in the hat for the book.

    --Kirsten
    kanavyhist[at]aol[dot]com

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  12. Virginia - LOL! My DH is a therapist. I should make him start doing that with me.

    Audra darling!!!! Wonderful post!

    Oh dear. I want to say something wonderful and witty and perhaps perform a Jedi mind trick or two of my own, but I'm way too tired for that.

    Was up late grading tests and papers. But I did manage over 2300 words and passed 15K for the month :).

    Wish I could sleep but it's time to head to school...

    I'd love to be in the drawing!

    carolmoncado at gmail dot com

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  13. I need this book NOW, but can't decide if I want the ebook or the print book.

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  14. Hey KC! Cell phones are the most frustrating devices ever created. And really? Our home is a DEAD ZONE for my phone?

    Life is just not fair.

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  15. Mornin' Helen. Ahhh, sipping coffee and dissecting characters. Can't think of anything else I'd like to do, LOL!

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  16. Jan, I know exactly how you feel. Why mess with perfection? He is, after all, the HERO.

    But after studying his personality, the fatal flaws listed makes sense. Your flaws can enhance you if you handle them probably.

    I love handling my heros : )

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  17. LOL, Melissa! Claustrophobic when your neighbor calls his horses. I can relate.

    We have the best of both worlds. If you face north, there is a very pricey subdivision which we affectionately refer to as "the projects". Very nice area to walk the dog.

    If you face the south, you see nothing but hay and corn with a smattering of houses here and there.

    No horses that we own, but my daughter works summers for one of the largest horse operations in the west. In the winter, they bring their older horses down from the mountain stables to winter in the fields surrounding our house.

    A couple hundred curious horses all winter...now that can get claustrophobic!!

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  18. Hi Jodi! Apples are in season along the western slope of Colorado. Mmmmmm. Crisp, fresh and juicy.

    Apples+chocolate+peanutbutter.

    Ahhhhhhhh.

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  19. Audra, I just ordered the ebook! If it doesn't WORK here, I'm calling YOU! lol

    Can you give us an example of a personality type and maybe a fatal flaw and how you applied that to a character?

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  20. I liked reading this post today, and wow all these yummy apple desserts-I want one of each with coffee.
    characters I dont know how you come up with them but keep on doing it because I have met a really large amount to great folks in my books, I love the series where you get to watch them grow almost like real-life.
    Thank you authors for your talant and for sharing with us readers.
    I would love to be in your drawing. Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)

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  21. LOL Virginia! Will you please share your notes?

    This whole enneagram thing is just what my tired little brain needed. In one book, I FINALLY understood why my characters would do the things to lead a story forward.

    I hate the word contrived. Really. It makes my skin just bristle (since I don't have fur). But it's exactly how my stories read.

    So stop paying for therapists, LOL!! If you don't win, go get the book in E-format or print...or both like I did : )

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  22. Keli, isn't that how it works? You mean they're not perfect? Oh contrare!

    Personally, I don't like perfect PEOPLE. Why should I like the perfect characters in a book?

    I like my characters rough around th edges, thank you : )

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  23. Mary, thanks for joining us and please, help yourself to a slice of the apple pizza.

    My personal favorite : )

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  24. Cindy, ha! You and me both, sister. I need all the help I can get from anyone who cares!

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  25. I want to have an apple orchard someday. One of those things on my bucket list, I guess.

    Upstate New York is famous for lots of things, Ruthy babe! It has YOU!

    Your characters are amazing. When I grow up, I want to be just like Ruth...

    Or at least my characters do, LOL!

    Pumpkin spice creamer. Limited engagement. Consume now!

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  26. Audra, no need to put me in a drawing. But I did have an observation.

    It always tickles me that authors often are introverts who create the most extroverted characters. It is a gift to be able to project all the things we are not. I think we take that for granted sometimes with our favorite writers.

    As far as fatal flaws go, as I mention other times, a character who is perfect is never my favorite. I agree with Jan. It can be a fine line between flaws we appreciate as humans and disliking the character for them. Then again, isn't it said we dislike people who remind us of ourselves?

    Thanksgiving blessings. I have added my daughter's famous applebutter bars to the mix. I actually made them with her when she was little but she has taken the recipe to new heights.

    Peace, Julie

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  27. Kristen, honey. You are one in a million! You've got kind of a Flaws-R-Us thing going, huh?

    What I wouldn't give to be able to build a character from the flaws out. But isn't that exactly what we do when the villian of one book becomes the hero of another?

    Just read Mary Connealy. She's a master. Oh, and toss in a little Julie Lessman, too.

    Talk about rehibilitating characters. These ladies are masters.

    Me? I feel like I"m pricking my babies with pins when I take the sandpaper to them.

    Ouch.

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  28. Good Morning Audra,

    What a great article about characters and of course your giveaway will be a wonderful addition to any writer's shelf.

    Laurie Schnebly Campbell was a visitor here in Seekerville and talked about the fatal flaws and character therapy.

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  29. Audra, this was a great post. And before I forget, yes! PLEASE enter me in the drawing. This book sounds fabulous. As I'm doing NaNo, I'm realizing that I need to know more about my characters. I thought I had my story pretty well planned out (and I do), but now that I'm 30K+ words into my writing, I'm seeing I have some more unearthing to do about my hero and heroine.

    Thanks for sharing your own foibles as you learn the craft of writing your characters, and how it's helped you to know them so well their stories flow. :)

    Just so you know, I don't have plans to get rid of my land line yet yet. My home doesn't cooperate with the bars on my phone either.

    The western slope of Colorado is beautiful in the fall--and full of apples? Yum. Digging into the snacks. Never tried apples with carmel AND peanut butter. Gonna have to start there. :) With coffee of course.

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  30. WooHoo, Carol! Bells and whistles going off for you, girlfriend! 15K so far this month? That's on fire!

    I had to bow out of NANO this year. Why too much on my plate to place the strain of writing 50K in a month. I did it last year. Felt good. Wonderful.

    Got NANO penciled in for next year. In the meantime, catch some sleep sweets. Or pour lots of coffee.

    Coffee works for me.

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  31. Pammy, I bought both. AND I can open my Kindle on my computer, so actually, I've got it in 3 versions.

    Am I sick?

    No, just desperate.

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  32. Audra, thanks for the post on character. And the importance of giving our characters serious flaws. Laurie's Believable Characters sounds like a terrific resource. Your post underscores that making up believable people is not easy!

    Love the apple buffet!

    Off to vist Casey's Blogivesary.

    Janet

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  33. Okay, I think I'm ADD today. I started here and ended up at Casey's blog. Then almost forgot to come back!! Gee thanks, Audra! I'm already feeling scattered, and it's not even 10 am.

    :)

    Great post!! Since Audra and I are twins separated at birth, we have some of the same writing problems. I took Laurie Schnebly's class and learned so much from her! This is a great book!

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  34. Oh Audra, I needed this.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Ruthy, in her usual gentle and loving way, is trying to guide me through deep thinking about character motivation and flaws, but I'm with you - I really like my heroes in all their perfection ;-)

    But in all honesty, the greatest scuplted masterpieces of all time had missing arms, legs, ears...whatever. Who's perfect? LOL

    Even in fantasy

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  35. Hey, Audra!!! I remember us talking about this at the conference and I tried to give you advice. I said, all you need is a troubled childhood to fall back on for lots of angst and pain and skewed motivations. Alas, you didn't have that. So I said you needed to read the memoirs that are so popular today, the ones where the kids are running with scissors, or their daddy is giving them a star for Christmas while they have to rummage through garbage cans for food.

    Okay, so that wasn't the best advice I ever gave.

    I'm so glad you found this book! Hooray for you! I probably need it too! Even though I do have some angst and pain in my past (heck, I have it in my present!) to fall back on, I always need more. I don't want my books to all sound the same. So please put me in the drawing!

    Thanks, Audra!!! And keep writing, because your first book was WON-DER-FUL. And you pick good names for your heroines, too.

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  36. Thank you for this post! It sounds like this book could help add lots of layers to a character. Please put me in the drawing.
    lostie815(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  37. I was asked recently if I prefer writing plots or characters and I answered plots. Characters remain my biggest challenge (along with the fact that my cell phone service stinks at my house as well).

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  38. AUDRA!!! Boy, did I need this today, my friend -- you jogged a few nuts loose in my brain, which was badly needed so I could retighten the screws in my characters from The Cousins McClare.

    You said: "How hero and heroine get from point A to Z is completely up to them … That statement is theirs to make, you just take dictation.

    OH-MY-GOODNESS!!! SOOOO very true, at least for we pantsters!!! With this new series I'm writing, I've learned it's one thing to write a book where characters have already been fleshed out in a number of prior books with their own independent personalities. Duh ... you just let them go and do their thing. But new ones??? YIKES!! I'd forgotten how tough that can be to nail their reactions, their thoughts, their fears to the page with an authenticity that will grip the reader by the throat ... ahem, something I am truly fond of doing! :)

    Thank you for this nugget of redirection today, sweetie, because Cassie McClare has NO earthly idea how her life is about to change ... :) (evil laugh here).

    Love you!
    Julie

    P.S. You also said: "I don’t even understand my own children and I believe I had a small part in creating them!" LOL ... join the club! I'm better at understanding my characters than I am my children, which is a sad state of affairs for sure. :)

    P.S.P.S. I went to Casey's blog, but only Jessica was up so far -- am I missing something???

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  39. Awesome post!

    Mmm... I love apple stuff!

    And, yes, I'd love to have this book! Please add me to the drawing. :D

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  40. Cell phones work at my house, if you stand by the kitchen window. Facing out, lean toward the window.

    But we're talking about characters, right? Not griping about electronics?

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  41. There are so many techniques for creating characters. Interviewing them...for example.
    I never do this because I seem to need to DISCOVER them by WRITING about them.

    I'm better at it, faster now, than I used to be. It wasn't uncommon for me to write about 100 pages of a book before I'd hit the Ah Ha moment and suddenly KNOW my character. Heroes seem to be more of a struggle than heroines. Not always.

    The series I'm on now has, for heroes
    The control freak
    The shallow charmer
    The lunatic

    But then you've got to figure out WHY they're a control freak, a shallow charmer and a lunatic. Backstory begins here. They can't just BE, there needs to be a reason.

    I've had some luck with The Birth Order book which talks about birth order's affect on developing a personality. And the interesting thing is the way the author talksa about a basic personality that someone is born with, then how it's SHAPED by the birth order. So some people are naturally reserved. But then they're the oldest child. So they tend to take charge and run things, but in a reserved way.

    I'm just paraphrasing here and the book would only give you the most fundemental character types. But then you're on your own.

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  42. I'd love to read a book on character development - thanks for this opportunity!

    gwen[dot]gage[at]gmail[dot]com

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  43. Audra,

    You have no idea how timely your post is for me!!! I'm in the middle of my wip for Nano and my great plot outline is starting to unravel because now that I know my heroine, she's not behaving like I had planned!

    Before I opened this blog, I had been going over and over how I was going to get her to do what I wanted her to do!! LOL.

    Thanks for the tip on the book. I will definitely check it out!

    Cheers,
    Sue
    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

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  44. Fun post, Audra!

    But first...

    Laughing at the cell phone dead zone reports! When we were living in an apartment for 3 months while waiting to get into our new home, there was no way to talk on a cell without standing right next to the patio door or else going all the way outside. It was so funny going for walks around the complex and seeing all these people walking around aimlessly talking on their phones--obviously having the same problem!

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  45. Mary said: "I never do this because I seem to need to DISCOVER them by WRITING about them."

    This is so ME!

    And you know what? I own at least a dozen books on characterization and personality analysis.

    But do I take time with each book to actually apply any of that to my characters? Uh-uh. They just sort of "tell" me about themselves.

    And I believe them.

    How sick is that?

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  46. Mary and Myra, when I wait to discover them, I find I discover what I want to about them, LOL!

    I take people at their word, most of the time. How in world can I tell if a character is lying if I don't know why they're lying and why in the world would they lie to me?

    Very confusing world.

    I like the black and white of a how-to book : )

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  47. applebutter bars????

    Applebutter bars????

    How could such a thing be even remotely BAD?????

    I'm in.

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  48. Audra, fantastic post, and so timely for many of us, it seems! Please put me in the drawing for the book.

    I'm kind of like Mary, I need to write about my characters more to get to know them. In fact, as I'm working through my second draft, I realize I know my characters so much better now, and I'm adding in a lot more things, because I KNOW them now.

    You talked about adding flaws to a character. I'm not against that by any means, because it makes a character more interesting. Funny, though, it reminds that I was once criticized by a writing classmate in college because he thought I was "afraid to make my characters bad." I was slightly offended, until I remembered this was the guy who wrote a story about two people who beat each other bloody while being intimate and rolling around in a vat of dough. (I needed brain bleach after reading that one for class!) I decided that this guy wanted my characters to be "bad," not flawed. Big difference.

    I'm going to drop by an apple cream cheese tart for the buffet. It's coming to Thanksgiving dinner next week!

    ~Stephanie
    stephludwig at hotmail dot com

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  49. Julie HS, you are so right about introverts writing extrovert characters. Why do we do this?

    Living the fantasy.

    I need to gather all the info I can on personality types so I can understand why someone would behave the way they do.

    Sheesh. Not an easy business.

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  50. JeanneT, you are a dear. I'll share my foibles with whomever listens, LOL!

    No way are we ever giving up our landline!

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  51. Janet, Missy, I have a hard time believing either of you have a difficult time creating characters. I always feel so much of you in your books.

    Goes to show how well rounded you are : )

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  52. And yes, by all means, go visit Casey's party, but remember to come back!!

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  53. I have cell-dead spots in my house too, but it's esp bad in my office which is at the front of my house (former living room, lol) and if a train is passing by four blocks from here, forget it! I can see a cell tower from my front window, so what's that about? Does it mean the waves are too high to meet me at 5 ft 6? Ok, so shorter when I'm sitting, but you get what I mean.

    Great post Audra, and so timely as I edit my WIP. Since you brought it up, I will keep a closer eye on personality consistency. Gee, this should be easy for me. As a psych major, I took six classes in personality study, lol.

    LyndeeH

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  54. Hi Audra:

    Great post! I love characters and psychology. But I’m going to be difficult. : )

    Sometimes I think writers can make things too difficult for themselves. A character is already an abstraction. A psychoanalyzed character is a second order abstraction. The writer’s goal is to make characters come alive. To make them concrete. Each level of abstraction makes this task more difficult.

    My view is that characters should adapt to meet the needs of the story in order to produce the best reading experience and not vice versa. Who’s the boss: the author or the character?

    “Would he do that?” Let me put it this way: X will always do Y if given sufficient motivation.

    Make the character adapt to the motivation needed for the story but don’t change the story to kowtow to the whims of the character. (Is that ever a biased choice of words? : ) )

    While superheroes need fatal flaws or else there is no story, I don’t believe ordinary heroes need fatal flaws. A fatal flaw is even somewhat formulaic. An ordinary man facing extraordinary stressors can produce sufficient conflict to fuel a story without needing a fatal flaw.

    My current favorite hero is Sterling Wade in “The Price of Victory” and if he has a fatal flaw it is being too nice. (Sorry, but I just love this book because the inspirational story clearly comes first.) Indeed, sometimes the best flaw is having an excess of viture.

    To quote:

    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master that’s all.”


    Who is the master?

    Actually my head is spinning from too much NaNo which I now have to get back to. My 50K is really 70K and I’m behind schedule.

    Vince

    Vmres (at) swbell (dot) net

    P.S. Audra is a very sympatric character in “Out of Control” but H. Herne isn’t.

    P.P.S. Please note that poor Sydney wasn’t rehabilitated. He was just murdered. (But I’ve gotten over it. I really have.) On the bright side: Charity has been rehabilitated but she still connives.

    P.P.P.S. A P.S. gets an 80% readership in direct mail pieces. The highest in the letter!

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  55. Keli, I just got your e-mail. You're a DEAR. :) You made my day!! (I use my maiden name when I write. Easier to pronounce than Munoz.)

    Carol! Do it! But I bet you already have a lot absorbed just by being his wife. And are pretty good at that sort of thing yourself, since emotionally intelligent people tend to stick together.

    Ruthy. EW. :D And I never have problems with remembering the babies or the kids since I LIVE it. It bothers me no end when I'm reading and someone's toddler hasn't been seen for a while. You RUN when they're that quiet. It means they're playing in the toilet or eating worms or something.

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  56. Ha, Audra! I had a great image of hundreds of horses peering through your kitchen window!

    Mary, I completely forgot about birth order... Sounds silly, doesn't it? Now I want to go back to my current WIP and make his younger sister older and her older brother younger...and maybe add a few sibs. I always like to ask people I know what order they are, and then see what their spouse is. :) I never see two middles paired up! Usually oldest and youngest and sometimes middle and older.

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  57. Hahaha, Stephanie! That's such a great story! Bad, instead of flawed... perfectly said.

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  58. VINCE SAID: "On the bright side: Charity has been rehabilitated but she still connives."

    She's back in rehab, Vince, after the stunt she pulled in A Heart Revealed, but things are going well. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  59. Thanks, Virginia. Who wants to read a book where all the characters are "bad?" That should be reserved for the villains, not every character.

    BTW, Ruthy, did you hear Starbucks is having a BOGO event this weekend? Buy one holiday drink, get the second one free! Hope you like peppermint mochas, caramel brulee lattes and gingerbread lattes! (There might be more, but those are the ones I remember!) Event is Nov. 17-20.

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  60. U P D A T E

    Hi Audra:


    This post has been a great inspiration this morning!

    I have my hero and heroine stranded in a mountain cabin and they just discovered that there could be drug dealers in the area. Heroine is afraid but the hero says he’s there to protect her and besides having an outside threat may increase the chances that she will fall in love with him. (He’s the worse tease in all of romance.)

    “Why would I want to do that? You’re a crazy man, do you know that?”

    “Being crazy is my fatal flaw. You wouldn’t deny me a fatal flaw would you?”

    “Au contraire, I’d give you as many fatal flaws as possible.”

    The story flows! Back to work.

    Vince

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  61. Audra, thank you. I can relate to all you said about having a too perfect character. The problem is when I've given the protagonist a few flaws then I'm told she's not likeable enough. I have more success with writing plot than characters. This resource by Laurie Schnebly is one I could use. So please enter me in the drawing.
    patjeannedavis[at]verizon[dot]net

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  62. Pepper, do you really think it wise to discuss character development with Ruthy?? I believe you were in on our brainstorming session where Ruthy created not only characters for me, but the town, the down-on-their luck circumstances AND the redeeming love that saves everyone.

    Hmm wait! Maybe developing angsy characters with Ruthy is the right idea after all!

    Pep, you've got the most creative mind...plus a house full of kids, a preacher husband and a congregation. I'd say you have lots of avenues of personalities to choose from : )

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  63. Melanie, we had a great chat, didn't we? I hung on every word you said, even though I thought, hmmm, really? I've never experienced that LOL!

    The whole memoir thing? Still has merit. Sadly, my TBR pile is close to toppling as it stands. AND, you wouldn't want me to upstage The Merchant's Daughter in favor of some dusty ol' memoir, do you????

    You offered very good advice. It's easy to see where your character creativity comes from.

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  64. Vince - a great concept to let your hero identify his own fatal flaw. You have me going now - I HAVE to meet this guy!

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  65. Ahh, Donna. Always think onions when writing characters, constantly peeling back layers : )

    Walt, I guess I write plot pretty well, it's populating my book that's the issue! And really about the dead zone. If I want to create angst, maybe I should just give my characters cell phones : )

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  66. Audra, I hope those horses enjoy the view!

    We had cattle south and north of our subdivision (yes, we live in the projects...) up until a few weeks ago when they were all sold off. Every time I looked at them I thought of God owning the cattle on a thousand hills. I miss them, but I have a feeling there will be more in the spring.

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  67. My daughter just pointed out that hundreds of horses couldn't peer through ONE window! LOL! Not what I meant...
    My DD loves Seekerville and loves the comment threads. She's 11 and doing Nano, too, with her own goals so this place is a great place for her to pick up writing skills.
    And critique her mom's comments.

    P.S. KC, every time one of my kids is reading over my sholder and they see your profile pick, they yell, 'There's MAY!' Funny!!

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  68. Julie, you crack me up. YOu have some of the most diversified characters ever created! And volitale. And emotional.

    Very well rounded : )

    I need to get out of the mode of having my characters react to a situation the way I would react. It's very freeing knowing I can destroy someone's life, rebuild it and have it turn out exactly as they'd like it, LOL!

    Thanks for stopping by Casey's. She is hosting Jessica, Lisa and myself today. We need to wait our turns : )

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  69. And kids? Who has figured them out?

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  70. Hey Gwen, thanks for stopping by!

    Sue, you hit it on the head...since getting to know my character, she's not acting like I want her to.

    That was my problem and the root of all contrive-ness. These characters are PEOPLE! People I don't tend to understand : )

    For example, my hero is the strong silent type. I was thought he was withdrawn because of his awful childhood. As it turns out, his personality makes him crave solitude, he's just not a people person. He'd rather gain knowledge than gain friends...and heaven forbid there come a woman on his horizon that makes him think twice about it. What's a guy to do?

    I'm finding out : )

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  71. "I needed brain bleach..." ROFLOL! Stephanie, you've successfully created a new groove in my gray matter with that image (the whole rolling in dough thing). Wow.

    Yes ma'am. I said flawed, not bad. Obviously a BIG difference.

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  72. Myra quoted Mary saying:

    "I never do this because I seem to need to DISCOVER them by WRITING about them."

    To which I say: PREACH iT!

    But I'm home early after picking a sickly 10yo from school and instead of writing, I'm hoping I can convince the 4yo to lay down so Mom can take a nap... ;)

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  73. Hello Audra,

    I like the eanagrams too!
    Please enter me in the drawing.
    Thanks so much,

    Jan K.

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  74. Great post, Audra---and THANKS for the book recommendation! I'm going to look for it at my local Books-a-Million store the next time I go. Since I don't like conflict and folks just "not being nice", it's difficult for me to create characters that say things and act SO differently than moi--so I definitely need a characterization book, LOL. ~ YUM, all your apple goodies sound delightful--thank you! ~ Hugs from Georgia, Patti Jo

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  75. I love creating with all o' youse.

    And bothering Pepper is just plain fun.

    And I write good kids. And good bad kids. I know this because I just got off the phone with Melissa and she told me I write great kids...

    So there.

    I love writing kids, but I also like romance without kids in the mix. And I'll tell you, writing realistic kids is so much easier when you deal with them from birth to 12 years old every day. The stages...?

    Clockwork.

    The attitudes???

    Depends on the personality type.

    Same as grownups only IMMATURE. Unless you want them unusually mature which is its own character arc.

    I love characters. Just love 'em. And our town is FILLED with them.

    Like every other town on the planet, LOL!

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  76. Oh Audra,
    There is DEFINITELY personality around this house!
    It's oozing from the foundation. ;-)
    And I have an entire Appalachian family filled with quirky people - both adorable ones and those that..er..need a good dose of Jesus.

    As far as Mama Ruthy's teasing..well - with my fragile self-esteem and quivering confidence, I might have to give up on writing altogether. ;-)

    Btw - I love how God uses all of you wonderful Seekers and your very unique personalities to blend together this place called Seekerville. It's like the perfect fruit salad :-) Sour and sweet in perfect combo (snicker)

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  77. Audra,

    I liked your post and want to discuss that.

    First, I want to tell Ruthie to stop being a name-dropper. "I just got off the phone with Melissa." Show off! Must be nice to have a direct line with Love Inspired.

    As far as characters and personalities, would you be able to give some detail about how their personalities impact the plot? I mean, they have to go to various settings to pursue their goals. But, as I have said before, I've heard the term "episodic." So, you are suggesting we should have no idea where the character will move to until we understand their character?

    I don't know if that makes sense. I just need specificity. :)

    Of course, winning the book works for me too.

    cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

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  78. YAY! Today I got 4 books in the mail! Three I won [including TWO from SEEKERVILLE!] and an influencer book! I <3 mail days like this :D.

    Now, if I could get everything done in time to go to bed early, I'd like the day in general ;).

    Thanks, Seekerville!

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  79. Great post! It's so hard to understand people who are different from you and characters are very diverse. I have this habit of making them all alot like me, LOL.
    Don't worry I'm heading to that party of Casey's right now :)

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  80. I didn't know she wrote a book on the Enneagrams and Characters.

    Christmas wish list!!!

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  81. Hi Audra,

    Great blog. Great topic! How to make those characters come alive on the page.

    I like to give them lots of baggage. Past pain that needs to be revealed and healed. Hopefully, by the end of the story, they're better people.

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  82. Vince, I just got home from day job and your post made my head swim : ) LOL, yes, you can analyze characters to death, but from my perspective, I'm just trying to
    figure out what makes them tick. At times, I love reading so much more than writing. Natural characters doing natural things in a natural manner.

    You said, X will always do Y if given sufficient motivation. That sounds simple when if fact, it's very difficult. I need to know my characters well enough to realize jumping off a building isn't the what's holding them back, it's climbing the stairs. They don't fear falling, they fear heights.

    Sometimes it's easy to let them lead you down a plot path you have no intention of following, but that's when you have to put on your playground mommy (or daddy) cap and guide them back on the storyline path.

    I do understand what you're saying though. Who's writing the story, the author or the character? Sometimes, I really don't know.

    Sometimes it's an adventure finding out : )

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  83. Hey Pat, you've touched on the time tested dilemma: the fine line of likable vs unlikable character.

    I've been there. I feel your pain.

    I'll probably be there again.

    If you find the solution, or win the golden ring of insight, let me know, K?

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  84. Vince! You make-a me laugh!!

    Or, are you mocking me???

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  85. Jan, honey? You miss the horses? You just come on by my place. I'll make us a to die for apple strudel and coffee and we'll gaze out the window and watch the herd graze : )

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  86. Patti Jo, fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. Mainly because of the apples. I love them!

    Help yourself to all the goodies you want!

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  87. Pepper? I love your fruit salad analogy...

    Who might be the sour?

    Or the sweet?

    Just wondering....

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  88. Cathy, you bring up great points about plot and character.

    I do develope a plot. I create a roadmap through a story with high points and low points. In the past, I used to stick to this roadmap no matter what.

    This meant my characters had to behave a certain way so my nice neat plot didn't get kinked out of whack. This led to episodic writing because I had time to kill, so to speak, between scenes and my characters ended up going shopping or grabbing a cup of coffee, waiting for the timing to begin in the next planned scene.

    Now, I have a general idea in mind. Zac comes back to the ranch he's wanted since his boyhood...Jen is directing a thriving camp for cancer kids with dreams of expanding facilities and tearing down outbuildings...

    In the first version of this book, I knew exactly how each scene fit with the characters making it happen, all the way down to the first kiss happening in the third chapter because it needed to.

    In this version, I'm digging much deeper into why it's so vital for Zac to have this ranch, why it's vital for Jen to have her camp on this acreage, and what it takes to for each character to realize the other's dreams and walk away from their own.

    That's probably clear as mud, Cathy. Sorry about that.

    I'm learning to let the driving force within the characters take me from point A to Z instead of me playing a twenty chapter game of chess with them.

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  89. Faye, you and me, we'll create characters together : )

    OMG, books from MY perspective on life would be so BORING!

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  90. Tina, you're characters carry lots of angst. And they resolve their problems quite satisfactorily.

    I think you've got the whole enneagram thing pegged : )

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  91. Debby, you make it sound so easy to heap baggage on characters. Maybe that's why I love reading your books. I get so engrossed in the characters, I don't stop to think what's up ahead in the book!

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  92. Hi Audra,
    Thanks so much for sharing your hard-gleaned wisdom. I'm definitely going to check out that book.

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  93. Thank you for your thorough answer, Audra.

    I have had some thrown-in shopping and stops for coffee to get to crucial scenes, too, now that I think of it.

    I hear you, Ruthie, they all need to be crucial scenes. lol

    Interesting conversation.

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  94. Hi Audra:

    No, I was not mocking what you wrote. My WIP is about a romance writer and an Army captain who are stranded in a mountain cabin by the romance writer’s matchmaking agent. The Army guy edits his sister’s military romances for her so he is romance savvy. She is trying to finish her WIP to beat a deadline while he is editing his sister’s latest book. They plan to get revenge on the agent who set them up by sending him bizarre emails and they also agree not to use any romance writing techniques to get the other to fall in love with them. (Like getting up at night and bumping into the other by mistake.)

    He’s a terrible tease. She is a Plain Jane but he tells her she’s the kind of woman men look to marry. He asks how many children she wants.

    So the passage about the fatal flaw is right out of my WIP written after reading your post. After I posted that I went on and wrote this.

    “Thanks.” Eric looks at his computer.
    “But don’t you think that would be a little self-serving?”

    “What do you mean?”

    “Falling hopelessly in love with a 36-year old virgin ex-nun in a day or two would definitely be a fatal flaw, wouldn’t you agree?”


    Eric is a terrible tease. I think the worse in all of romance.

    Vince

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  95. Wow, this sounds like a great book and one that would help me a lot! Please enter me in the draw!

    helenblogspot@gmail.com

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  96. Vince, of course I knew you weren't mocking me!!

    And I have to tell you that I absolutely love your wit. It streams through your characters.

    "Falling hopelessly in love with a 36-year old virgin ex-nun in a day or two would definitely be a fatal flaw, wouldn’t you agree?”

    I'm busting a gut in laughter here!

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  97. Audra said: "You have some of the most diversified characters ever created! And volatile. And emotional."

    Well, I'll give you "volatile and emotional," and I guess "diversified" too, because God knows they are a real mixed bag ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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