You've all heard (and probably used) the expression "give them roots and wings".
The expression is referring to child-raising... the art of parenting. How to keep your child grounded in the strengths of life but raise them with enough courage to spread their wings and jump out of that nest.
Now we all know fledglings that didn't have to be urged to fly.
THEY JUST DO IT!!!!!
And we all know people who are still perched on the edge, peering over, waiting for that perfect moment to launch. #FailureToLaunch isn't just a space saying anymore. For a myriad of reasons, our young people tend to seek more protection than they used to, but this is where your fiction has to ignore at least some of the current trends (whiny know-it-all people are not generally romance or fiction heroes or heroines. I, for one, want to slap them) and stick with the tropes that have withstood the test of time:
And then there's this, a link to Writing 101: ALL THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHARACTERS IN LITERATURE and oh my stars, this is in-depth. This is a conference class in a blog. This is detailed!!! This is for thinkers!
I'm not a thinker or a planner... But what I do and what I can teach is to see each character via these points:
1. Where they were in the past.
2. What they've come from
3. Who's hurt them?
4. Who likes them?
5. Why are they:
Now that last one isn't to be confused with having a character who by nature is an introvert. That's different than someone who is simply introverted for a reason. A "Cause-and-Effect" scenario.
Cause and effect scenarios are how I see books develop. I don't read craft books and rarely read articles on craft. I prefer to "read" my characters. To start the story, get to know them, realize why they act like they do, visualize their past and what effect that has on their present, and then put them through their paces of growth and realization.
I try not to make the process hard. Trees don't have to figure out that the roots send food to the branches once the sun warms the seal every spring. It just happens. It happens because the science of the situation programs the tree to produce sap/blossoms/leaves at certain degrees of soil temperature. Willows leaf out in cool weather and keep their leaves the longest up here.
Catalpa trees are S-L-O-W to blossom out and grow their big, ginormous bean-tree heart-shaped leaves. And they lose their leaves early in the fall.... big, floppy yellow leaves. I see characters like that. Some are willow fronds, some are maple leaves, some are strong, sturdy oaks, some are gossamer Japanese feathery maples, some are ornamental, some give sweetness like the gorgeous sugar maples and some bear fruit every single year, like a mother-lode, caring for all...
Your characters grow, stretch and evolve from where they are at the beginning of the book to where they are at that final page. But their story doesn't "begin" at page one... it begins in their childhood, their military service, their gains and losses, their parents, their siblings, their setting, their everything. When we make sure to bind that thread into the weave of story-telling, we end up with the organic story we all love to read and share. And that's every author's dream and goal.
Thank you for being here today! I've got a copy of my latest mystery "Patterns of Deception" and a copy of my newest and highly acclaimed Love Inspired "Rebuilding Her Life" book one of my new Kendrick Creek series.
Patterns of Deception (Savannah Secrets series...) AVAILABLE HERE!
Leave a comment below to have your name tucked in... and if you already have one or the other, let me know!
Bestselling author Ruth Logan Herne is gearing up for a crazy busy pumpkin season on her pumpkin farm because, like a great book, the beauty of fall begins in the heart of winter with seed orders, planning, strategies, display ideas, creating things, shaking things up and staying in touch with the folks who love you eight weeks of the year... and you don't want them to forget you the other 44 weeks! :) Writing and farming have a lot in common: You plan. You plant. You work. You grow. Then you have something to sell. Rock on, writers and readers!