Monday, March 7, 2022

Five Steps to Creating Characters—Step Two

 


I have permission to use the cover of book #3!!!
A Model of Devotion

Last month I talked about making characters likeable by making someone like them. Find that here.

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Released March 3
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This month I’m talking about Character Arcs

1.                  Make a character likeable by making someone like them

2.                  Character arcs

3.                  Give them quirks

4.                  My main character types

5.                  Avoid backstory dumps

Character arcs. Whatever you start with, for a romance novel, or honestly, any novel except maybe Jack Reacher, your character needs to change. But for me, at a person’s most fundamental level, I don’t think people really change. At least not without years of intense therapy. But a person, their strengths and weaknesses, their personalities, don’t really change.

A take charge, feisty woman doesn’t become meek. An easy-going artist doesn’t become a dynamo. Or at least neither of these things happens with a true change of character. If

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that feisty woman meets a man who likes to run things, but she respects and loves him and likes the way he runs things, well, maybe she’ll let him be in charge. But even if she’s now second in command, she’s still going to be feisty. That easy-going artist might find something that wakes up her passion to run something, but she’s going to do it with an artistic, easy-going flair.

People don’t change who they are, but all personality traits can be used for good or for evil. That feisty lady may have spent her life pushing people away (except for her friends who like her, of course) but in the end, her arc is learning to turn her feisty personality toward charming, respecting and loving others but in a feisty way. So your character arc is revealing who the character is, then showing her grow into her best self—but not a different self. And you as the manipulative, cruel author, put her through your story to develop that best self.

 

17 comments:

  1. How right you are! I like to think people grow and most mature and become better, but I agree that for the most part, their core doesn't change. My advice to my kids, and now my grandkids about picking their friends (or potential spouse), you have to like or love them for who they are and what they are...you cannot change someone. But God can! I am a living example of that, but I still (at my core) feel those bad things coming back to attempt to haunt me occasionally. That is what I try to bring out in my characters, that God can make a difference but each of us are still prey to our old shortcomings because whatever those things or traits may be, they are in our nature...our core, and always will be. We just have to learn to control them.

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    1. Very wise, Lynne I like how you put this. Thank you.

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  2. I love creating characters... and most often they form in my head and I weave the story around them... and their arc and emotions are what drive the story because heroine from book one is never, ever, ever going to do what heroine from book three will do... and that's the beauty of writing and in writing series.

    And I agree with Lynne, too... people can have a change of heart but they are still that person... and the change of heart may change the direction of their ethic/work but it doesn't change the personality that got them where they are.

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    1. One of my daughters (well several, but one I'm thinking of now) always had a natural leadership skill. She could sway people to her way of thinking with unusual skill. I used to say, "Watch how you use that. Watch where you lead."

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  3. I am a Women's Fiction author and it is very difficult to get reviews and visibility. Getting book reviews from bloggers is more and more difficult these days. usbookreviews.com helped me get initial reviews and visibility.

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  4. As a reader I agree. I dislike when a someone with an outgoing fiery personality becomes a yes sir whatever you say type. It just isn’t realistic. By the way I love those covers. Blessings

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    1. Hi Lucy. Those covers are great aren't they? I'm thrilled with them. Yes, use your power for good not evil. The power you have doesn't change but what you do with it does.

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  5. Interesting post, Mary. I think these are going to be interesting characters.

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  6. . . . showing her grow into her best self - but not a different self.

    Thank you, Mary! I love that idea of a woman becoming the best version of herself, whether in reality or in the pages of a book.

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    1. Hi Terri. We all need to grow into our best self, right? Why not our characters. :)

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  7. Very much enjoying these posts, Mary. Good stuff! :)

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    1. You think? So much of what we do is just trying to put into words something that is just TRICKY to put into words. But we keep trying.

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  8. This is a thought-provoking post, Mary. I think you're right--it's pretty hard to change your basic self, personality, etc. I'm still the same introverted person I was as a child. I've had some experiences where I've forced myself to be a bit of a leader and more outgoing, but I'm still a lot the same at heart.

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    1. Me, too, Winnie. I'm happiest by myself makin' stuff up. But I try and behave when I have to. LOL

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    2. Just keep on making those stories up! At least you can have your characters misbehave! I'm loving your new series--such fun!

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