May 16, 2009

"Developing Characters"

Developing believable characters can sometimes be difficult. For one thing, they need to live and breath in your story. If they don't, the story will be flat and uninteresting. The reader needs to either love them or hate them. They also need to care whether they overcome the demons in their lives or win the hand of the lovely maiden (or gorgeous hunk of a hero). If they don't care about your characters and believe in them, they'll put the book down. None of us want that to happen.

The following excerpt is the first three paragraphs of my book, Taming the Heart.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this,” I teased as a cool evening breeze brushed a strand of hair across my face. I quickly tucked it behind my ear.

Lydia set her camera beside the rustic footbridge that spanned Black Creek—the contrast of the wild Shasta Daisies against the weather-beaten planks had caught her eye and she just had to capture it. She smiled her crooked little grin and continued adjusting her tripod, perching it precariously on the water’s rocky edge. “I can’t believe you came. Getting you out of that house for more than a quick trip to the grocery store is like coaxing a mouse out of its hole. You’ve become a bit of a hermit, my friend.”

“I have not. I just like staying home, that’s all.” I knew she was right, but admitting it to her meant I’d have to admit it to myself. Her analogy of the mouse was truer than she knew. My mother called me mouse. I’d always thought it was a loving term of endearment until I overheard her telling her boyfriend the real definition one day. She’d said I was weak and always underfoot. In her mind, it was enough of an excuse to justify her leaving. It was the last time I saw my mother—her priorities no longer included me.

Did you learn anything about the characters? Are they lovable? Do you feel sorry for Kira, whose telling the story through her point of view? Has Kira let her mother's opinion of her influence her life? And what about Lydia? Is her friendship with Kira genuine and valuable?

Tell me what you think. I want to know everything you get out of these three paragraphs, even your assumptions and what images come to mind as you're reading. What questions do you ask yourself about the characters? What parts tweaked your interest and curiosity? Do you want to know more?

And yes, you can consider yourselves my guinea pig readers.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I want to know more. Great beginning, Christine!