Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Art of Characterization by Tara Randel



One of the big parts of crafting a book is characterization. Let’s face it, without compelling characters, we don’t have much to work with. Readers want to fall in love with and root for our hero and heroine. So we have to make sure the characters touch our readers hearts.
Every writer has a different way of going about creating characters. For me, it can start as simply as a name. Or a story idea. I love series books, so I take secondary characters and plan entire books around them.

 Orange Blossom Brides

While writing Orange Blossom Brides, I had Max reconnect with secondary character, Dane, the hero of my July release, Magnolia Bride.  In that scene, Max makes mention of a special girl Dane knew one crazy summer. The girl who got away. Immediately, I knew I had to delve into Dane's story more deeply and soon I had his perfect heroine, Nealy. 

As I plotted Magnolia Bride, new secondary characters came to mind and I discovered the hero and heroine for my current work in progress.



That’s how my mind works. Other authors write stand-alone books, each book individual of the others, very rich in characterization while introducing a brand new world to the reader.

As I form my heroines, I always consider, how much of me goes into these women? Do I want any of me in her? LOL Should I make her as different from me as possible? Let’s face it, each character has a little piece of their author in them.

 I have an archetype book I review each time I start a new project which helps me zero in on what type personality my characters will possess. I have so much fun in the beginning stages, I almost have a hard time starting to write the story!

As a reader, I enjoy a heroine who is vastly different than me. The time I spend in a book takes me away from my real world. I want to read about situations I would never allow myself to get into and see how the characters work their way around danger, emotionally tangled up events and, most importantly, find their way to love. 

So, authors and readers, what type of heroines do you enjoy creating or reading about?  

15 comments:

  1. What's the title of the archetype book?

    I like reading about heroines who do the unexpected sensibly. As for heroes, I'm still thinking about Mel's chart and Hans. Tough but funny.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm a spunky heroine type of gal. Princess Leia, anything with Sandra Bullock. The girl next door who just won't give up.

    ReplyDelete
  3. There are so many different personality types to choose from!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have always enjoyed heroines who weren't drop dead gorgeous--plain Janes (probably because I'm a plain Jane), and quirky heroines who don't have a handle on the whole brain-mouth filter. By necessity, they have to be spunky/plucky. I love a hard exterior that hides a mushy center, and I have a special place in my heart for heroines who use humor to deflect or as a defense. I also like stubborn heroines. But no matter how the quirks show up or they look, I love nothing more than a heroine who can pull an alpha male down a peg or two and make their man their devoted slave--er, lover. ;-)

    I loved Anne Hathaway's character in the first Princess Diaries movie, Anya in Anastasia, Anne of Green Gables, Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping, Meg Ryan in everything, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While You Were Sleeping is my favorite movie!

      Delete
  5. I agree with Mel on the spunky heroine--I tend to lean toward the super independent characters who, while they don't need a man, they find one they definitely want. Also characters who go through significant emotional growth spurts are the most interesting to me...I want them to learn something and expand their sphere. Great post, Tara!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. After Mel's post, I got to thinking about our heroines.

      Delete
  6. My heroines are usually a composite of me and relatives and friends. I try hard to stay out of her, but eventually, I creep in - always trying to make peace, trying to be calm but ending up in a frenzy that creates a mess. Usually works well in a book - not necessarily in my life. Would love to have tea with Sandra Bullock and Meg Ryan - you can come, Roz.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like I said, a bit of us always creeps into our heroines.

      Delete
  7. Hah! I feel like we just had this conversation, Tara- lol. For me, someone's past has a lot to do with who they are now- so I kind of come up with a back story first and that helps me understand who the character is- what drives her, her personality, what holds her back... things like that. Sometimes who she is inside is different than the person she presents, and I like those characters too- the hidden depths that only my hero can uncover :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I think of getting to know my characters as taking them out on a date. What is my first impression of him/her? Does it change over time? Do I think of them the same the second time I talk to them?

    My favorite heroines are spunky and have a sense of humor about themselves and the situations they find themselves in. I love characters like Stephanie Plum and Elizabeth Bennett. They usually say what I wish I had in similar situations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My heroines always say things I wish I'd said at one time or another.

      Delete
  9. Great post! I spend a lot of time thinking about who my characters are and why they are that way. I feel by the time I finish writing a book, I can tell you everything they would be thinking if you gave me a situation to put them in. I love to write all different kinds of heroines. I love the ones who are quirky and realize they aren't perfect but don't have to be. As for the hero, I love a man with a heart of gold. They can be tough on the outside but big softies on the inside!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I agree. One of the joys of writing is being able to create so many different kinds of heroines.

    ReplyDelete