Monday, October 28, 2013

No Moustache Twirling Allowed!

I always love hearing how authors create their characters, because without three dimensional characters, your book may as well just be narrated. So I'm so excited to have Misha Gerrick here to talk about getting to know her characters.

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I don’t know about you, but I usually root for the more complex character in the story. If this, to my mind, is the supporting character, so be it. And too bad for the writer if it happens to be the villain.

These days it’s fashionable to make a villain complex. I’m grateful for this, not being much of a fan of moustache twirling, snickering fiends. That said, this fashion has had a bit of an adverse effect. Some writers put so much focus into creating this awesome bad guy that they forget that the hero needs to be three dimensional too. No awesome bad guy should conceivably be beaten by a stick figure.

And yet this happens more often than readers would like to admit. It just… well… leaves me with a sour taste in my mouth.

As a result, I focus quite a lot on character complexity when I write. To me, it’s more than one positive, one negative, one habit, one quirk. In fact, I don’t design my characters.

I assume they’re fully formed and spend a draft or two getting to know them. I discover things they hate, but also the levels to which those things are tolerated. Conversely, I know what the characters want, but also at what point they think something’s too much of a good thing.

I know their secrets (if they show me), I know what annoys them for no reason. Often times, I understand why those things annoy them even if they don’t.

Best thing about all this is that, because I discovered all this on the page, the reader will discover these things too. And through that, they glimpse the many facets that make up my characters.

As a result, though, my characters aren’t sweet. Well one is, but she has a temper. Or the other guy… oh wait, he’s hiding something. Or… nope. He’s a bit of a manipulator. But you know what? I prefer my characters on the heroic side of wicked. It’s just that much more interesting to see someone stand up for the right thing despite their characteristics, than having someone stand up because hey, he’s perfect, so why wouldn’t he?

How do you make your characters complex?

Blurb
 
Since the death of her parents, Callan Blair has been shunted from one foster family to another, her dangerous secret forcing the move each time. Her latest foster family quickly ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in the Cumbrian countryside. While her foster-brother James makes it his mission to get Callan expelled, a nearby ancient castle holds the secret doorway to another land...

When Callan is forced through the doorway, she finds herself in the magical continent of Tardith, where she’s shocked to learn her schoolmates Gawain and Darrion are respected soldiers in service to the king of Nordaine, one of Tardith's realms. More than that, the two are potential heirs to the Black Knight—Nordaine's crown prince.


But when the Black Knight fails to return from a mysterious trip, the realm teeters on the brink of war. Darrion and Gawain set out to find him, while Callan discovers there is more to her family history than she thought. The elves are claiming she is their princess.

Now with Darrion growing ever more antagonistic and her friendship with Gawain blossoming, Callan must decide whether to stay in Nordaine—where her secret grows ever more threatening—or go to the elves and uncover the truth about her family before war sets the realms afire.

 

About Misha:

M. Gerrick (AKA Misha Gericke) has basically created stories since before she could write. Many of those stories grew up with her and can be seen in her current projects.

She lives close to Cape Town, with a view over False Bay and Table Mountain.

If you’d like to contact her, feel free to mail her at warofsixcrowns(AT)gmail(DOT)com, Circle her on Google Plus or follow her on Twitter. If you'd like to see her writer-side (beware, it's pretty insane), please feel free to check out her blog. You can also add The Vanished Knight on Goodreads.

 

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Come back Wednesday for From The Great Beyond Bloghop!
 
 
 
Wish I could get the linky to work. Alas, Blogger is being cranky. But if you want to sign up for this fun and easy hop, go to Tara, Angela or Roland's to sign up. Just post on Wednesday about a writer you'd like to contact from the great beyond, hop around to comment, then come back on Thursday (Halloween!) to find out who wins.
 

 

20 comments:

  1. My characters develop on the page. I never sit down and "assign" them character traits. They demonstrate their traits in the first draft as the story unfolds. That said, I may have to carefully hone those traits in subsequent drafts, to craft a full-fledged rounded and believable character. But the character is always in charge. Not me!

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    1. It's exactly the same for me, Dianne. In fact, the characters have a huge say in most of the story, plot, dialogue, characterization etc.

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  2. Great tips on making our characters complex. That's too bad if too much focus is on making the evil person complex and not the main character. I do think it's more interesting when the antagonists are complex, but I'll watch out for this.

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    1. I agree with you that complex antagonists are better, but only if the protagonist has his/her fair share of complexity.

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  3. I like to have my antagonist slowly descend into madness, then at the end completely fall off the deep end and sell out his friends, those who helped him along the way.

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    1. Ooh that sounds like an interesting approach... :-D

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  4. Still laughing at the villain being beaten by a stick figure!
    I need to know where my character came from - what happened to him in the past will add depth to his character.

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    1. Same here. Often some aspect to his/her past shapes his motivations, fears and desires.

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  5. Your characters sound like exactly they have exactly the kind of complexity that readers crave!

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  6. I also draw out my characters through writing. Don't do any character profiles before starting - how can I when I haven't seen them in action yet? On the subject of not putting all the emphasis on the villain, I think protagonists are more interesting with a dark side. They might have done dubious things in the past or be fighting against something, like an addiction, but they're always aiming to do the right thing despite those foibles. No one is just one thing or another.

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    1. I prefer to do my characterization the same way as you.

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  7. Great post! I also let my characters grow through the writing and revising. Complex and flawed characters are the most fun to read and write.

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    1. I agree Christine. Perfection is so boring. :-P

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  8. "The heroic side of wicked" - I love that! Perfect.

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    1. Me too! That line is my quote for the day ( :

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  9. Great post . . . Congrats, Misha!
    I'm participating in the blog hop, Gwen :-) LOVE Tara! We got to meet in person this summer!

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  10. It was my pleasure to host you, Misha. Wonderful post! You can come back any time :)

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