Choices that Change Characters
First, thanks for having me on Books-n-Kisses, Kelly. Great blog!
I thought I’d give your readers a peek behind the writers’ curtain today and share some of the things we think about as we craft our stories. Romance is character-driven fiction, so no matter how clever my premise, no matter how exciting my plot points, if readers don’t fall in love with my hero, if they don’t want to try on my heroine’s shoes, I’ve wasted perfectly good paper and ink. (Or pixels, if you’re an ebook junkie like I’ve become!)
So what do I do to create characters who breathe on their own? Well, there are the obvious first steps—choosing a name (which is a blog post all its own!), gifting the hero or heroine with certain physical characteristics (coloring, build, imperfections, intelligence, etc.—Side note to aspiring writers: it’s a good idea to record these things in a sort of “story bible” so your hero’s eyes don’t change from blue to green somewhere between Chapter 1 and 20). I also decide on my character’s most important goal.
But writers need to know more about their characters than they ever share with readers. We need to know what has made them the people they are when the story opens. We have to be well-acquainted with their backstory, while resisting the temptation to clutter our novel with it. I like to do this by determining 5 critical choices, which are different for every soul on earth.
Look back on your own life. What were the turning points, the decisions that changed everything that came after? Was it which field to study? What faith to embrace? What guy to marry? Should you give someone who betrayed you another chance? Will you move across the country to take a new job? What would you do to reach your goal? What are the absolutes you won’t violate even if it means surrendering that goal?
For WAKING UP WITH A RAKE, my hero Lord Rhys Warrington is haunted by a decision he made as a military officer. In the heat of battle, one of his friends was gut shot and begged Rhys to finish him cleanly. Rhys used his last shot to put a dying horse out of its misery instead, but he stayed by his friend for the three agonizing days it took him to succumb to the belly wound. Even years after returning from France, Rhys is plagued with recurring flashbacks of the battle and his decision. Check out this excerpt for an example of how Rhys’s past intrudes on his present at the most inopportune times: http://miamarlowe.com/books/waking.php#excerpt (If you’re an aspiring writer, note that I didn’t wallow in the flashback. I only allowed a bit of it into the present action, only enough to raise questions in the reader’s mind that hopefully encourage them to read on.)
And I hope you’ll decide to read on in WAKING UP WITH A RAKE. It’s Book 1 in the Royal Rakes series, so there are plenty more adventures to come! Enjoy!
I love to connect with readers, and other writers! When I has a volunteer willing to put the first 500 words of their WIP online, I host Red Pencil Thursday—a cyber-critique group—on my blog http://miamarlowe.com/blog/red-pencil-thursday/.
WAKING UP WITH A RAKE
by CONNIE MASON AND MIA MARLOWE
The Fate of England’s Monarchy Is In The Hands of Three Notorious Rakes.
To prevent three royal dukes from marrying their way onto the throne, heroic, selfless agents for the crown will be dispatched…to seduce the dukes’ intended brides. These wickedly debauched rakes will rumple sheets and cause a scandal. But they just might fall into their own trap…
After he’s blamed for a botched assignment during war, former cavalry officer Rhys Warrick turns his back on “honor.” He spends his nights in brothels doing his best to live down to the expectations of his disapproving family. But one last mission could restore the reputation he’s so thoroughly sullied. All he has to do is seduce and ruin Miss Olivia Symon and his military record will be cleared. For a man with Rhys’s reputation, ravishing the delectably innocent miss should be easy. But Olivia’s honesty and bold curiosity stir more than Rhys’s desire. Suddenly the heart he thought he left on the battlefield is about to surrender…
Connie Mason is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels. She was named Storyteller of the Year in 1990 and received a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews in 1994. She currently lives in Florida.
Mia Marlowe is a highly acclaimed new voice in romance whose debut novel released in Spring 2011 from Kensington. She lives in Boston, MA. Together, they are working on the next book in the Royal Rakes series, One Night with a Rake, which will be in stores in June 2013.