PJ Sharon here, and as promised, I have a wonderful guest today. CC James, author of the DEMON TRACKERS series is here to share her secret to writing compelling characters. She must be a bit psychic, because the first question I usually ask other authors is, “What are you reading?” She not only answered before I asked, she managed to segue into an excellent tip for characterization . Here’s what she had to say.
I’m currently reading Lily Dale: the true story of the town that talks to the dead. It’s written by journalist Christine Wicker, who went to investigate the quaint little town that claims to be the world’s largest community of Spiritualists and Mediums.
It’s a really interesting read, but I’m not here to talk about ghosts or spoon-bending or other psychic phenomenon, but about crafting realistic characters in fiction.
I know, large leap from spirits to writing craft, but hey, that’s how my mind works.
While interviewing a certain Medium, Christine Wicker writes:
[“When religious people tell me that they know, absolutely know the truth, I am never assured that they are telling the truth. They are showing me their public face. What convinces is the other face, the one that can only be glimpsed. When their eyes shift, when doubt widens their countenance into blank confusion and they fumble because words come hard, I know I’ve hit the right spot. This is what they worry about in the dead of night, when the sureties everyone believes seem far away and they are left with only their own thoughts. The questions they pose to themselves then, and how they answer them, are the heart of faith. When I see that look, I become very still and careful, as watchful as the voyeur standing outside the barn, peering between the slats.”]
And BAM, it hits me. That’s it. That’s what I need to draw out of my characters. When I write my character arcs, I ask questions about what my hero or heroine wants more than anything, the conflict to having it, and what they’re willing to sacrifice to get it.
It never occurred to me to let the reader see a character’s doubts—to show that eye shifting moment when all is laid bare and the confidence of the heroine’s beliefs wavers—that face she doesn’t let anyone see. I want my readers to peer between the slats and think, “Oh, this is the true her. I’ve felt that way too, but no one will ever know.”
So now my character arcs will include getting to the heart of the hero’s doubts.
You can find CC James at her romance writer alter ego’s site. http://www.clovercheryl.blogspot
The first book in her action/adventure DEMON TRACKER series, THE ANOINTED is available at Amazon link: http://amzn.to/oLvK2L
Her second book in the series, BANSHEE’S CRY is set to be released in August!
Thanks for being here, CC. Great tip. I’ll be looking at my characters in a new light.
What about you guys? Do you have any other tricks for making your characters leap off the page?