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Building Character: Bringing People (and Aliens) to Life Through Words – Part 2

In Part 1 of my Building Character blog posts, we discussed how a character’s unique traits will determine how they react to anything and everything in the story. I gave a list of 14 things that make a character unique. You can read that post here. In Part 2, I want to dive deeper into 3 of them: experiences, perspective, and beliefs. EXPERIENCES (Backstory) Many factors, including physical attributes, cause people to experience life differently. You can start imagining what impacts sex, color, and body measurements (height, weight, musculature, body fat, etc.) may have on a person, real or imaginary. These experiences aren’t just based on the strengths or limitations of their body, but by the way others who see them treat them. Were they treated differently because of their sex or their skin color? Were they unable to play a sport they loved because they didn’t have the correct

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Building Character: Bringing People (and Aliens) to Life Through Words – Part 1

Characterization is more than physical appearance and word choice. When I give my Building Character workshop to writer’s groups, I discuss ways to use motivation, fear, conflict, flaws, backstory, belief systems, and more to write vivid, unforgettable characters that will come alive for readers. Characterization is an entire representation of a being, whether person, vampire, or alien. As a writer, your number one goal is to make the reader fall in love with your characters! If you succeed at this, your story will be a success. If your reader doesn’t like your character, they won’t care about anything else in the book. That’s not to say your characters must be likable. They need to be interesting. Perfect characters are boring and one-dimensional. Give your characters flaws to add dimensions to them. Multidimensional characters keeps the reader guessing. Your readers will want to read more to find out what the character

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Describing Fight Scenes

Authors often ask me how specific they should be when describing fight scenes. My advice is to avoid getting too technical or the fight scene will read like a training manual. Too many details can slow down the pacing. Fights are fast and you want your action to read quickly so you can elicit an emotional response in the reader. You want readers to feel the excitement of the fight, not confusion over the words used to describe it. The terms you use will also depend on your audience. If you don’t write books filled with action-packed fight sequences, then it may be best to keep to more general fighting terms. What if you want to showcase a particular awesome move or technique in the climax, but it’s too technical to explain at that moment? Describing in detail what’s happening in a fast-paced action scene will slow down the excitement.

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Codes of Character

Codes are all around us: computer codes, genetic codes, zip codes, and bar codes. The military has codes, professionals have codes, even pirates have codes (though I hear they’re more like guidelines than actual rules.) Our code of honor, code of ethics, and code of conduct makes up our conscience. It gives us a moral compass to guide our way though life. Right or wrong, we all have a philosophy by which we live. And so should the characters we read or write about. We love stories with heroes with a strong moral code like Yoda (Star Wars), Mr. Myiagi (The Karate Kid), William Wallace (Braveheart). We also love stories with heroes whose moral codes rivals the rules of society. Who doesn’t love a wronged hero who takes matters into his own hands? He’s redeemable in our eyes as long as he is true to his own moral philosophy, and

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The Adam & Eve Approach to Character Development

A while ago someone asked me about my process for developing my heroes and a heroines. Do I make a character sketch? Do I use real world influences? Sometimes I get an idea for a character and then create a story around them. Sometimes I get an idea for a story and then create a character to fit the story. With CAPTIVE (The Survival Race #1), the story idea came first. I was watching the rescue of mistreated horses on an episode of Animal Cops. It was heart-wrenching to see those beautiful animals neglected and starved so thin their rib cages showed. How would their owners have felt if they were penned up and abused like that? This got me thinking. What if humans were pets, and someone—aliens perhaps—bred us and gambled on us for sport like we do in horse racing, dog racing, and cockfights? What if they wanted

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