Hello Everyone! I hope all is well with you! I’ve got Heidi Nicole Bird with us today and she’s sharing her new release “Ontario” with us! But wait there’s more! She’s also sharing her thoughts on bringing characters to life, so you’ll want to keep on reading until the end! She’s got some great stuff for us! 🙂
Take it away Heidi!
“Don’t worry, Ontario, I’ll never leave you. You will always have me here to protect you and your brother.”
Those words from a childhood memory would haunt Ontario Stratton for the rest of her life. Losing her father had been difficult enough, but her life would change even more drastically at the beginning of her senior year of high school. Only weeks into the school year Mrs. Stratton abandons her two children for a more carefree way of living. Suddenly thrown into a very different life, Ontario clings to her brother Eddy, her new legal guardian, and to no one else. Could she trust anyone anymore? Even her best friend isn’t there for her. . .
In order to feel like less of a burden on her brother, Ontario gets a job at the local fifties-style diner. It is there that she meets her new “family,” including the oh-so-intriguing Austin, the only one who can help her truly heal. In time, Ontario discovers that Austin has his own demons, and that he needs her just as much as she needs him. Some things in Ontario’s life begin to come together again, but others continue to fall apart. Though her world seems to be breaking, she is introduced to a kind of happiness she has never known before, and her new found friends show her that maybe, just maybe, she can learn to love again.
Keep reading and learn how Heidi brings these characters to life!
Bringing Your Characters to Life
One of the things that really makes a book for me is a good character. Maybe that sounds like a “duh” sort of thing to say, but hear me out. I have read fabulous stories with fabulous characters, but I’ve also read some really great stories that didn’t quite make it to the “fabulous” category because the characters had something lacking. For me, the story could be fantastic and the author could be well known, but if the characters in the story aren’t that great, then it’s likely that I won’t pick up that book again. Here’s the thing: characters make the story. Even if you have a great story idea it won’t seem great to your readers if your characters aren’t memorable. Creating great characters that my audience will love is one thing I really try hard to do, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on just how you go about creating a great character.
- Name – Okay, let me share my philosophy on names for a second. I like creating new and unique names as much as the next author, but I also think you can go way too far with that. If there’s one thing that distracts me during a story it is a writer who makes all the names so different that I can’t remember who the characters are. I do like unique names, I do! But, if every single character in your book has a name nobody has ever heard before it gets hard for your reader to keep them all straight, especially when the name doesn’t make it clear that the character is male or female. You probably won’t run into this problem as much if your book has few characters, but lots of characters with unique names = bad stuff.
- Looks – Another thing that bothers me is when I make it through a book without ever knowing what the author intended the main character to look like. Honestly, I may not even make it through the book if that happens. As the author you already know what all of your characters look like, but don’t forget that your readers don’t! This doesn’t mean you should randomly stop the flow of the story to give a detailed description of each character, but it does mean that you need to incorporate details into your narration. This goes the same for gender as well. Make sure you establish the gender of your characters, especially if your main character is telling the story.
- Personality – For me this is the biggest thing. Your characters have to be different. They have to have quirks. Maybe one character likes to make fancy little doilies and another one likes to watch pro-wrestling when kids are asleep. Whatever it is, your characters need to have depth. They need to have identifying characteristics or they won’t be memorable. Think about people in your own life. I bet you could pick someone, anyone, and think of personality traits that are unique to them, things that set them apart. That’s what you need to do with your characters. It’s great to have a character who is confident and happy all the time, but think about how boring it would be if all your characters were like that! Unless your story is about clones then make sure your characters are different, identifiable, and memorable.
- Flaws – This is another thing I think is very important. Sure, everybody likes a Super Man, but honestly, even he had his flaws. Your characters can’t be perfect or they won’t be believable, and neither will your story. If everything goes flawlessly for your character then there is something wrong. Nobody’s life is like that, so your readers will have nothing to connect to. Create weaknesses in your character. As bad as that sounds, you need to do it. They can’t be rock solid. Something has to make them breakdown, make them seem human.
- Keep your Readers Learning – Let me explain. When you first experience a character you need to know some basic things about them, as was discussed in point number 2, but you can’t, and shouldn’t tell everything about your character right from the get go. Well, I suppose you could if you really wanted to, but that would make for a rather interesting beginning to your story, which would start to sound more like a biography. You don’t want to go too far in the other direction either though. If your character can be completely described in a few sentences then you definitely have some fleshing out to do. Do your initial introduction at the beginning of your story, or wherever they enter the picture, and then throughout the story let your readers get to know them better. It’s just like when you first meet someone who later becomes your best friend. By the time you are best friends surely you have learned more about then than you did during your first meeting.
I’ve only covered five things in this list, but I think each of them are important to consider. I also think there are many other things that need to be thought about when creating character. As overwhelming as it seems, making a great, believable, relatable character isn’t that hard. Just try it out, using these tips, or other ones. As an exercise, think about your favorite book character. Analyze that character and make a list of why you like them so much, then try making a character of your own. The better your characters are, the better your story will be.
***Sorry about the numbers above, I copied and pasted this from Word and I can’t seem to get the numbers corrected in WordPress….thanks for your patience! 🙂
Heidi Nicole Bird has been writing for as long as she can remember and it is her favorite thing in the world. Heidi is a regular NaNoWriMo participant and is mostly a young adult fantasy writer, but also likes to write juvenile fiction and other genres. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Brigham Young University and she looks forward to exploring the genre of historical fiction. Heidi lives in Utah with her family and three dogs, and loves working from home as a full time writer.
Also by Heidi Nicole Bird, Through the Paper Wall
Links to Ontario:
Thanks Heidi for sharing your wisdom with us and being a guest today!
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