on May 16th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
He never imagined her heart would be so hard to reach.
Forced into a marriage of convenience after her husband dies, Amanda Haynes is determined she will never love again. Not that it bothers Brandon Miller. He needs her husband’s cattle ranch and life insurance policy. She needs financial stability and long-term support for her son and herself. But she never expected to care so much about the running of the ranch.
Butting heads over the decisions of the ranch, adding to her frustration and grief at her loss. Her wellbeing is soon threatened as their lives become entangled with Billy the Kid and his gang. What has she gotten herself into? What kind of man has she married? Is there any way out?
CHARACTEROLOGY: The Heart of the Matter
I have been in the practice of writing now for quite some time. I have been to numerous conferences and sat under the tutelage of very gifted authors, both at these live events and in my study of craft through books and blogs. One of the key things I have come to discover is that character development is pre-eminent in the writing of the novel. If the reader doesn’t care about your characters, they won’t hang in there for the story. So, characters are what drives it all.
Discovering Your Characters
Every author has their own method for character development. I personally think it’s important to take time before you write the story (or even start outlining) to get to know your main characters (at least those who will have scenes told from their point of view).
Some writers “interview” their character. I have a profile sheet that has a list of things I think I should know about my character (physical appearance, mental abilities, socioeconomic level, sibling/parent relationships, etc.). Look up some character profile sheets, come up with your own. But I would recommend including Goals, Motivations, and Conflicts (External and Internal) on your sheet.
These are all surface sort of things. I love Susan May Warren’s The Story Equation which talks about breaking down the character’s Dark Moment Story (something significant that happened in their past that made them who they are today). The Dark Moment Story will lead to character flaws, the lie the character believes about him/herself, the character’s competing values, and so much more.
These deepen your understanding of your character, which makes the character deeper for the reader. Something that is important to note here is that you may not want to put everything you develop about your character on the page. You want to show only the tip of the iceberg, but you (the author) know the entirety of it, all that is under the surface. This makes the character more three-dimensional.
Having Fun With It
I always try to “cast” my characters too. It helps with visualizing my characters throughout the book and makes them more real for me, too. I keep a Pinterest board on each of my books with photos of who I would cast in each of the roles as well as a variety of other photos of places, food, and photos from that period/locale related to that novel. It’s just fun to play around with. You can find my pinterest boards here: http://www.pinterest.com/saravturnquist/
At the end of the day…
Characters are people too. They are only as real as you make them. And they are only as real to your readers as they are to you. It is worth the time and effort to put the work in on the front end. Give it a go and see what you come up with!
“Are you unwell?” Brandon moved toward her.
She stepped back, bumping into the counter. “No. I am well enough.” Amanda pulled her hands around her back.
Was she frightened of him? He halted his progress, and she seemed to breathe easier.
He opened his mouth, but the right words wouldn’t come. Floundering for a moment, he closed his lips and swallowed past a lump in his throat.
Couldn’t he just reach out and take her in his arms? Wouldn’t that make everything better? But that was not the answer.
She bit at her lip, but held his eyes. “I…was just looking for something to eat.”
Brandon nodded. She had missed dinner. “Are you better?”
Nodding, her face turned in the direction of the floor. Her hair fell in waves to both sides of her face. Did she not usually gather it in a braid for bed? His face warmed at the realization that he knew something so intimate about her. At length, he spoke into the silence, “I was worried.”
She met his gaze again. Was that moisture in her eyes? Had he made her upset?
Brandon took a step forward. “Please.” He held out his hands. “I know we haven’t always had the best of understanding between us. But I wish…” Pausing, he looked off to the side. Then secured her eyes again. “Tell me what’s wrong?”
Amanda appeared as if she were ready to climb on top of the counter to escape him somehow, but after some moments, her shoulders relaxed. And then a tear fell.
He held his breath, praying she would speak.
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