Today I have Christie L. Rich author of Five the first book in the Elemental Emnity series on the blog with a guest post and a giveaway! This blog tour is being hosted by Dark Mind Book Tours. Make sure to go to their site to see the full tour and all the awesome posts that are going on with this tour.
How To Make Your Characters Believeable (or Not)
I’d like to thank my gracious host for having me today. This guest post thing is kind of neat. I get to go on and on about my opinions and no one can stop me, muhuahahaha. No really.
To be honest, I don’t know if I’m qualified to give you advice on making characters believable.
Not too sure you want to read on, are you?
Well, here’s what I mean. Characters don’t often do what a writer tells them—if they are real. Me commanding any of my characters to do anything seems rather pointless.
From my experience, characters tell their own story. I’m just the conduit.
What that means is I didn’t make Rayla Tate (The female lead in my Elemental Enmity Series) up. She came to me all drawn out and filled in. She also came with her own belief system (that doesn’t always mesh with mine), a hot temper, snarky attitude and a whole lot of gumption. That doesn’t mean I knew her right away. I had to work to get to know her, and the way I did that was writing her story her way.
I’ve had a few people tell me that Rayla (at times) acts out of character. Looking back, they are right, but Rayla’s the one that did it, not me (Wow that sounded whiny). In my mind, it was her right to act out of character, and honestly, who among us hasn’t made a choice we regretted later?
A real character leads the story, and if you (as the writer) get out of their way, it will astonish you how well your story will flow. The hardest part of writing for me has been when I have questioned my characters. When I’ve done that, I’ve halted the story, and it’s taken quite a bit to get it on track again.
Characters, like anyone, don’t like being told what to do. I actually had a near tantrum when I learned that one of my favorite characters was going to play an antagonistic role in my series. I honestly couldn’t believe it, and I started crying when I learned what was going to happen, but you know what? Those parts of the story are powerful. They resonate truth, which is what we expect from a believable character and, more importantly, a believable story.
I’m not saying that a writer is not involved in the story telling. We are. It is our experiences—our looking glass, if you will, through which our character’s story is unfolded.
As a writer, I make certain choices. I’ve had many characters come to me since my first introduction to Fexlie (a fiery little pixie in the Elemental Enmity Series that showed up one afternoon while I was on my way home from work).
The great part of being a writer is I never know how deep a story is going to go until I invite a character into my mind. I get a snippet of who they are and what they want, but I get to choose who I take on. I’m usually not sure why I’m the one that particular character approached (No I’m not out of my mind. At least the last time I checked, lol.), but there is always a deep seeded reason for me to be the one to tell that particular tale.
Writers in general have something to say to the world. It’s why we write. We’re opinionated, but it is not only our opinions that end up on the page.
I was surprised when I started to see a pattern unfold in Rayla’s story. Here I was, writing a feel good Paranormal Romance, yet a theme emerged that had been interwoven throughout the books. The weird part is, I didn’t intentionally put the message there. It just appeared. Rayla’s story is ultimately about freedom and the cost of our choices.
The more I explored Rayla’s world the more real it became. From the deceptive fae council to the greedy Order, I realized whenever I started typing I was falling into a different world. Just because that world lives in my imagination doesn’t make it unreal.
So, getting back to that believable character thing. What makes a character believable?
Every reader is looking for something when they open a book. Even if it is simple escapism, we have to connect with a story and the characters within the pages on some level.
I’m still of the mind that if I’m doing my job as a writer, I’m out of the way. The story is telling itself, using my hands.
The problem is, when you first start out writing, you don’t trust yourself enough to just let the words flow. We all have insecurities we have to face. The worst for me was, what if readers didn’t like my books? What if I really suck as a writer?
The truth is I have had to struggle through parts of the writing process. I’ve had to learn how to trust myself to write the story the way it is supposed to be.
I’ve fiddled around with plotting and pansting. (For those of you who might not know that last term, it just means I figure it out as I go, flying by the seat of my pants. It still makes me laugh when I visualize that. Try it and see if you don’t smile.)
What I’ve come to understand is every writer is different and our processes are different, but ultimately, we have to figure out how to get to know our characters then how to get out of the way and let them tell their story. If they fall flat on the page, it’s because we haven’t asked them enough questions. We haven’t allowed their motivation to sink into our minds. We’ve failed to get to know them. Sometimes even when we have a good connection with our character, we won’t initially know why they make a certain choice, but I’ve found that given enough thought, the motivation becomes clear.
Believable characters are relatable characters. One of the funniest things I’ve encountered with my current series is I’ve had a few people tell me they don’t relate to Rayla at all, while others rave about how real she is. Either way, Rayla is Rayla. I didn’t create her. I’m just telling her story, and I’m honored to do so. But the one thing I’ve realized by reading such statements is that Rayla is real, and people react to her as such.
So maybe instead of crafting believable characters, we writers should be opening our mental doors for our characters to waltz through and stay a while. I’m convinced if we let them tell their own story, we will have a believable character.
What do you think? Have you had a different experience? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.
Rayla Tate’s life is about to turn vertical…again. As if it wasn’t bad enough her mother disappeared under questionable circumstances leaving Rayla to be raised by her aunt in a horrendously small town. Her overprotective guardian is determined to ruin Rayla’s life. She refuses to let Rayla out of her sight or out of the state. Provincial living might be what her aunt demands of her purposely sheltered niece; but, Rayla has other ideas. In a desperate attempt to follow her dreams she flees the safety of her home and runs away to college with her best friend toward a bright future in the art world.
However, excitement over her newfound freedom turns into terror when she is chased by a mysterious stranger on her way to school. When his motorcycle suddenly morphs into a fire-breathing pegasus, Rayla questions her sanity. Worse, the man riding next to her stirs a burning desire in her soul she has never known or could have ever imagined. Using all the will she owns, she manages to resist the compulsion she feels; yet, as he disappears into the night, she is certain he hasn't gone far.
Rayla quickly dismisses the encounter to her overactive imagination. She is determined to settle into her new life, yet the images and feelings of that night still haunt her. To make matters worse, her aunt seems to be in on the act, insisting that Rayla will soon be hunted by a pack of fae lords for a power over the elements she never knew she possessed—a power that could change the world. Quicker than she ever thought possible, she finds herself surrounded by stunning men that all seem determined to win her heart. Why does she feel drawn to each one of them? More importantly, what dark power do they hold over her? Rayla must quickly learn to fend off these beautiful and seductive pursuers using whatever means necessary or find herself lost to the fae world forever.
I grew up daydreaming about fairytales, and my love for discovering new worlds has never died. I am not one of those writers who always knew I would write. I thought that was what other people did until one day a few years ago, I took a challenge from a friend and typed my first words. My journey has been wonderful, and I cannot imagine a day where I would ever give up writing now. My love for reading is what fueled my imagination in the first place and still does. When I am not writing or reading, I am enjoying family time with my husband and two children. We live in a quiet community under the Wellsville mountains in Utah, and I am so thankful for the rich life I have been blessed with.
Where you can find Christie:
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Thanks so much for stopping by today Christie! Christie was kind enough to giveaway e-copies of both the second and third book in the series to one lucky winner. And what's even better is it's open international! There is one more thing you should know before you go Five (Book 1 in the Elemental Emnity Series) is free on Smashwords and Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Perfect right? You get book one and now you have the chance to win Dark Matter (Book 2) and Genesis (Book 3)! All you need to do to enter the giveaway is fill out the raffelcopter below!