Tag Archives: characters

Conversations with Readers

2 Aug

One of the parts of being a writer that I like most is conversations with readers about my books, especially when they have questions about the characters, or want to know what is going to happen in the next book!

Their comments motivate me as a writer, because I want to keep my readers entertained and coming back for more.

Recently a couple of readers commented about a minor character in The Gate House. It is a character that I have especially enjoyed writing about, and I was happy that other people saw in “Elaine” what I did. It also encourages me to write more about her, and I hope to give her a bigger part in a future book.

Another reader has been questioning me about the future of the romance between Nara and Alex, which begins in The Gate House. No way will I give away my secrets! But I was very pleased that my readers care about my characters. It means that they are real to them as they are real to me.

I think it is important as a writer to pay attention to what my readers ask for and comment on. And their feedback motivates me when I sit down to write.

Readers — do you ever write to an author with comments or questions?

Writers — do you listen to your readers’ feedback and take it into account when you write?

 

 

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Life is in the Strangeness and the Details

6 Jul

I spent a “girls day out” yesterday with my cousin Linda, and we ventured out of Pennsylvania down to Delaware to visit Winterthur, the historic estate that was once the home of the DuPont family.

The house, all 175 rooms of it, is now a museum, primarily devoted to American furniture and household art. We found the whole experience to be a bit overwhelming. I am not a collector — I like to travel light in life — and it amazed me that someone would devote so much energy (not to mention money) to amassing pieces of furniture, china, silver and even woodwork to display in one place. And it was, after all, a home.

It is wonderful that all these items are preserved and appreciated, but I think as a writer, I like to know about how people lived, what they thought, how they felt. I want to know what Mrs. DuPont thought about when she drank tea from a cup that was used by George Washington. I want to know about the mix-ups and accidents. Did anyone drop and break any of these pieces? What happened if they did? I suppose it made a difference if itImage were a servant or a guest.

With all the beauty and perfection on display, I was looking for a flaw that would show the humanity of the people who lived there. At one point in our tour, I pointed to some yellow roses and quietly asked my cousin if she thought they were real. We examined them more closely — we weren’t supposed to touch anything — and she found a small tear in one petal, so yes, they were real.

If you have enough money, power and influence, can you create perfection in your life? And does that create a good life? Aren’t we all more interesting with our flaws and messes? That is certainly what makes a good character in a story. 

Still Pretending

20 May

I became a writer because I love to pretend. 

I was an only child until I was almost five, and we lived on a farm seven miles from a town nobody (almost) has heard of. We had no TV, but we had books and I had an imagination.

I often entertained myself my making up stories, with me as the star, of course. At some point I decided to start writing the stories down.

I am still pretending. That’s where stories come from — the wonderful world of “what if.”

Now I sometimes use my imagination as a tool to learn more about a character in a story I am writing. I spend a couple of hours “being” my character. I try to walk like her, eat what she would eat, even choose my clothes with her tastes in mind. (Of course, it could be a male character as well, but some of the choices would be a bit of a stretch.) 

It’s fun! I still enjoy playing that I am someone else. And it is good preparation for going back to write about the character. I know her better, because I have been inside her skin.

Does anyone have any other tricks for getting inside the mind of a character?Image

Where do characters come from?

22 Feb

My characters are frequently based on real people, but as the story develops, they take on a life of their own and bear little more than a superficial resemblance to the person on whom it is based.

In the case of Nara, the main character in The Gate House, she is based on the daughter-in-law of a friend from my days in Costa Rica. Her name is Nara, a unique name, and she is petite with dark hair and grew up in a Caribbean island nation. But that is where the similarity ends.

From that basic description, I created Nara Blake, who lives in the Gate House with her father and aunt, and whose interest in art along with her innate curiosity leads her into trouble.

Elaine, the cathedral tour guide who becomes involved with Nara and her adventures, is based on a real guide I met at Lincoln Cathedral. But of course I know nothing about the real woman’s personal life. I created one for the character in my novel.

Next time you are in a public place, look around and imagine a character from someone you see. From that person, you can create a story, or invite him or her into a story you are writing.

Here are a couple of websites I like for help in creating characters:

How to Create Characters http://kathrineroid.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/how-to-create-characters-for-a-novel/

Fiction Factor http://www.fictionfactor.com/characters.html

Isla Tortuga, Costa Rica