Dawn Montgomery

Your Characters

In Workshops on April 29, 2011 at 6:46 pm

 All content © Dawn Montgomery 

Yesterday’s post was an introduction to world building. Today I want to talk about what makes the heart of your story…your characters. Whether you write by the seat of your pants or meticulously plot every detail, every good story begins with your characters.

A dear writing friend once told me to take a character and determine what could be the worst possible thing you could do to them…then do it. You have to know more about your character to begin with, right?

If I don’t have a solid character foundation, then how can I create rules that I have to follow, or break, in order to complete the story?

For the duration of this world building break down, I’m going to use a current work in progress: Seduced in Shadow.

I knew I wanted a story that involved curses and elves. I mean, after all, no one does a curse like an elf does, right? I’ve always been fascinated by handsome, charismatic men who were vile, and terrible characters. So I knew I’d have a gorgeous male villain. Who would he be? He would have to be a blood relative of my hero, because cursing your own blood brings the hammer of doom on you as well…*rubs hands together in glee* Key things to remember, almost all bad guys will justify their behavior as the right thing. It’s rare in human nature for a person to knowingly do a bad thing just because it’s the wrong thing to do. There has to be a motivation. For my character, he feels that he was cheated of his birthright, and the destruction of his brother is worth any pain on his part. The call of the self-righteous…but he was mad to being with, see?

What about the hero/antihero? He would have to be my fallen angel. Trapped in a curse and forced to do the one thing he would have hated more than anything. And all this to keep his brother in power. He had to make a mistake, a horrible mistake, that put him in this place. Every waking moment would be a reminder of his that moment. He would be forced to relive his agony for as long as the curse held. I like tortured heroes, can you tell?

This is getting good!

Now for the heroine. Here is where it gets tricky. I need a lady who is strong enough to save the hero (and in turn, save herself), smart enough to find a way out of the mess she’s fallen into, and vulnerable enough to gain the trust of the reader. And here’s the key…I have to like her…or I’m going to write her death a thousand times. I’ve done it. I know. There has to be a very important reason for her to be there, a very special something making her a catalyst between these two powerful (and delicious) men.

I’ll leave that one for another workshop day.

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