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Considering Characters

Considering your characters

When thinking about characters, the tendency for many is to start with an archetype — the strong silent soldier/cowboy,  the remote, buttoned up duke/billionaire businessman, the wild, unpredictable bad boy etc.

Archetypes can be useful as a starting point, but unless you go deeper, there is a risk of your characters being a bit too clichéd for comfort.

You need to twist the cliché, go deeper into your character’s personality and back story, find out his secrets and his deeply buried fears/hopes/vulnerabilities.

Consider this poem, by the Russian poet, Yevtushenko.

People, by Yevgeny Yevtushenko

No people are uninteresting.
Their fate is like the chronicle of planets.

Nothing in them in not particular, 
and planet is dissimilar from planet.

And if a man lived in obscurity
making his friends in that obscurity
obscurity is not uninteresting.

To each his world is private
and in that world one excellent minute.
And in that world one tragic minute

These are private.
In any man who dies there dies with him
his first snow and kiss and fight
it goes with him.
                                                    (Read the rest of the poem here)

At a distance, your characters might fit an archetype, but the closer and deeper you go, the more individual and particular they become. Think of your character’s ‘one excellent minute’, and ‘one tragic minute’,  their ‘first snow, and kiss and fight’ — or your versions of those— the events that contributed to the formation of their character and personality, gave them their hangups and their strengths and their blind spots. 

Consider the ways in which they might be “stuck” in their current life.

Then brainstorm events and challenges in your plot that might cause them—force them!—to change.

And finally, consider this quote from Vicki Hinze: “Find your character’s Achille’s heel — their greatest fear or weakness or vulnerability.  Then stomp on it.”

Writing Workshop in Sydney

On Saturday 11th March I’m conducting a one day writing workshop at the beautiful old NSW Writers Centre in Rozelle, Sydney. Further details of the course, including booking links and pricing are here: http://www.nswwc.org.au/products-page/fiction/romancing-the-page/

Here is part of the blurb for the course:
Romance is character-driven genre fiction. Forget about “the formula” — there’s no such thing. Like all popular fiction, it must delight, surprise and entertain readers.  Romance (in all its varied guises) accounts for a huge chunk of the international fiction market, and even adding a thread of romance to a story in another genre will extend the appeal of that book — as long as you do it well. 

The NSW Writers Centre is a little tricky to find — it’s in the grounds of Callan Park, Balmain Rd
Rozelle, in Garry Owen House (The NSW Writers’ Centre) Enter the park grounds from the Balmain Road gate opposite Cecily Street and follow the green signs to the NSW Writers’ Centre — the photo above.

 

The ARRA Awards

Australian Romance Readers Convention on the weekend, catching up with reader and writer friends and meeting new people. And, as it turned out, receiving awards, because at the ARRA Annual Awards dinner, I was pretty much blown away when I walked (tottered?) away with five awards. 

Members’ Choice awards:

  • Favourite Heroine:  Daisy Chance in The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie.
  • Favourite Couple: the winner was Daisy and Flynn in The Summer Bride by Anne Gracie.
  • Favourite Historical Romance 2016 is The Summer Bride by Anne
    Gracie. 

  • Favourite Continuing Romance Series 2016 is the Chance Sisters
     series by Anne Gracie. 

  • Favourite Australian Romance Author 2016 is Anne Gracie. 

    As you can imagine, I was utterly thrilled. Thanks to the readers, the ARRA organisers (all volunteers) and to the sponsors for making the night such a fantastic one. And congratulations to ALL the winners and finalists.

    Thanks also to Kylie Scott who, as I was accepting the 5th award, and had completely run out of speech-style things to say, asked me a question about my red cowboy boots. :)

    The full list of winners is here:
    https://australianromancereaders.wordpress.com/2017/02/26/2016-awards-winners/