Friday, April 19, 2013

Our Guest Velda Brotherton's Take on Sympathetic Characters

Today visiting our blog is Velda Brotherton, author of the recent Wilda's Outlaw: The Victorians. Thank you, for being here today.

Sympathetic Characters Make Your Story

Several reviews of my books claim my strongest point is creating characters, and sometimes I'm not sure how that came about. People fascinate me, especially those who are slightly off kilter. Who walk the edge and often topple off it. One thing's clear, in all the years I've spent writing and observing people, they do change and often. If everyone remained the same from young adulthood to old age, how boring they would be. Both to others and themselves. And one thing's for sure, even the best plot will fall flat without interesting characters.
As I create characters, they change over the course of the story. They adapt to the world around them, wherever they may go. They grow stronger and wiser while they struggle to survive whatever I throw at them.
No two are alike either. Each has some flaw that defines them, just as their strengths define them. Their fears are useful too. If a character fears dark places, then put her there sooner or later so she will have to overcome that fear. Challenge each one with the toughest conditions you can come up with. Don't feel sorry for them, don't let up. Once they conquer one challenge, hit them with another. They will develop their own strengths and weaknesses.
Not only is it important to create different characters for your novel, it is important they don't all speak alike. Perfection is boring, as is perfect English as the spoken word. So working on the dialog of each character is so essential. In today's world, though, dialect is a no-no. That was popular when Mark Twain was writing his wonderful books. It no longer is. A word or two, sprinkled sparsely is enough. It's sufficient to say he spoke with a Western twang and dropped his gs, or she spoke with a southern drawl as sweet as honey, than it is to try and write their speeches phonetically.
Some writers make charts for their characters. I don't. Mine develop their own lives as I write the first two or three chapters. It's fun to discover from my heroine that she is afraid of rats and not snakes, or that she is tolerant of the behavior of the hero because she has three brothers, and then realize three or four chapters later that this is going to work fine with a scene. Of course, this means a lot of scribbling as I write to make sure I don't forget anything. I'm a firm believer that our brains allow certain things to happen for a reason when we write. We should go with our "gut" so to speak. However, some people cannot write that way, and that's fine. Make charts, do outlines, write synopsis if you want.
Create characters that readers can relate to, sympathize with, laugh and cry with, and you'll have a good book.

Velda Brotherton is the author of 15 historical books, both fiction and nonfiction. She writes of romance in the old West with an authenticity that makes her many historical characters ring true. A knowledge of the rich history of our country comes through in both her fiction and nonfiction books, as well as in her writing workshops and speaking engagements. She just as easily steps out of the past into contemporary settings to create novels about women with the ability to conquer life’s difficult challenges. Tough heroines, strong and gentle heroes, villains to die for, all live in the pages of her novels and books.

You can visit her at:

Twitter: @veldabrotherton 

Buy link:  Wilda's Outlaw

No comments: