Today’s Indie Author Spotlight takes a different format than the interviews I’ve been featuring here. I’m excited to share today a guest post from indie author Victoria Jayne, in which she shares with us some of her thoughts on character development. It’s fascinating to me to learn how different authors approach getting to know their characters, and to see the effort put into developing convincing characters. As a reader and an editor, I appreciate Victoria’s comments about really knowing your characters, even though every detail of their backstories won’t make it into the book. I learned about some interesting character development resources, and I hope you will, too!
Victoria Jayne writes paranormal romance – the third book in her Prophecy Trilogy releases in September! – and is currently working on a contemporary romance series. Growing up on the Jersey Shore (like me!), Victoria was an insatiable reader. She adored getting lost in the worlds others created for her. Writers from R.L. Stein and S.E. Hinton to Anne Rice and Elisabeth Naughton spawned her love affair with both the romance genre and the world of the supernatural.
Victoria started writing as a hobby while still in high school. Now her days are spent writing and enjoying time with her husband and her two children. She still lives in New Jersey. She is a New Jersey Devils Hockey fan, an avid SecondLife Roleplayer, and a Netflix binge-watcher.
Where do your characters come from? Are your characters based off people you know? How do you create characters? If you’re a writer and have informed people of this, I haven’t a doubt in my mind you’ve gotten these questions, or some variant of them. Character creation is the true magic of being a storyteller. Conjuring someone in my mind and then conveying that person so well they become living and breathing in the minds of another person is the reason I write. It’s an indescribable high that I chase with each story I write.
I’m going to lift the veil slightly by describing how I come up with my characters. By sharing how I come up with characters I hope it helps all you writers out there struggling to either develop or add depth to your own. For me, character comes before the story. Someone takes hold of my mind, commands my attention, and starts sharing things about themselves with me. As I learn more about this fictional person, a plot develops and thus a story is born. See, magic!
I’m a very visual person. When I have the urge to write but nothing is coming to me, I scroll through some visual outlets and wait until someone grabs me. I follow a few photographers on Facebook and Instagram; Michael Stokes posts some stunning photos that have tickled my brain. I’ve also used Shutterstock once I have a basic idea of what sort of genre I’m looking to write in. While planning The Witch of the Prophecy I utilized Pinterest a lot. My character boards were filled with images of the particular people who inspired my characters, and also of cultures. Divina Bihari, the main character of this book, is a witch. In my mind, she was of Romani descent. I dug into this a bit and my Pinterest board had images of Romani women, their cultural clothing, and the wooden vardos they were known to reside in.
Another way I got into the mindset of Divina, to learn how she thinks, and what motivates her was by searching story starters. Some of the story starters available are quotes, things people say. I was drawn to snarky comments that held a bit of sass. AFakeRedHead.com had a lot of writing prompts that shaped Divina.
Another strategy I utilized when shaping characters is filling out character development sheets. You can find dozens of these sheets by simply googling “character development sheets.” I believe these are commonly used for roleplay games such as Dungeons and Dragons. One that I utilize is available on https://www.writerswrite.co.za/ . It’s from their blog post dated March 19, 2017 titled: Character Interview – A Worksheet for Beginners.
The final thing I do when developing my characters is participate in a Twitter hashtag conversation. #WriterlyWIPChat is a beautiful resource that allows you to think about your character in ways that will shape them. They ask you questions about your character like their favorite color, favorite band, song, etc. Some of the questions get a bit more personal like “who will your character kiss?” Not only is this fun and gets you involved in the writing community out there, it also helps you to get closer to your characters. Collecting details about my characters makes them more real to me. When I learn about their quirks, discovering who doesn’t take the time to match their socks versus who meticulous pairs and rolls their socks in their dresser, can shape how I convey this character in the story. Every detail you list or learn about your character doesn’t make it into the story. There are some things that just don’t fit into the story. Though, sometimes, things that you never thought of will find their way in there. By adding depth to your characters, it allows your readers to connect with not only the character, but their plight, and the story you are telling. Dynamic characters will never let you down. They will engage your reader for sure!
Find Victoria Jayne:
Twitter and Instagram: @AuthorVictoriaJ
Find Victoria’s books at Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Amazon, Google Play, and iBooks.
Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thank you for this opportunity. I look forward to engaging with people on this topic.
That’s a really great way to find inspiration for characters by looking at photographs, and then the specifics of the backeof characters etc
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Absolutely!! Inspiration is everywhere!
Very good information.