Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Let’s talk about characters. No, not weird people, but Characters we write about. I think Characterization is the toughest part about writing a book. It’s like Voice, how do you define it.

1282454We’ve all interviewed our Characters. Let me tell you, all my Hero’s like the color blue, they are usually looking for love, but don’t know it, and they have mystical eye colors. They are at least six feet tall, handsome, clever, witty, and border on being rude. They have something in their pasts they are trying to get over, and at the beginning of the book they swear to remain bachelors.

Does that pretty much cover the Heroes?

1209045The Heroines are all beautiful, shapely, intelligent, and in desperate need of something; usually a hero. She’s educated, wears stilettos everywhere, lives on coffee and has a great job.

Sound like any Heroines you’ve read before?

1283145Okay, you take these traits and try like all-get-outs to breathe life into them, and it’s very hard. They feel stiff, cookie-cutterish, and unbelievable.

What’s a writer to do, you ask? Don’t all the workshops tell you to interview your Characters, give them a flaw, trash their back story, and throw a little motivation their way and you will be just fine, right?
Until you re-read your first chapter and you know, deep in your heart, something is missing. The Character! How do you fix that?

I tried this lately and it seems to work.

As modern Romance writers we are sometimes guilty of being a little bit lazy. At least I am. And remember, I have the attention span of a gnat. So, I don’t waste a lot of time on anything.
But Characters are the most important thing in your story. You can have a plot that only Megamind could figure out, and description that makes you want to cry, and motivation strong enough to tempt your reader to want to jump into the book and make it happen. But remember, a book is the Character’s story. They are the reason we write in the first place. And if you aren’t into the Hero/Heroine, you won’t finish the book.

743315So, how do we make them real? I mean really, really, really real.

Start out with a REAL person. I’m serious!

There are more Characters in my life than I have books to write in my lifetime, even if I were younger. My family alone could fill a bookshelf.

So, start with real people, with real personalities and embellish like hell.

1330602Every one of my Characters are someone I know. Not the complete person, but if I told them who they were, they would recognize themselves immediately.

Okay, let’s start with some general things. First, I know three people that never, ever lie. Not even itsy, bitsy, tiny lies. And my husband is one of those people. Never ask him if these pants make your butt look big. You won’t like the answer.

Also, I have several people in my life I truly admire. They are noble and honest people. Also, I have friends who make me laugh, make me cry, make me sit up and pay attention.

I also know people I don’t trust at all. Also, I know liars, and cons and irresponsible people. I know people who constantly accept challenges they can never meet. I know people who are lazy and whiners.

I know big hearted people, cold hearted people, good hearted people, evil hearted people and tons of no good scoundrels. 

832824If we get back to studying the people in our lives that we work with, shared a childhood with, or are related to, we would create great Characters because you have the bare bones of a Character in the people we already know.

If you are struggling with a Character, ask yourself; in real life, who does this person remind me of? Or this person I know, or work with, or am related to would make the great beginning of a fantastic Character in my book.

Give it a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Better yet, look in the mirror and ask yourself what’s inside you that would make a great character. I didn’t say you had to use every personality trait. J

Write On!

Geri Foster


  1. Geri, you are one of the real characters on whom I can depend! When you give your word, it's a done deal and no one has to wonder what will happen. That said, you create wonderful characters too. And your plots take a Megamind to come up with. Your are a genius and don't realize it. Great post!

  2. I have always kinda seen myself in the heroine spot--how real is that for you :-)

    But no, you're right. It can get you to that level/depth that you might have been missing.

  3. Great post, Geri! A wonderful idea to help create characters that will resonate with the readers. After all, what do we remember most about in great stories? The characters, right?