First off, a huge thank you to Delilah for letting me visit her blog again today! It’s always so much fun here.
I spent most of last week in New York at the annual Romance Writers of America conference. There were some really amazing workshops and speakers, and my critique partner and I both came home filled with inspiration. I’ve been thinking about how to put some of the things I picked up in those workshops to good use as I’m finishing the third book in my Medusa trilogy, and get the first book in my shifter series through the first draft. In particular, I’ve been thinking about creating memorable characters. And, more specifically, about characters I have found memorable, whether in books or on television or movie screens, and how their creators made them so memorable.
One of my favorite shows on television right now is The Walking Dead. Not because I’m a fan of gore, which the series has by the truckful, but because they have created characters that viewers get so attached to. If you’ve watched the show, you know the creators don’t shy away from killing off beloved characters, and by now viewers expect their favorites to die eventually. But even knowing it’s coming doesn’t make it easier—I’ve sobbed my way through a lot of episodes when they killed off someone I loved, or when a character I cared about has had to deal with something particularly awful. One of the main characters, Rick Grimes, has faced more than any man should be expected to deal with, no matter what is going on in the world. Last season, there was one character death that I knew was coming (and I haven’t read the graphic novels, but I’m a writer; I can’t help analyzing story as I’m watching, no matter how wrapped up in it I might be), but even knowing it was coming didn’t make it easier. And having to see how it affected the other characters made it that much worse.
A few years ago, one of my favorite TV series ended, a show called In Plain Sight. The main character was a U.S. Marshall named Mary Shannon. She was seriously kick-ass, but the character was also very damaged, and she was pretty good at keeping those wounds hidden most of the time. Her family was so screwed up—an alcoholic mother, a sister hiding from her bad guy boyfriend, and a father who went MIA when Mary was a kid—and most of the time, she was the only one holding everything together, despite whatever her own issues might be. The things Mary faced are things many people face daily, and she just did what needed to be done, period. Mary was a role model, even if she would have punched your lights out for suggesting it.
Some of my favorite book characters remain Jo March and her sisters from Little Women. No, they’re not facing anything extraordinary like a zombie apocalypse, or hunting down federal witnesses who might not want to testify. They’re facing everyday challenges and they make us care about what happens to them. That’s one reason many of us read, so we can meet these people, spend some time with them, fall in love or go on an adventure with them. And, if the writer does her job properly, we will remember them long after we’ve closed that book, or turned off the television. That’s one of my favorite things about finding a good book, thinking about the characters long after I’ve finished their story.
It’s one of the things that makes me go back to a book, despite having a TBR pile that will last for decades–sometimes you just love a character so much you need to revisit them once in a while. One of my favorite re-reads is the “Harry Potter” series, another is The Iliad and the Odyssey. These are full of characters I can’t forget, and, even though I already know how their stories turn out, I want to go on that journey with them again.
So that is my aim, as I keep writing (and re-writing), to create characters readers will find not just believable, but memorable. And so I’ll keep practicing and keep writing. I’ve included a little story excerpt below for you.
I also have a giveaway: an e-book copy of Hunting Medusa. I want to know who some of your favorite memorable characters are. All commenters will be entered into a drawing via RandomResult.com and the winner can choose their e-book format.
About the Author
Elizabeth Andrews has been a book lover since she was old enough to read. She read her copies of Little Women and the Little House series so many times, the books fell apart. As an adult, her book habit continues. She has a room overflowing with her literary collection right now, and still more spreading into other rooms. Almost as long as she’s been reading great stories, she’s been attempting to write her own. Thanks to a fifth grade teacher who started the class on creative writing, Elizabeth went from writing creative sentences to short stories and eventually full-length novels. Her father saved her poor, callused fingers from permanent damage when he brought home a used typewriter for her.
Elizabeth found her mother’s stash of romance novels as a teenager, and-though she loves horror- romance became her very favorite genre, making writing romances a natural progression. There are more than just a few manuscripts, however, tucked away in a filing cabinet that will never see the light of day.
Along with her enormous book stash, Elizabeth lives with her husband of twenty-plus years and two young adult sons, though no one else in the house reads nearly as much as she does. When she’s not at work or buried in books or writing, there is a garden outside full of herbs, flowers and vegetables that requires occasional attention.
The Medusa Trilogy, Book 1
When Kallan Tassos tracks down the current Medusa, he expects to find a monster. Instead he finds a wary, beautiful woman, shielded by a complicated web of spells that foils his plans for a quick kill and retrieval of her protective amulet.
Andrea Rosakis expects the handsome Harvester to go for the kill. Instead, his attempt to take the amulet imprinted on her skin without harming her takes her completely by surprise. And ends with the two of them in a magical bind—together. But Kallan isn’t the only Harvester on Andi’s trail…
“How many sleeping bags do you have back there?” He had to know.
The soft sounds resumed, this time more quietly so he assumed she was quickly pulling on dry clothes. “One. But there are extra blankets.” The reply was unsteady, as if she might be imagining the same things he was.
One sleeping bag. Of course. He shut his eyes for a second. As he went to his backpack, he unbuttoned his cargo pants, then tugged out dry clothing. His fingers were clumsy on the heavy material, made clumsier by the enticing images floating behind his eyes.
He shucked his wet pants and moved toward the front of the cave to dress.
A choked sound from Andrea made him freeze as he stuck his foot into his dry cargo pants. And every nerve in him hummed to life, zinging electricity to his groin. Read the rest of this entry »