Building Character in Your Story (Guest Post)
Today we have our second guest post for this month! Today we have Anne Tibbets here to talk to you about building character. Anne has written two great new adult dystopians, Carrier and Walled.
Synopsis for Carrier: Twenty-two-year-old Naya has spent nearly half her life as a sex slave in a
government institution called The Line. Excommunicated after getting pregnant
with twins, she’s left with no way to earn a living and a horrifying choice to
make: find someone to replace her at the institution by the time she gives
birth, or have her babies taken in her stead.
Ric Bennett wants to help. A doctor with a history of aiding ex-Line girls,
he runs a team of rebels that can delete Naya’s records, prevent her from having
to make an impossible choice, and free her forever. But when his plan is sniffed
out, things get bloody, fast. The Line wants them back. The organization has
discovered information about Naya and her twins that make them more valuable
than just sex slaves. It makes them dangerous—and part of The Line’s larger
As they hide from government search parties, Ric comes to admire Naya’s quiet
strength. And Naya realizes Ric might be a man she can trust. If they make it
off the grid, they could build a new life. But first they’ll have to survive the
long, vicious reach of The Line.
Synopsis for Walled: Freedom means making brutal choices.
Rebel lovers Naya and Ric have survived one year in hiding, raising Naya’s
twins from infants to toddlers in the shadow of the brutal Auberge dictatorship.
They’re alive, and they’re together, but the city is crumbling around them and
the haunting memory of Naya’s dark days on The Line have never fully left them.
Living in isolation won’t be an option forever.
When a mysterious revolutionary seeks their help to infiltrate Auberge’s
electronic heart and shut it down, it’s an opportunity—it’s risky, yes, but if
it works they’ll get out of the city and taste freedom for the first time. Naya
needs this. They need this.
Beyond the broken walls of Auberge, Naya and Ric find the paradise they’ve
always longed for. But with anarchy reigning and Naya’s children lost amidst the
chaos, they’ll need to forfeit their post-apocalyptic Eden…or commit an
Guest Post: When I start writing a new book, I hear character voices in
my head. It’s a healthy kind of schizophrenia. For me, building a character can
be as simple as listening to the voices and letting them tell me who they are.
But in the interest of instruction, here are some steps I take that help me
mold that character beyond their words and into a well-rounded individual.
ever listened to people talk? Not looked, but just listened? I used to be legally blind (I had laser eye surgery
several years ago), but back when I was “blind,” and when I was feeling
overwhelmed, I would sometimes take my glasses off and just listen. At school, while watching TV, at
a family dinner – anywhere really, and I would let their voices penetrate my
brain. Everybody talks differently. Some people squeak when they get excited.
Some people drop their voices when they get angry. Some people choke right
before they’re going to laugh. Some people use the same words over and over.
Some smack their lips after every sentence, or inhale loudly before speaking. I
challenge you to find your character’s voice.
when you hear ‘voice’ you think that editors are talking about word choice, and
cadence, and tone and mood of the character’s narration – and you need to work
on that, too. But when I speak of voice (no pun intended), I mean the tambour,
the inflections, the vocal ticks and mannerisms. If you add those to your word
choice and character narration, etc., and you have already created a character
with more personality than half the real life people I’ve met.
tell you how many times I’ve watched a romantic comedy movie where one
character tells another, “You’re so cynical!” And either a) we, the audience,
have already figured that out, so it’s unnecessary for the other character to
even mention it, or b) we, the audience, are perplexed because the supposedly
cynical character hasn’t acted cynical AT ALL.
this. If you give a character a flaw, for example, let’s give our hero a nasty
temper – let this temper play into the story. Let the reader see this temper flare, more than once,
and have it affect everything. Don’t
just list the character’s flaws and then have them act like flawless robots;
make it count. Make the flaws factor into the plot, their relationships,
how the other characters talk/deal with them. Have it happen at the worst
possible moment. Use your character’s flaws as a means to add depth and
complexity to the story by making it matter – because giving a character flaws
and then not using them is just a waste of a good opportunity.
building characters. But if you do these two things, then you are on your way
to creating a richer reader experience and building characters that will live
not just in you, but on the page.