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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Secrets of Character Creation by Mysti Parker



Thanks so much for having me today. I’ve been asked to describe how I write the perfect character in terms of villain, hero, and heroine. While I’m sure you could find book after book on character creation, my short answer is simply: I write them how I like to read them. Years spent reading and watching films and TV have naturally given me preferences on what constitutes a good baddie, a heroic hero, and a heart-stopping heroine.

However, in the spirit of all things list-worthy, I’ll list a few things that are must-haves in my character creation, starting with:

The Villian
1.      He/She must be multi-faceted. This means not 100% evil. I’m sure even Hitler had a good point or two about him. Maybe he liked bunnies. Whatever the case, showing a soft side to the baddie is essential in making them realistic.
2.      The villain must have motivation. As a writer, you have to be the psychiatrist. Put the baddie on the couch and ask him/her why exactly they wanted to blow up the Eiffel Tower. Did his papa blow up his mama when he was a boy? Did her mama blow up her doll house when she was a girl? Give ‘em a reason for the meanness.

3.      The villain must have the upper hand at some point. You can all remember times in famous films and books when all hope seems to be lost. Luke Skywalker is facing off with Darth Vader, and for a moment, you fear that Darth might just kill him after all. That’s good villain writing!

The Hero
1.      He has a genuinely good heart, but he’s not perfect. I love writing flawed characters. My heroes have weaknesses. They’ve done things they regret, but when worst comes to worst, their hearts are in the right place.

2.      He’s not dark and brooding. I’ve liked my share of vampire guys, certainly. But, for me, those guys are hard to acclimate. My heroes like to have fun, and when they find a woman who matches their goofy side, all the better!

3.      He doesn’t always save the heroine. In fact, she just might save him! In “A Ranger’s Tale”, one of my favorite lines is, “I think we saved each other.” Which brings us to…

The Heroine
1.      She’s not a naïve virgin, for goodness sakes! I’ve read so many 80’s era romances about naïve virgins and velvety shafts, that I very rarely write my heroines that way. She may have had a lover or two or been married before. At the very least, she’s had some experiences in life and she’s not fresh off the farm, ready to transform the dark, brooding, promiscuous male into the perfect hero with her innocence.

2.      She may be a diva, a damsel, or somewhere in between, but she’s going to learn just how strong she really can be during the course of the story. My girls may thirst for adventure or long or a quiet life in a small town, but they’re going to have to work for their goals. They don’t completely depend on the hero to save them.

3.      Speaking of goals, her only goal isn’t to land the hero. Caliphany in A Ranger’s Tale set off to live on her own and leave everyone else behind. She just happened to fall in love along the way. I think it brings us back to the multi-faceted trait. She’s got to have some aspirations in life other than living happily ever after with her man.

I    I hope this has given you some idea of how this writer forms her characters. This isn’t the only way, and I’m still learning what makes the people in my stories tick. It’s rather fun to get to know them over the course of the story, and I truly miss them when the tale comes to an end. I hope my readers feel the same!
    
    Now grab a good book and a hot cup of coffee and enjoy meeting some new characters!


Blurb: Set in the fantasy world of Tallenmere, the high elf Caliphany Aranea longs to explore the world and escape from her controlling father. Her dreams are fulfilled when she meets ranger and ship captain Galadin Trudeaux. But, when secrets from the past bring tragedy to those she loves, Caliphany must fight to hold on to the life she's always wanted.

Excerpt from Chapter 18:

Galadin

Cali stood and flung her bow over her shoulder.
I waved my hands at her. “Cali, I think you should stay here in the camp.”
“I will do no such thing.”
“The goblins aren’t to be taken lightly. They can swarm on you in an instant.”
“Which is all the more reason I should go along to help.”
There was no arguing with her, not with that stubborn set of her chin and those flashing blue eyes. Damn, she was beautiful when she set her mind to do something.
“All right, then, let’s go, but we have to be careful.”
We climbed the narrow path up the cliff side to the ancient temple. Bastivar was a crumbling, pillared fortress carved into the mountainside in honor of the goddess Innessa. Worshippers had long since vanished, and as long as anyone could remember, the only current inhabitants were goblins.
“Hidari mi compli,” we chanted, and sneaked inside. Our eyes adjusted to the dim light in the entryway.
“I’ll draw some of them out,” I whispered. “Stay concealed, and when you see one coming, shoot it.”
Down one corridor, a group of three goblins came toward me. I aimed and shot one, then ran back when the other two charged. Cali’s first arrow barely missed my head, but she got one. I shot the last one as she readied another arrow.
“Nicely done,” I whispered. “Now, we—”
“Achoo!” Cali couldn’t stop her sneeze in time. She whispered, “I’m sorry.”
A great snarling ensued from within the main corridor.
A horde of beady, yellow eyes came toward us.
“Cali, run!”
She fled, and we ran down the cliff side as fast as we could without falling off. We reached the forest floor, and I looked back. Goblins streamed out of the ruins, so many that some fell off the cliff. There had never been this many before. It must have been a long while since anyone had cleared them out. We sped through the underbrush. Thorns scratched our skin and snagged our leathers, but they were gaining on us.
We reached the main path, and I grabbed Cali. “Give me my father’s sword.”
She unsheathed it and handed it to me. “Galadin, there’s too many. We’ll never fight them off.”
“Conceal yourself and run. Now!”
She clutched my sleeve. “I won’t leave you here!”
For the brief moment while the goblins closed in, I met her panic-stricken eyes. I’d never met a woman I would die for, until then. “Go!”
I pushed her on, and she turned to run. Goblins burst through the bush, and I readied my sword. Right and left, I swung, impaling and kicking them off the blade, chopping off spindly gray limbs, a head when I could aim just right. Piles of jerking bodies began to pile at my feet. The onslaught lessened, but before I could catch my breath, another wave of them burst forth.
One of them latched onto my arm, its jagged teeth sinking in through the leather. I cried out. Then, an arrow sank into its ugly body. Cali had come back, her next arrow nocked and ready. I shook the goblin off my arm. Still, they came, yet another wave.
She threw down her bow and ran to my side. “Galadin, get back!”
“What? No, I told you to run!”
“No time.”
She pulled me back, stepped in front of me, and held out her hands. Blue fire burst from her palms, like flaming blasts of lightning, but continuous, and dreadfully hot. I had to back away from the intensity of the heat. The inferno charred the goblins, turning them from gray, to black, to piles of ashes before my eyes. The fire consumed every bush and weed, everything in its path, until the goblins in the rear decided they were outmatched. Shrieking, they turned and hightailed it back up the cliff and into Bastivar.
Cali stared at her smoking hands. I ran to her, relieved to see that she wasn’t burned. But, she was weakened. I embraced her, letting her catch her breath, her head on my shoulder. I ran my fingers along her braid.
“I didn’t know you could do that,” I said.
She raised her head and peered into my eyes. “I didn’t either.”
Then, our lips met, and nothing else mattered.
* * * * *                 

Author Bio:
Mysti Parker is a full-time wife, mom of three, and a writer. Born and raised in Kentucky, writing has always been her first love. After many years of pursuing other things, she began her writing career in earnest in 2009. Look for more romantic tales from her fantasy world of Tallenmere, where magic, passion, murder, and mayhem are a part of everyday life.



3 comments:

  1. Thanks for having me again!! :)

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  2. Yeey, Mysti!
    Loved that whole diva-damsel talk in there ;) You know my views on that as well - also on the antagonist. Lovely post!

    still your groupie

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  3. The diva/damsel subject was inspired by you, of course :)

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