Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Roots: Keys to Our Pasts and Futures by Cara Putman

Isn't this a cute group of kids? My dad's buried under the pile. I'm probably eight, since I'm guessing Joel is about one.

You can learn a lot about me by looking at this photo. I smile big. I’m the big sister.

And I got to thinking about what that means for the characters I create. Right now, I’m  working on deepening the main characters for a new series’ proposal. I’ve got the historical hook – a really unique and high-concept one.  I’ve got the setting – dictated by the history. I’ve even got most of the plot points and conflict. The hardest part of the process for me is taking the time to drill down into the main characters' psyches. Even after all the books I’ve written this is where I still have to work – and it is work for me. What makes them act, think and talk the way they do?

For example, most who know me correctly identify me as Type A within about three minutes. Look at this photo. Doesn't it make sense? I'm your stereotypical first born...just read Kevin Leman's Birth Order book if you're not sure what that entails. And this photo clearly shows that. Who has her arms wrapped around all three of her siblings? Yep...

But that's a simple characterizer. Identify the birth order of characters and it gives a core set of criteria for how they might act. But it's certainly not a guarantee.

I also tend to engage a full room -- doesn't matter how many people are in it. That's not necessarily a function of my birth order. For me, I think it had more to do with being an early homeschooler who felt the need to break the stereotype that homeschoolers are wallflowers. And I genuinely like people. But why might a character be an extrovert or introvert? What's the lie they believe about themselves?

All of these questions require thought and diving deep. Hard work. But critical to creating characters readers can emotionally connect with. And that after all is what we all want!

What’s a book you read lately that had characters that were rich and deep? If you’re a writer, how do you dig deep enough to create those kinds of characters?

Cara C. Putman lives in Indiana with her husband and four children. She’s an attorney and a ministry leader and teacher at her church. She has loved reading and writing from a young age and now realizes it was all training for writing books. An honors graduate of the University of Nebraska and George Mason University School of Law, Cara loves bringing history and romance to life.

Cara love for readers to stop by her website where they can read excerpts of her books including her spring releases Cherry Blossom Capers and A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island. Http://www.caraputman.com and you can find her blog Http://blog.caraputman.com. She’s also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cara.putman and Pinterest.


  1. Hi Cara! Great post. Digging into characters is a BIG challenge, but so important for crafting a story readers care about. Thanks for being here.


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