Monday, March 10, 2014

The Odd Characters by Carole Brown

Carole Brown

Creating unique characters project after project is challenging. Carole Brown is here to share some tips for keeping your characters from being too similar. Enjoy! ~ Annette

The Odd Characters by Carole Brown

“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.” Luke 19:41

Jesus wasn’t a character but a real live person who had passionate feelings about the sacredness of the temple and the lost of Jerusalem. He experienced anger. He suffered sorrow and heartbreak. He was alive. He is alive.

How can we bring our characters to life? What do you aim for when creating them? Gentleness? Spunkiness? Courageousness? Loveliness? These are good traits.

We’ve all created exciting and entertaining plots in our novels or at least we hope to. Plots that keep us and our readers shivering with suspense, breathless with the romance between a couple, excited with their newly discovered world. Passionate plots that could soar to bestseller lists if it weren’t for the same old, same old, carbon-copy, boring characters who drags through the whole novel.

I insist that it’s the characters who add spice to that brilliant plot!

Do they dance across the written page? Stand out? We’ve been taught they must be likeable, and that’s true. We’ve been taught to always give the antagonist a redeeming trait and always make the protagonist sympathetic. Both also true.

But they must have more than just the above. Let’s look at a few examples:

Interesting contrasts: 
Tough: Boxer and Private Investigator 
Soft: cooking, pet dog, philosophical

Spencer (former boxer) is supposed to be rough and tough. After all, he goes after the worst criminals with his pal who would rather shoot than argue. But Spencer has a soft spot for cooking and his pet dog, Pearl, quotes philosophical lines, and dates a psychologist. An intriguing combination.

Is she a mystical person? Or a wannabe mystery lover?

Have you heard about the amateur sleuth who loves mysteries so much she has an all-mystery bookstore and a black cat? Enough said. That spikes a thrilling interest right off the bat!

Fun and Whimsical
A cat who howls when a murder takes place.
How about the former newspaper man who inherited money, solves mysteries, & insists his cat knows when there's been a murder? Whimsical and fun.

An out-of-work actress who cat-sits to pay the bills

The out-of-work middle-aged woman who cat-sits AND is a sometime actress with bits and pieces she attains when she can. Still attractive, she comes across as rather quiet and perhaps a bit uninteresting. Yet her odd friends and the respect shown her proves there’s more to her than meets the eye.

Young and Idealistic

Christy—young and ambitious—is out to change the world, yet the first time she sees something disgusting, she gets sick. The comparison between her cleanliness and youth, and the different dirty-poor world she voluntarily enters, sets the reader in prime position for high level entertainment.

Mean and Cruel, yet redeemable

Mr. Scrooge who'd rather freeze than spend a penny? We gain no happiness from him, yet we continue to hope for his change and cheer him on. We wait for the time of glorious redemption within his life.

Finally, take a look at your current work in progress. Is the main character similar to the last one you wrote? How can you create him/her to spring from the written page?

Happy character building!


Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here:

Carole is also part of several other blogs:
Barn Door Book Loft:


Hog Insane
The Davis couple load up their RV and eagerly head for a campground in the Smokey Mountains. Newly retired, Denton hopes to use this trip to rekindle the dwindling flame of his marriage. In spite of her protests, he is sure his wife looks forward to the much-deserved rest and relaxation as much as he does.

They barely arrive at their destination when a risk-taking motorcyclist speeds past them, followed by a careening sports car. Denton remembers the fatal tangle of his nephew ten years earlier...with the bike that Denton had taught him to ride. Things continue to go south the rest of the evening, culminating in Denton finding a body sprawled in the brush beside the path to their cabin. Now Denton has a job to do and a mystery to solve.