Thursday, April 17, 2014

Birthing Great Characters by Dora Hiers

Dora here. Over the last few years, I have been blessed with many writer friends whose encouragement and fellowship make this writing journey so much sweeter. One such friend is award-winning inspirational author, Myra Johnson. Shortly after she moved to NC, we began teaming up to offer presentations covering a number of writing topics. One of our most popular workshops is Creating Characters that Come Alive. With her permission, over the next couple of months I will be sharing a few "teasers" from our workshop.

Are you a visual person? Do you see my hand waving high in the air?
How many times have you shelled out good money to watch a movie after reading the book, and then been disappointed that the actor/actress didn’t look anything like the image in your head? Did it spoil the movie for you?
Or, perhaps as a writer, you have no trouble glossing over body parts without a firm picture in your head...
“Kindness glimmered from his rugged, just-woke-up-and-no-time-to-shave face, and his powerful shoulders suggested he was a man who could carry any burden, no matter how heavy.”  ~Rori’s Healing, coming soon with Pelican Book Group
But what about painting the picture of your hero's face? Do you need something concrete? An image you can relate to, eyes for you to glimpse into their soul and to discover who they really are beneath the mask they show the world?

So what's the first step I take to bring my characters to life? 

I give them a face.
Here is a list of my favorite spots to find faces.
Magazines or department store sales fliers. Sometimes you can get several pictures of the same model in different clothes and poses.
Online sites like IMDb (an entertainment site) or Pinterest. Keep in mind copyright infringement laws. I only use these pictures for my reference.

Wikipedia. Not only is Wikipedia loaded with photos, it’s also a great source for character bios, which can be tweaked for your story.

Someone you know in real life. Maybe you know someone with the right look or a certain characteristic, like hair or eye color. Readers will appreciate and relate to your characters more if they’re not perfect or model gorgeous.

I don’t know about you, but my hero and heroine have to look good together or match. Initially in Journey’s Embrace, my love interests weren’t clicking for me, so a few pages into writing, I switched the hero out with another, and whoa! The words literally flowed from my fingertips, and the romantic tension was exactly what the original characters lacked.

Just a note of caution, though, as we’re discussing characters. Do what works to get the words on the page, but don’t become overly attached to the images you’ve formed while writing. Once you get that contract, you’ll submit a description of your characters to your editor, but it’s up to the publisher to find the closest match from their available stock photos. You may or may not have a final say in their choice.

Writers, what is your favorite destination to find faces for your characters?
Readers, chime in with your favorite fictional characters and why they are special to you.

Join us next month when we’ll give our characters a ...
hmmm, you'll just have to stop back by to find out. :)

Journey's Embrace
Purchase Link
After an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can’t refuse his best friend’s plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house. But Delaney’s not so little anymore—and definitely not the young “Dane” Sage remembers. 

Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he’s all about control and order while she embraces life and takes risks. As much as the idea appeals to her, she doesn’t need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her? 

Dora Hiers
Will Delaney ever be the woman Sage wants by his side? Can Sage learn to live by grace, recognizing that God is in control? Can they overcome their fears to embrace life together?

Dora Hiers is a multi-published author of Heart Racing, God-Gracing romances. She’s a member of RWA, ACFW, and the Treasurer for ACFW-Charlotte Chapter. Connect with her here on Seriously Write, her personal blogTwitterFacebook or Pinterest.