Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Birthing a Hero By Elizabeth Noyes

When a reader wants to chat about my books, I let them do the talking. With a few guided questions and a keen ear, their feedback can provide real reader insight. Some may prattle on about the plot while others revisit the location, the twists and turns, hijinks, and scenes that made them laugh or cry. Always, though, without exception, the characters are what kept them turning the pages.

This Amazon review of my first book is from a complete stranger and sums up what many of my readers have told me:

“I am usually not a fan of adventure writing or masculine female characters. Everyone who's already read Imperfect Wings knows it looks, at first glance, like a huge dose of each. Let me tell you, once I reached page 42, I could not put this book down. I loved TJ and Garrett, loved their romance (so refreshingly believable), loved the decency of the brothers and the whole family ...”

After seeing this, I knew my characters were golden. I also realized strong, well-developed characters populate the books I read. In other words, I write what I read.

How do you turn a character into a real, 3-D person that readers will love? 

There are writing resources galore, any of which can explain the mechanics of character development better than I can, but this is how I go about it.

Step 1: Everything that looks too perfect is too perfect to be perfect ...

My hero starts out as a vague idea with genetically determined characteristics. I can’t pick him out of lineup yet, so I sift through online photos until “The One” steps forward and says, “Hello, sweetheart. I’m ready to tell my story.”

Step 2: A rose by any other name ...

Names are important. I dig through census reports, telephone listings, popular baby names of his birth year, and much more because the name has to fit his age, location, ethnicity, family socio-economic status, and his personality.

Memorable characters need memorable names. Think Holly Golightly, Atticus Finch, Inigo Montoya, Hannibal Lecter, Rocky Balboa, and yes, even Christian Grey.

Step 3: Nobody looks like what they really are on the inside ...

Now that I know my hero’s voice and name and can pick him out of a lineup, who is he really?

Readers want living, breathing characters with personality, an ego, faults, feelings, failings, thoughts, reactions, regrets, vulnerabilities, emotions, and much more. These heroes have hopes and dreams, likes and dislikes, and sometimes they do stupid things for right or wrong reasons. Just like you and me. That allows the reader to relate ... and connect. All we as writers have to do is imbue these traits in our characters through dialogue (internal and spoken), actions, and emotions. I know I’ve achieved this when I find myself laughing or crying over a scene.


Elizabeth Noyes, award winning author of The Imperfect Series, is an Atlanta resident. She writes edgy, action-packed romantic suspense that reminds us despite our flaws, we each have the ability and the choice to affect right and wrong in our world.

               Amazon Author Page
Imperfect Wings    
Imperfect Trust      
Imperfect Bonds    
Imperfect Lies       
           Imperfect Promises