It’s All About Good Character

First – I’d like to wish a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all you moms out there – you guys are the real superheroes of the world. Whether your kids are sitting by your side this morning or somewhere out in the world, you guys rock, and even if no one else tells you today, I appreciate you and the hard work you’ve put into being a mother. Enjoy your day!

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Next, a little news from Marcum Manor. My son’s been home from college for a week now, and we’re starting to fall into the old rhythms again. It’s nice to have him here. I missed him terribly while he was away at school, and having him back here every day is a relief to my mommy mind. He’s already made his first trip back to his college town of the summer – his swim team friends had a bonfire Friday night, and he went bowling on Saturday afternoon with someone who is pretty special to him. It’s so good to see him coming into his own, but a little sad, too, because of how evident it is that he’s truly becoming his own man.

I’ve talked here about how I’ve been working on Mark of the Maker: Firebrand as my thesis novel for my MFA. Well…seems that’s going to change. On Monday I start my fourth term of my MFA, and it will be the first term of genre studies. As is quite evident, my genre is speculative fiction. We all know I write in fantasy and horror. I’m not departing from that, but I am departing from Mark of the Maker – for now. I’m up to almost 8,000 words on Mark of the Maker, but I’m not really happy about where the story is going, and I’m not really happy about how the story is going. I still believe 100% in the idea, but I think that right now isn’t the time for it. It’ll have it’s day, but I think that I should move on to something else for now.

To that end, I want to introduce to to what I’m moving on to – the work that I will be using for my thesis novel is a little something that I’ve also been working on for a little while that falls into the form of more traditional European fairy tales. We have fairies, elves, pixies, and all manner of fay creatures; a question of souls; a question of responsibility; and, learning to do the right thing even when it could mean your life. I don’t want to give away too much information about the plot just yet (and yes, I do know the full plot of this tale – I have, for once, written a plot outline), but I have started writing the narrative for this tale and within the first few sections I’m already pretty excited about it. So, without further delay, I offer you…

The Loneborn, I think, is going to be a lot of fun to write, and a lot of fun for the reader, too. I look forward to developing it to its fullest potential, and I can’t wait for you guys to read about it!

So, let’s get to the REAL meat of the post this week. Let’s talk about character. Something that can make or break a story, and something that is one of the most basic elements of storytelling.

For me, there are a few attributes that have to be present to have an effective character. First, the character has to be believable. Even if it’s a character who is so far out of the realm of possibility in appearance or ability, you as the writer has to make a conscious effort to make your reader believe in that character and make that character as real as possible. How do you do that? Well, there are a couple of different avenues to get to believability. First, have those around that character treat him or her as though they aren’t surprised by their appearance or abilities. Adding a bit of normalcy around the extraordinary creates a sense of believability about your character.

The next piece of advice about creating a character that’s effective is to insert them into a world that is equally as believable. Create a place where all your characters can function and live, and your characters instantly become more believable. Does everyone live by the same planetary rules? Does time work the same for everyone? If something out of the ordinary happen, do the people of the world react in the same way? Unless you’re writing a “fish out of water” type story, making everyone and everything fit is absolutely integral to creating believable characters.

Lastly, consistency is vastly important to creating a believable character. Develop your character’s personality, attitude, abilities, and proclivities early and reinforce them often. Don’t allow them to step outside what you’ve established for them unless you plan to make it a regular part of who they are as the narrative progresses. Believe me, this is much harder than it seems at first glance. And yes, it seems boring, but also rest assured that your characters can surprise you. Just the other day, in working on Mark of the Maker, a character that I had envisioned as being a bit meek and mild turned into quite the little outspoken badass. I really quite enjoyed writing her – and I think she might be a little bit of a problem later because she’s not fitting the mold I’d planned for her. It’s okay, though – adjustment is a part of any creation. But…the point is…she now has an established personality that will have to be worked into the narrative.

So – go forth and create! Make those characters believable, consistent, and that fit into their world. I look forward to finding out about all your fantastic characters, and reading about them in your works!

So – for the question this week. Tell me about your mom – and it can be any woman who was or is like a mom to you. In the comments, leave me your best memory of your mom. Have a great week, everyone! Me? I’m starting back to class with term 4 next week!

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