5 Tips for Character Development
As writers we are fascinated with people. Why? Our characters reflect real people. As such, they must act in realistic ways. We can’t have them do things that are “out of character.” We can dig deep inside ourselves and our experiences to create the people who fill our books or we can use other methods. After a while–book two or three, we may find that our own resources–the people we know– may run dry. Here are some tips for learning more about people in order to develop believable characters:
Tip #1: Observe everyone around you
When you see a parent and child interacting in the grocery store, don’t turn away. Lurk, listen and learn. The language the parent uses, the way the child responds are fodder for your characters. Wherever we go, we encounter people. Observe and learn from those observations.
Tip #2: Ask the experts
I am fortunate because I live with a psychiatrist. He carries a wealth of information in his head, and he has access to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). Most of the characters in my books are “normal,” but it’s fun to give them a few quirks. Maybe one is OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Another may be a bit narcissistic. These kinds of flaws give your characters depth and dimension.
Tip #3: Pay attention to the character when they want to do something
Often our subconscious will direct the character’s behavior. When we push against our subconscious, we are imposing what we’d do in a given situation–not what the character might do.
Tip #4: When you get to the editing phase of your book, always ask, “Does this behavior make sense for this character?”
If a character is timid to the point of extreme shyness, would that character speak up in a dangerous situation? Put yourself in the shoes of your characters and see how the action feels.
Tip #5: Let your Beta readers help you
Often we are too close to our work and our characters. Even when we’ve struggled to make our characters believable, as soon as reader says, “I don’t believe Hank would do or say this,” pay attention. These readers are simply reading, absorbing. They are in a different place mentally than we are. Sometimes they can see the most important things that we miss.
When Jenna decides to go to this wedding, she expects to dredge up old secrets and old hurts and she expects to see people from her past, but she doesn’t expect to stumble on a dead body.
Jenna’s friend is arrested. The wedding is cancelled. And Jenna’s tendency to stick her nose where it shouldn’t be leads her into the path of the killer.
Set in the serene mountains of North Carolina Murder on Moonshine Hill is filled with suspense, humor, and a quirky cast of supporting characters.
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On this anything but typical Monday morning Jenna Scali, who works part-time for a shrink, opens an email that depicts the brutal death of a young girl. On that same day the police uncover a dead coed two blocks from Jenna’s house. The e-murderer’s description creepily echos the death described in the newspapers.
When Jenna receives other emails, she takes what she knows to the police and thus begins her journey in the path of the e-murderer. Her curious nature impels her from e-messages to dead coeds to a ring of prostitutes. With the help of her quirky friends, Jenna learns that she’s more than a conduit for the killer. She’s his target. New secrets unfold, and finally her love life takes a tumble when the true killer emerges.
THE E-MURDERER is a race to find a psychotic killer before he kills again.
This new mystery series with a young female sleuth promises to keep you glued to your seat until the last page.
Watch the Book Trailer for e-Murder
Joan is an award-winning writer who has published 6 books and numerous stories. Readers compare her to the great Southern writer, Fanny Flagg. “She writes characters and a story that will stay with you.”
Her debut mystery/suspense novel, The Clock Strikes Midnight, won the silver medal for fiction/suspense in the Global eBook Awards for 2015 and is a finalist for the Royal Palm Literary Award. The e-Murderer won first place in the Malice Domestic Grants competition for new writers.
Joan has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. She reads all kinds of books, including women’s fiction, mysteries, biography, and nonfiction. Mystery/suspense with a psychological twist is exactly the kind of book Joan loves to read.
“I write about characters who remind me of myself at times and my sister at times, but never fully so. My stories are told from a woman’s point of view with a destiny. Characters drive my writing and my reading.”
Having grown up in the South with a mother from Westchester County New York, Joan has a unique take on blending the Southern traditions with the eye of a Northerner. She spent most of her childhood in North Carolina and now resides in Athens, Georgia.
Enter to win a copy of The Clock Strikes Midnight (award-winning book) and a $25 Amazon GC