11 Tips to Creating Heroic Characters #amwriting #writingtips #writingadvice

I’ve been neglecting my blog for longer than I care to admit. Writing and publishing has taken over my life but I’ve missed blogging and connecting with people. So today I decided to share my thoughts on creating characters. I wrote this guest post for another blog last June for the release of The Sentinel’s Reign. Unfortunately, the blog in question is no longer active but I really enjoying writing this and wanted to share it with you.

It’s all about character

Writing characters that touch readers is something I’ve always wanted to achieve. Raised on a diet of David Gemmell and Robin Hobb, authors who create such vivid and heroic characters, how could I aspire for anything less?

When I create characters they stem for a tiny seed of an idea or a scene that just pops into my head. I allow them time to grow naturally while I jot down some scenes. Later I go back to flesh out the details and build upon their history and how it has influenced them. They soon become like people I’ve known my whole life.

Some reviewers have pointed out how my character, Tei, is immature at the beginning and rebels at the situation she’s thrust into. With time and experience, she starts to mature and accept her role. That feels like a natural progression to me. Who would like to wake up in the morning and be told ‘By the way you’re off to save the world today, go pack your bags.’

I like how characters slowly reveal themselves to the reader. You don’t meet people and find out their life story in the first 5 minutes, although I have met a few people who do tell you everything and I wouldn’t want to embark on an adventure with them!

Characters are the lifeblood of any story. I can’t imagine writing anything without starting with a character. However vague and unknown, all I need is a character in a situation and then I’m away writing and the ideas start to flow.

When I think about my books – Visions of Zarua and Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy – the characters are what make the whole process worthwhile. I love them like family and I feel the pain and heartache they suffer. I urge them to find the courage to fight on even if everything is set against them.

I’m drawn to things with strong, heroic characters, be that in books, films or TV series. So with this in mind I thought I would share my tips to creating those kind of characters.

 

11 Tips to Creating Heroic Characters Your Readers Will Love

1. Let the characters find you
I cannot sit and draft out a character from nothing, instead they need to come to me. It starts with a situation, a scene or just a snapshot of the character in my head. I write and develop on that first impression and see who has come to tell me their story.
The Silent Sea Chronicles started with a young woman lost in the forest. With her father dying, she was completely alone until two strangers arrive. From that tiny beginning, a trilogy has grown.

2. Flaws all the way
No one likes a perfect person and if your character is perfect, it’s unrealistic. There is no room to develop and change over the course of the novel. Flaws make the character. Tei is immature and naïve at the beginning of the trilogy, but by the end my readers have commented on how much she has matured.
Both Brogan and Farrell are driven by the need to do what’s right, but that is also their flaw because they have to make difficult decisions that costs lives.

3. Everyone loves an unlikely hero
It is a troop, especially in fantasy, but the fact is if the hero of your story starts out unwilling and is thrust into situations they are not equipped to deal with, they will become better characters for it.
A word of caution though – make it for the right reasons not just to fit the story.

4. Give them backstory
Characters are shaped by their past and it gives them greater depth if the reader can slowly learn about the history of the character before the story takes place. It makes them seem more real, as though they live beyond the pages of the novel.

5. Make them suffer
Everyone in life suffers. The more your characters suffer, the more they can develop. Plus it would be boring to read (and write) about a character that doesn’t have any life changing events happening to them.

6. Allow them to love
Emotions help the reader connect with the character. Whether that is love of family, friends or a love interest. To me that love, and what the character is prepared to risk saving it, defines them and the book you are writing.

7. Allow them to grow
All great heroes need to learn how to become a hero in the first place. Showing that growth will also help the reader connect with the characters.

8. Let them make mistakes – the worse the better!
How else do we learn as human beings? How bad the mistake, how many others are affected, or die because of that mistake is up to you. The darker the outcome, the heavier the burden your character must carry.
Tei feels her decisions have led to people dying and this shapes her decisions and the relationships she forges. Brogan too feels that his decision, or what he perceives as cowardice, lead to catastrophe events.

9. The path to happiness is never easy
Like most people, I like a happy-ending. But I want my characters to battle for their lives to get there.
Often, as with life, that moment is bittersweet. Not everyone can have a happy ever after, it’s just not realistic.

10. Kill off your darling – literally!
My motto whilst writing the Silent Sea Chronicles has become ‘No one is safe!’
It makes the plot less predictable to the reader and hopefully sparks some emotion in them.
If a book makes me cry then I know it’s a good one. I want to evoke that same feeling in my readers. I know the emotional response will be different for every reader, but the Silent Sea Chronicles has made me cry, so if I can’t please everyone, at least I have pleased myself.

11. Villains matter
The villains your heroes are up against can be larger than life evil, as long as they have a motive to act the way they do. And make sure they are a worthy threat, and have a credible backstory too.

A final note about characters.
I have created characters I would want to be friends with, to love or to have as a family member. I even care for my villains, who aren’t all bad deep down.
To make the reader care about your characters, first you, the writer, must care deeply for these wonderful people that inhabit the world you have created. Hopefully your love will shine through in the writing and the readers will form those same bonds and root for your characters too.

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I hope you enjoyed my tips on creating characters and I hope to be back with more tips soon.

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of epic and heroic fantasy

Visions of Zarua   The Lost Sentinel   The Sentinel’s Reign   The Sentinel’s Alliance

You can follow me on

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#Indieauthor April Update #amwriting #amwritingfantasy

Hi Everyone

It’s been a while since I’ve been around. I sort of stuck to my plan of a social media ban, and the best news is that I finished WIP The Sentinel’s Alliance – Book 3 in Silent Sea Chronicles! It’s already had beta reader feedback and I’m now working through some edits. Very soon I will be sharing the cover, pre-order links and the blurb.

I’m aiming to publish 6th July 2019 so the next few months will be busy. It will be worth it to finish the trilogy. I can’t wait to see what you all think. Let me know if you want to go on the list of ARC reviewers.

I also have some big news about Visions of Zarua to share very soon and lots of book reviews to come mainly how-to writing guides but also some brilliant fiction I’ve been reading lately.

I’m still on the look out for reviewers for The Lost Sentinel, The Sentinel’s Reign and Visions of Zarua. If you’re interested please comment or use the Contact Me form. The blurbs and goodreads links etc are in this post An appeal for reviewers.

Lastly, before the publication of Book 3 in the Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy, Rachel’s Random Resources has organised a blog review tour for books 1 and 2 starting 21st June. If you want to join in, I think there a still a couple of spaces available.

I will be back soon with reviews, news and I’ll be setting down some targets for the summer. See you then.

Suzanne Rogerson – Author of heroically epic fantasy

You can follow me on

Twitter  Goodreads  BookBub  Amazon  Facebook

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Writing update and festival news #amwriting #amwritingfantasy

This is a quick update as I know I’ve been absent for most of 2019.

Work is going well on The Sentinel’s Alliance – Book 3 in the Silent Sea Chronicles. I feel as though I am on the home straight and I’m looking forward to passing the book to my beta readers very soon. I hope to stick to a publication date of the end of June, but I won’t rush it if it’s not ready. I’ve also been sitting on the beautiful book cover for months. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you but I made a promise to myself that I’d wait for the completed draft. Fingers crossed that’s not too long now!

Festival news

Next week I will be going to the London Book Fair for the first time ever. I’m going as a self published author looking to pick up tips but also a hybrid author. This is the first time I’ve really acknowledged the fact that I’m now a hybrid! My Czech publisher will be at the fair and I’m hoping to pop by and say hello.

From the sounds of things I will be spending a lot of time in the Author HQ area where lots of talks sound interesting and relevant to my current situation. I’m hoping to meet the team of the Writing Magazine whose advice I have been using since my late teens. I also just want to soak up the atmosphere of a place dedicated to all things books! Plus my friend mentioned a stationery area – now that will be dangerous!

 

Another first for me is that I finally have the chance to go to the Winchester Writer’s Festival in June. I’ve secured the three agent / publisher appointments I was hoping for and will attend a whole day workshop based on writing fantasy. I’m super excited but also nervous about the pitching as this will be a chance to move my dreams of being a hybrid author in the UK one step closer.

I’m already planning my letter and first chapter, but the idea of pitching something new is terrifying after working on a trilogy for a good few years.

 

I look forward to sharing  my experiences of these festivals with you in the future.

 

Over to you

Are any of you going to either of these major UK events?

Do you have any advice to make the most of the days ahead?

Have you got any writing festivals to recommend?

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Tomorrow I hope to share a book review of a 5 star book I just finished last night. After I wiped away my tears, I closed the book and thought to myself that was bloody brilliant! Stop by tomorrow to find out what book I’m talking about…

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Suzanne Rogerson – Author of heroically epic fantasy

You can follow me on

Twitter  Goodreads  BookBub  Amazon  Facebook

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Writing Plans for 2019 #amwriting

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I have lots of plans for 2019  but the biggest and most important has to be completing the Silence Sea Chronicles trilogy and publishing book 3!

For the next few months I will focus purely on this trilogy, which will consist of:

  • Reading and making notes on The Lost Sentinel – book 1
  • Reading and making notes on The Sentinel’s Reign – book 2
  • Reading the draft of The Sentinel’s Alliance – book 3
  • Completing the draft of book 3 as per my outline and notes.
  • When the draft is completed and ready for my beta readers I want to focus on the map of the Silent Sea. At some point I plan to commission someone to produce a map but I’ve decided it’s more important to finish the books first.

Any advice you can give about map making would be gratefully received!

  • Once the book is edited etc, there will be all the usual jobs involved in publishing a new book.

 

Future writing plans in 2019

I like to set out some of my goals for the year, even though I know I probably won’t have time for everything. It feels good to have a record and I love to tick things off a list!

  • Write the prequel to Silent Sea Chronicles
  • Release all four books in the Silence Sea Chronicles as a box set
  • Republish all my paperbacks with ISBN’s and through a publisher Waterstones recognises.
  • Approach indie bookshops as well.
  • Keep trying to get my books into the libraries.
  • Read ‘Writing Short Stories to promote your novel’ by Rayne Hall and action what I learn.
  • Re-read the 72k partly written novel I am desperate to finish and actually finish it!
  • Outline and draft the novella prequel to the above novel using the techniques I’ve learnt from Couch to 50k and Take off your pants – See below.

 

Other writing related plans

Reviews

  • Review Couch to 50K by Rachel Tonks Hill once I have used the technique and discuss if it helped my writing.

couch to 50k

  • Review Take off your pants by Libbie Hawker once I’ve used the outlining techniques for some novel ideas. (By the way I chose this as my favourite writer’s guide of 2018 in this post.)

take off your pants

  • Review ‘Writing Short Stories to promote your novels’ by Rayne Hall, as previously mentioned.

writing short stories

 

Embrace my self publishing journey by

  • Contacting more reviewers
  • Organising a blog tour for the release of book 3
  • Buy KDP Rocket and use it to help with my book categories, keywords, ads etc.
  • Work on getting audiobooks produced for all my books.
  • Create a landing page on my website
  • Decide if I’m ready to set up a mailing list / newsletter
  • Go to writing events including Winchester and Gollancz scifi / fantasy.

 

Non writing plans for 2019

  • Find a way to get more sleep.
  • Fit in some exercise as often as possible.
  • Get out with the family more.
  • Read what I feel like reading without pressure as per my reading goals posted here.
  • Fall in love with my garden again
  • Be more adventurous cooking

 

That’s about all I can think of for now. I like to review my goals every quarter or mid-year, so it will be interesting to see how far I get with this list. As I stated at the start, the most important thing is working on book 3. Anything else will be a bonus!

Happy new year to you all and good  luck with your own goals whatever they might be.

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You can follow me on

Twitter  Goodreads  BookBub  Amazon  Facebook

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2018 Wrap up – My writing year in review #amwriting

2018 has been a major year for me and it’s been good to look back over the highlights and have the opportunity to share them with you.

The year started off with a huge bang when I was approached by Albatros Media, a major publish in the Czech Republic. They are publishing a Czech translation of my debut novel, Visions of Zarua in the fall this year. 2018 saw one of my dreams come true and I earned (and spent) my first ever advance! I hope to be able to share a cover reveal with you very soon, I think the czech cover is perfect.

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I received my first full MS request from an agent. This was a huge high point, though I’m very sad to say that I haven’t heard back from her since.

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I published book 2 in the Silent Sea Chronicles – The Sentinel’s Reign at the end of June 2018 and it’s been seeing quite a lot of action on Kindle Unlimited, but unfortunately reviews are very slow to follow.

The Sentinel's Reign book cover

Please check the blurb and reviews on Goodreads and feel free to get in touch if you would like a copy to review.

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In November I celebrated the 3rd birthday of Visions of Zarua with a birthday blitz hosted by 25 blogs and organised by Rachel’s Random Resources. It was a great day and I highly recommend Rachel’s services. I received 10 new reviews and had so much fun answering questions, writing guest posts and sharing extracts. Click here if you want to see the tour hosts involved and for Rachel’s info. I also posted about the day here part 1 and part 2.

VOZ blitz

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I went to the Gollancz Writers’ Day. It hasn’t led to any breakthroughs with agents or traditional publishers, but it was a lot of fun going to an event centred around my genre. I spoke to other writers, bestselling authors, editors at Gollancz and a top agent. I feel more confident about attending days like this in the future. Here’s my review of the day.

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I dusted off some of my favourite short stories, had them edited and beta read and then entered some competitions. So far, nothing has come from it but I have been inspired to produce my own short story anthology at some point in the future.

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On a non-writing related topic, I lost 2 stone with Slimming World and feel so much happier about myself. I’ve tried dieting on and off for years, but it was only joining a group that really helped me reach my target weight and keep to it. I recommend it if losing weight is one of your new year’s resolutions.

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In conclusion 2018 was a slow writing year, but I plan to change that in 2019. I hope to share the new technique I’m hoping will increase my output once I’ve tested it fully.

Join me next time where I will post about my plans for reading, writing and life in general for 2019. See you then.

#WWWBlogs Update and Goals for Autumn 2018 #amwriting #selfpubtips

I have been very quiet on the social media front these past few months, hoping to work hard on my draft of The Sentinel’s Alliance. That has not gone to plan but I have been doing lots of other exciting things and thought I would share them with you. Maybe you can pick up some tips for things you can be doing with your self published books.

Note – This whole situation came about because of Rebecca Howie’s post on The Backdoor to Bookstores. As you can guess it’s about getting your books into the bookshops, something I had thought impossible and didn’t bother researching. Her post has led me to;

  • Register all my books with Nielsen via a simple emailed form. This means my books can now be found on the website of most bookshops like Waterstones.
  • Ask my local Waterstones branch about stocking my books. I am waiting to hear from the relevant department.
  • Contact my local library. Again I am waiting to hear from the relevant department but the librarian was hopeful it would be accepted. If not I still have the option of donating copies for them to lend.
  • I already had a PLR account but my books weren’t on file. As I’ve now registered the books with Nielsen I can apply for my books to be added to my account. Again I am waiting for them to be processed.
  • Today I am posting a physical copy of each of my books to The British Library. Once deposited, there will always be a copy and a record of my work, though they did warn me the backlog was 3 or 4 months.

 

My next steps

  • Contact local indie books stores – I already have a list to work through.
  • Print some leaflets with LOCAL AUTHOR and hand them out around my local towns.
  • Look into book festivals for 2019 with a mind to having a book stall.
  • Look into having an audiobook produced for Visions of Zarua through ACX. I can go with the 50/50 split with a producer and pay nothing up front so there is nothing to lose. My main concern is the voice – I have 4 VP characters 3 of which are male. I think I will have to request a male narrator, though I’m not keen on men doing female voices and vs versa. Varnia is such a strong character, I would hate for her to lose that edge in an audio version.

 

Other news

I have just switched my paperback books from Createspace to KDP. It was a very simple process and took just a few minutes with the automated programme KDP have developed. Rather than try to explain it myself, I read a great post about it yesterday on Nicolas C Rossis’ blog.

 

Now onto my writing challenges for Autumn 2018

  • Finish my draft of book 3 asap, though I’m still coming to grips with the mess I made of it during Nanowrimo last year!
  • I want to try to plan the Prequel of Silent Sea Chronicles whilst writing book 3, ready to start work on it in 2019.
  • Write the draft of a new novella during Nanowrimo. I want to aim for a word count of 30-40k.
  • Enter at least 5 short story competitions. I have 5 stories edited, critiqued and ready to go and I think I have picked some good competitions to try.
  • Enter a few first chapter competitions.
  • Look for Self Pub novel competitions to enter that don’t cost loads of money
  • Work on new short story ideas for a possible anthology in 2019. I’ve already seen a couple of covers that I would love, but I can’t jump ahead that much, can I?

 

Other things I need to focus on in 2018

  • Promos for all books, including working on my AMS ads which I’ve heard is now changing anyway.
  • Contact reviewers – look for new opportunities and contact previous reviewers. It’s been a difficult summer for many reviewers so I’m hoping to reconnect with some of them during autumn/winter.
  • Write up my book reviews and post weekly. I like to do this on a Tuesday with the #tuesdaybookblog tag set up by Rosie Amber.
  • Study writing fiction for YA and decide if I want to head in that direct at some point. Some readers already class my Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy as YA so I’m interested to see why and if I should be targeting that market.
  • Finish my Goodreads reading challenge, which I am just about on target for.
  • A future goal I want to think about for 2019 is setting up an author newsletter. I know I should, but it’s one of those jobs I’ve been putting off.

 

It feels good to write down my achievements and my goals. I shall print off this list and pin it to the wall by my desk for inspiration and to keep me on track.

This list will easily take me to the end of the year. I just need to focus and stop getting distracted. I did find this post from Ari really helpful about her own September 2018 goals and working towards them each week. She shares lots of great advice and her site is well worth a visit.

Lastly, if you are looking for motivation you really should read this book – Overwhelmed Writer Rescue by Colleen Story. I reviewed it last year and it is packed with advice. I must revisit my copy.

I hope I have given you some ideas and if you have any tips to share or other routes I can follow as an indie author, please comment. I feel as though I’ve been out of the blogging loop for ages, so I’d love to reconnect with people.

 

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A blogging break #amwriting instead

Hi everyone. This is just a quick note to say that I am taking a short break from blogging and social media. I feel it’s time to focus all my attention on The Sentinel’s Alliance – book 3 in the Silent Sea Chronicles. I need space away from technology and want to fill my time instead with pen, paper and lots of inspiration. Soon I’m off to Shakespeare country and hope to pick up some of the bard’s vibes.

I will still be popping up on other people’s blogs from time to time and, though I am trying to ban myself from looking at the computer as much as possible I will still reply to all messages, review requests and comments so please keep in touch.

Enjoy the rest of your summer.

See you some time in September!