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 Unfortunately, the blog in question is no longer active but I really enjoying writing this and wanted to share it with you.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

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#Tuesdaybookblog mini #bookreviews of my favourite #fantasy books in Rainne’s Five on Friday feature

During my blogging break I shared some mini book reviews of my favourite fantasy books over on Rainne’s Rambles. Please pop over to take a look at the Five on Friday feature and see what books inspired my love of all thing fantasy.

Rainne's Ramblings

5onFriday

Five Books – Five Authors – One Reviewer

Looking for a new fantasy to read this weekend?
Try one of these books, reviewed by Suzanne Rogerson


I finally have space to bring back my Five on Friday feature and I’m kicking off with a guest reviewer:

Suzanne Rogerson is a self-published author of epic and heroic fantasy, who loves reading books almost as much as she love writing them.

“When Rainne asked if I would like to take part in her Five on Friday, I was excited to have a go and share some book love. But after many false starts, I just couldn’t work out which books to showcase. It’s so difficult to pick just five. In the end, I’ve opted for five fantasy books I’ve loved but never reviewed on my blog. Here they are…”

Title: Dream-weaver
Author: Jonathan Wylie

2030986As civil war threatens the land of Ahrenia…

View original post 1,578 more words

#AtoZChallenge Q – Quality #photos from West Midlands Safari Park

Q is a tough letter in the A-Z Blog Challenge. I’m sure lots of other people have struggled too.

I’ve cheated by falling back on my second love next to writing – Photography. I’m really grateful my blog has given me the opportunity to share these photos rather than having them sitting on my hard drive never to be seen.

I choose to focus on Quality Close ups from West Midlands Safari Park. We’ve visited here almost every year for the last 12 years. I’ve filled memory cards with shots and it’s been quite a task to choose my favourite. Some are not the best Quality, but they are Quirky (managed to get in a 2nd Q!)

Here goes…

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I’ve lost the will to go to West Mid since they got rid of their wolves. I blame Robin Hobb for my wolf obsession, ah Nighteyes… if you’ve read the Farseer books you’ll understand.

Also check out my post on my favourite writing retreat with wolves, if you’re as mad on them as I am!

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Giraffe would like the last word…

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Hope you’ve enjoyed the pictures.

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Tomorrow – R for reviewers

Check out other A-Z posts here

 

Did you guess the object? And my perfect writing holiday.

The object in the photograph below (which I posted it in response to Hughes weekly photo challenge week 12 – games) was of course a footprint, a cast of a wolf footprint to be exact.

WP_20160207_20_50_14_Pro  Thank you, Hugh for picking my picture to showcase on your weekly blog challenge.

It is not as exciting as a fossilised footprint (being only 12+ years old), but it is very special to me and reminds me of one of the most magical and memorable experiences of my life.

I stayed on holiday for a week at Wolf Watch UK, actually within a wolf reserve in Shropshire, England. It’s a brilliant organisation and for me it was a once in a lifetime holiday. Please check out their website Wolf Watch UK to see how gorgeous the place is and the important work they do. I don’t know if they still run holidays, but there are plenty of opportunities to visit the wolves on things like photography days.

(The pictures in this post are not the greatest quality as they are only photos of photos, it was way before my days of digital photography.)

I loved that whole experience. Hearing the majestic and haunting sound of the wolves howling in the evening and early morning – I couldn’t think of a better alarm clock. I would spring out of bed at the first howl (not that easy when you’re 5 months pregnant!) and record their howling on my little palm top computer. I have a sound file that I wanted to share, but the .wav format is not accepted by wordpress. If anyone can tell me how to convert and add sound files I would love to update this post. As it is you’ll have to put up with a rather poor quality image of one of the wolves mid-howl or yawning its hard to tell.

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Back in 2004 there was no TV reception in this beautiful Shropshire wooded valley so it made the perfect writing retreat. I started planning and writing scene for one of my works in progress called Child of Destiny. I hope to finally finish the draft in 2016.

My husband wasn’t that happy without a TV. And he certainly wasn’t keen on the wolf feeding experience.

tony and the wolf

I loved my time in the wolf enclosure. Even though I was 5 months pregnant with my first child, I wasn’t going to let that stop me getting up close with these lovely creatures. I think you’ll agree I look a lot happier about it than my husband.

me and the wolf

I’ve always been an animal lover, but my obsession with wolves started when I read Robin Hobbs Farseer trilogy. Nighteyes was, and still is, one of my favourite all time fictional characters. I’d love to have met him.

This holiday will always have a special place in my heart and it’s brought back lots of memories writing about it now. I would love to revisit Wolf Watch UK, but I have a few years to go before my youngest is 16 (age limit imposed for safety reasons).

If you ever get the chance, go along and meet the wolves. The experience will stay with you forever.

I’m taking a few days off social media to finish the edit of my next book. Please do leave comments though, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.