Sunday, 27 January 2013

A Guide To Writing Romance - Part Three

When I’m writing a novel, a character will often spring fully formed into my mind – and then onto the page. I will see this character in my mind’s eye, and know her voice, how she looks, her sense of humour, and all manner of other small details. My heroine, Alexandra, from my first novel, The Dashing Debutante, was just such a character. She showed up fully formed and I knew what she would say, how she would say it, and what made her laugh without having to learn these details before setting pen to paper.

However, at other times, I have to get to know a character before I can write about him or her, and this can take a lot more effort. Read on to find out how to create strong characters from the third extract from All About Writing's “The Guide To Writing Romance” online course:

Third Secret: Create strong characters.

Romantic stories are character-based. We need to identify with them if we are to care what happens to them.

 Let them have depth, and some quirks and contradictions. People aren’t one-dimensional, nor are they stereotypes. Neither should your characters be.

Before you begin writing, you will need to understand your characters inside and out. You should never have to wonder idly how your heroine will react when her best friend tells her she’s pregnant, for instance. You should know instantly and almost instinctively how she’ll feel – and how much of this she will communicate.

Look at some of the things that could form a character in a novel, and the influences that have helped frame who they are.

Much of this detail might never make it into your story, or if it does, only as a mention or perhaps a memory, but it will help you understand your character and their responses to every situation.


Think about your own life and identify five critical experiences that you feel helped make you who you are. Some of these will be negative, some positive.
Draw a line across the middle of a page in your notebook.
Imagine that this is the time-line that runs through your life. The start of the line is your birth, and the end is where you find yourself now. The line itself is perfect equilibrium. Now plot the five experiences you’ve identified, above the line if they’re positive experiences, below if they’re negative.
How do you think these experiences have affected you? How do they influence your responses to certain situations and people?

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