Creating a Memorable Character
Often students and readers ask me how I come up with my characters. This is a difficult question to answer because my characters come to me. Sometimes I have a vague idea of who the person is, but the more the character interacts on the page, the better I understand her or him.
In Succubus: Shadows of the Beast, a new character shows up later in the book. He’s a mountain of a man and a seasoned vampire hunter. He was not planned. Wollinsky simply shows up, knocks on the door, and BAM! I get the first peek. Bit by bit, this vampire hunter is revealed to the other characters and to me. He shares some of his backstory about vampires that he’s killed in other countries. By the end of the novel, I realize that not only has this character made his place in the book, but also he’s destined to have a book written about him and the vampires he’s slayed around the world. He intrigues me that much, so yes, he will have a novel sometime in the future.
But what makes a great character?
A reader needs to develop empathy for characters. One must feel a connection that makes you want to know more about them. If we cannot identify with a character, we ultimately won’t care what happens to him/her. When that happens, readers stop reading.
If you’re a novice writer, here’s something you might consider. Interview your character. See what makes her tick. What does she like or dislike? Her favorite foods? Write out a detailed character sheet that describes hair color, eye color, scars, dimples, height, weight, etc. You need a good visualization of her in order to paint her on the page for the reader to see.
When your character does something, why did she do it? Ask her. Sounds strange, but you need to know the reasons for her actions. Did she react that way because of something in her past? What were her relationships with her parents, teachers, and siblings like? Often, knowing these things about her background and history helps the writer relate to the character and her surroundings. The worst thing a writer can do is having a character act outside of her true nature. Readers catch that quickly, so make her and her actions believable.
People can argue the many factors into what makes a great story, but I’ve learned over the years that strong believable characters are the backbone of what drives the plot forward. No one likes cookie-cutter characters. 2-D characters are dead on the page. Flesh them out. Let the reader see the characters and relate to them. Then, you have a story worth reading.
Thanks for allowing me to guest blog. For readers who might be interested in other books I’ve written under a different name, please “Like” my FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/TW-Mordrake/741088412677706 . Send me a PM and I’ll reveal my secret. ;)
Succubus: Shadows of the Beast
Genre: Paranormal and Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Nocturnal Trinity
Date of Publication: May 16th, 2015
Number of pages: 475 pages
Word Count: 138,000 words
Cover Artist: Ravenborn
Entering the real world after college often educates one to the true horrors of the harsh obstacles life has to offer. For Kailey Yates the discoveries are far more terrifying and dangerous. Two days before she graduated with a degree in investigative journalism, her brother Vincent is found dead in his swimming pool with a syringe stuck in his arm. His death is ruled as a suicide, but Kailey doesn't buy it.
She suspects Vincent's new wife Cassie is the one who actually killed him. Her suspicions are drawn from his rapid health deterioration during his short six month marriage. During one of her last Skype conversations she had with Vincent, Kailey's roommate Raven witnesses their conversation and immediately senses that Vincent is being soul-drained by a succubus. Since Raven is a witch, Kailey has no doubt about her friend's perception and concludes that Cassie must be the demon responsible.
Kailey leaves Boston and flies to Seattle for her brother's funeral. While there she investigates the circumstance surrounding his death. She uncovers dark information that leads her to Nocturnal Trinity, a nightclub in the heart of Seattle. And worse, the underground club is run by a powerful alliance of vampires, demons, and witches that wish to protect Cassie at all costs, which includes killing Kailey or anyone else if necessary.
Warning: Adults 18+ due to adult theme/scene.
Available at Amazon
Excerpt: Chapter One
Kailey Yates knew that her brother Vincent would never have killed himself had it not been for his new wife, Cassie. And yet, Kailey stood at Vincent’s graveside while the workers prepared to lower her brother’s casket into the cold ground, his final resting place.
The gray overcast Seattle sky with its chilly swirling mists set the mood for the burial and the gloom that also possessed her broken heart. The towering leafless oaks in the cemetery were sinister skeletons forewarning that the dangerous kiss of winter’s death would soon settle over them, harsher than ever before.
One never escaped death, but sometimes death came too early with an unfairness that made Kailey want to scream at the heavens from her inner rage and loss. After all, her brother had been a successful attorney in his early thirties and destined to become the first in their family that had graduated from college to live a prosperous lifestyle. He was never a man who entertained suicidal thoughts.
The workers and his ritzy friends from the Langston Law Firm had come out in great number. She estimated no less than one hundred people had arrived. Never had she seen so many expensive suits and vehicles. Coming from a modest middleclass family, she never imagined she or her brother would rub elbows with the upper class of society, but he had been adamant that they would be wealthy and worked painstakingly to get them there.
While the priest gave the eulogy, the men and women stood stoically silent, their eyes staring at Vincent’s casket. The priest finished speaking and led the audience in a proper prayer, praying that Vincent’s soul found forgiveness and mercy for leaving this world by suicide.
How fitting, Kailey thought, wringing her hands. Blame the innocent for what the murderer did.
While the others respectfully closed their eyes, she gazed around, trying to see Cassie, but the two men standing in front of her sister-in-law blocked Kailey’s view. Moments after the priest finished his lengthy ill-placed prayer, the wealthy people mingled to hug, shake hands, and chat.
The slight breeze swirled Kailey’s long reddish-brown curls, forcing her to pull her hair back and letting it fall onto her back and shoulders. Her jaw suddenly tightened, hiding the wrinkles that deepened into cute dimples whenever she smiled. Her hazel eyes suddenly blazed with anger and vengeance.
Across the grave Cassie stood dressed in a form-fitting black skirt that accentuated her perfect curves and perhaps distastefully revealed more leg than what was suitable at a funeral for one’s husband. Her tight long-sleeved jacket cut off at her midriff, revealing her well-defined abs. She wore black-netted hose and velvety black high heels. Hell, streetwalkers wore more clothes in this cold weather.
Cassie hid her pale face behind a white handkerchief and sobbed. Kailey understood how a man might be immediately drawn to Cassie’s exquisite beauty. Her slender oval face with high cheekbones gave her a regal presence even at this dismal funeral. She carried herself with the utmost grace, in spite of her poor choice of attire, but she also had a seductively dark energy radiating from her.
When Cassie’s dark eyes met Kailey’s, Cassie lowered her hands and meekly folded the handkerchief. Her tearless eyes weren’t even slightly tinged red. A bit of amusement curled Cassie’s pouty lips. An odd flicker of recognition blazed in her eyes and hinted slight detestation, even though they had never met in person. Kailey felt the resentment and didn’t understand why, unless Cassie had somehow figured out that Kailey suspected her of murdering Vincent, which Kailey did. Perhaps Cassie read it in her eyes. Or worse, perhaps this she-devil could read Kailey’s thoughts.
Moments later, Cassie broke their connection and returned to her fake sobs, wiping at her eyes with the cloth in a way that demanded pity from the solemn onlookers.
One of Vincent’s former attorney friends wore a gray pinstriped suit and overcoat. He approached Cassie to console her. He was trim with brown hair, a firm jaw, and offered a tender smile as he spoke to the widow. She buried her face against the man’s chest. Obviously surprised by her approach, he gently patted her back from an awkward distance, but Cassie aggressively wrapped her arms around him. To lessen his discomfort in the situation, he finally leaned in closer and embraced her.
She nuzzled against his chest, reached beneath his jacket, and clung to him. Her body shook with what people nearby might consider being violent heaving sobs. He rested his chin atop her head and whispered. His hands gently rubbed her back, and she seemed to calm at his touch and gentle words. She stopped sobbing and became less broken.
Don’t you see that those tears aren’t real? A slight breeze rustled Kailey’s long flowing brown hair. Instead of remorse for her brother’s death, she felt a growing resentment toward his widow. A bitter taste came to the back of her throat, and she fought the rising gag reflex from seeing this woman’s blatant slutty behavior and utter disrespect for her husband. What did Vincent ever see in you?
Kailey also battled the growing urge to march across the cemetery and rattle the woman with several jabs to Cassie’s face and swift punches to her stomach.
Another place. Another time.
Kailey’s sister-in-law, even now, wore little makeup. Her lipstick was a bright red hue, which made her pale reflection appear even lighter. Her raven hair was neatly styled with silver pins and sprigs of Lady’s Breath. Her pretend tears had not smudged the dark mascara around her eyes, and with her ashen complexion she resembled a corpse better than her brother probably had at his viewing. To others, even the hundred or more attending the funeral, she appeared stately, reserved, and the perfect widow.
Well played, Kailey thought. You’ve fooled them, but not me.
Cassie was a cold parasite that had preyed upon Vincent, seduced him into marrying her, and then taken his life to possess his wealth and million-dollar estate. Kailey couldn’t act on her suspicions alone. She needed proof. The coroner had ruled her brother’s death as a suicide, but she believed it was not. Relevant details had never been disclosed to her, and she wanted answers.
Vincent had been murdered. Cassie had killed him, made it look like a suicide, and Kailey was determined to prove it.
T.W. Mordrake writes Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, and Fantasy. A lover of all things mystical, T.W. explores the strange, unusual, and haunted places in the U.S., which lends to the underlying charm for writing about the paranormal creatures that lurk in the dark shadows of night.