Producing a dynamic character that readers will love
By Krystal Milton
Often times I have read books where I found I could not connect with the main character, as I am sure the author had expected me to do. As an avid reader and reviewer I find it very disconcerting when this happens, and the main reason is I feel the author themselves hasn’t connected or developed the character with enough depth to hook their captive audience.
A character, whether they are minimal in purpose or the main forefront spokesman of the book, has to have dimension and a definitive characteristic that sets them apart. For Instance, Harry Potter, the leading character in the series developed by J. K Rowling, has a lightening shaped scar, messy hair and a very unique humility to his persona all the while being that rebellious young man that her readers grew to love and know. He had a defined dimension to him that changed little as he grew older and wiser throughout the series, but ultimately stayed the same in the depictions of him.
Alex Cross, from the James Patterson novels, always had a formula he followed when going through his adventures. He would follow leads, chase suspects, get into a fight, get bruised up, catch the culprit and go home at the end of it all to his three children and grandmother. He had a very calm and calculating personality; he loved his family and work, often struggling with the two. And He always found time to wind down and clear his head by playing the piano on his porch. Let’s not forget he is described as looking like a younger version of Muhammad Ali.
This is the type of dimension every character needs. They need a certain way of speaking in order to distinguish them, a certain flare of attitude or visually stimulating appearance such as a scar or mark that will brandish itself into the readers mind so that they are unforgettable. They need to have a routine, which is an unspoken necessity in order to keep them front and center in the readers mind.
And they need to be as real to the Author as they are to the reader. I have found so many times, that when writing, if the character doesn’t stick out to me, they are just a name and cannot be anything more than that. Because if they aren’t that important to me, they wont be for my audience.
In order to develop a character the first thing I do is picture them in my mind. I may sketch them to give them a more real presence or even write out a little biography about their past and present state, map out a family and trait list. I try to give each character, even the miniscule ones, a sense of being alive so that as I write them into the book their words and personalities will flow and click into place within the storyline.
For instance in Sins of the Father Annalynn McKae is a very quiet simple girl who; works a part time job, goes to Georgetown University, and helps occasionally with her sick mother. These were just the basics of her background when I began to plot out the storyline. This in the artist’s world would be a baseline sketch, the light traces of pencil on paper to give an outline of the form being drawn.
As I developed Annalynn more, I added the daddy’s girl who thought the world of her father and his dedication to her and her mother, the girl who put little to no value in possessions, who rarely cursed, never had a boyfriend and hardly any friends except her first cousin Constance who she confided her most deepest secrets, not that there were many. This would be the second layer of defining the sketch, where details like the outlines of eyes, nose and mouth would be drawn if the artist were creating a person. If it were an object or landscape the trees and shrubbery would begin to take shape.
The main structure of creating Annalynn was not only giving her a baseline to begin with like her personality traits, zodiac sign, favorite color or clothing, it was also depicting the changes in her moods as she was faced with difficult situations.
In Sins of the Father, we follow Annalynn as this sweet homely daddy’s girl finds out her father may be a serial killer, that he may very well have been lying to both her and her mother their entire life. That the man who sheltered her, fed her, loved her, was an absolute fraud. The complexity of the changes that we see in Annalynn as she, a budding young adult, finds herself in a whirlpool of emotion that conflicts within herself as well as outside.
She is not only faced with the realization that she alone must care for her sick mother, but handle the burden of her fathers guilt as his victim’s families begin to take their rage and angst on the only person within easy reach…Annalynn.
There is a formula I follow in order to achieve the dynamic character that readers will latch onto. It is a formula I have seen so many best selling authors use, and it can never lead a writer astray. Readers love a martyr. But not just any martyr, they cant be depressive all the time, but have to have a quirky yet sassy, soft with yet a measure of strength and also have a touch of humbleness and humility. In essence the character must be able to go through troubles with tears in their eyes but determination in their heart. No one likes an easy quitter. And they don’t like for the good man to be down all the time. There has to be an even balance of good and bad in order to capture and keep the attention of the reader.
And once you have a baseline, you can develop your characters to suit any situation thrown at them, because you will have plotted out exactly how they will react ahead of time. You can never go wrong with a highly developed cast of characters that can lead your story to greatness.
About the Author:
Krystal Milton is a self-published author living in New York with her two children. She has been an avid reader and writer since her teenage years, but recently self published her debut novel Deception in June of 2012. Since then she has published four other titles including; Charge that to the Game, Field Advantage, Blitz, and Say a little Prayer.
When she isn’t reading or spending time with her children, she writes on her blog DWED- Defining Women’s Evolution in Discovery Blog and works on creating new Characters, situations and circumstances for her readers to enjoy.
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Sins of the Father:
Genre- Fiction, Women’s Fiction, suspense
Sins of the Father a riveting story of struggle, courage and self discovery as Annalynn McKae desperately seeks the truth about her father as he stands accused of being a ruthless and sadistic serial killer that has been on the loose for twenty-six years.
Annalynn McKae has never experienced much tragedy in life except the illness of her mother who has been plagued with Rheumatoid Arthritis since she was eleven. The disease has left her mother’s body stone like, leaving the care of both mother and daughter on Alexander Mckae her adoring father. It was because of his unwavering dedication to their family that she couldn’t believe, wouldn’t believe the horrible reality of what her father really is when he is accused of being the notorious Potomac Creek serial killer.
Sins of the Father is a fiction novel about a young woman discovering life and its faculties, but also the suspense filled journey of powering through struggles no matter what they may be and gaining a vast perspective of how ones ties to family can be their ultimate demise.
To follow Krystal Milton on her Blog Tour for Sins of the Father, go to her website where a complete can be found for your convenience.
There hasn’t been a time I can remember where she wasn’t sick or in pain. As she grew older, her body seemed to take on the shape of a penguin, her back arched, knees bent, and her hands flopped over at the wrists angled towards the floor. Father had to be my rock, since mother couldn’t tend to me the way she used to; her body no longer allowing her to hold or caress me.
I remember the days when she used to cry, her eyes begging me to understand how much she longed to touch me, to place her hand on my face to feel its texture, to smooth her fingers through my hair to braid it.
She couldn’t help me with prom, couldn’t even hold a camera to take a picture. Mother couldn’t even dress herself, the task daunting as her fingers barely moved anymore.
Her arms were frail but littered with little lumps from the nodules underneath her skin. She barely talked or went out into the sun due to the inflammation of her glands in eyes and mouth.
Most often she ate through a straw and even when that became too much, was given an IV drip to keep her fluids up. Father or I applied her eye drops thrice a day to ease the dryness in her eyes.
As I opened the fridge taking out a pack of chicken cutlets, I thought of how important my father has been for both of us. He has attended every ballet recital, spelling bee, soccer event, tennis tournament, acceptance speech, graduation…any monumental element in my life, since mother could not.
And on top of all the excruciating childhood memorials, he still made time to work sixty hours a week, and attend every wellness care, chiropractic and therapeutic doctors visit with mother.
He still made time to help with her daily routine. When the part time nurse we hired needed to leave early or take an extra day off, father would be there to take over. He never let me miss a class, seeing my friends, or school event to care for mother.
It was the guilt that kept me home instead of going to UCLA in California like I wanted. It was the thought of not giving back to the people who cared for me so deeply that kept me home, attending the local Georgetown University so that I could help.
I got a part time job at Stella’s boutique between Wisconsin Ave and M Street, father’s position in the bank being influential in getting the job.
I was able to have lunch with him sometimes since our jobs were so close, attend my classes, complete the household chores, hang out, work, and be there for my parents. It’s the least I could do, since father gave his life basically, for my mother and me.
It was because of this dedication to our life and family, that when the pounding on the door interrupted my meal preparation, when the police stormed in with big bold letters SWAT on their back, helmets on their heads, guns in their arms pointing here, there, everywhere, that the reality of who and what my father really was didn’t seem plausible.
I denied everything they said. All the accusations were wrong. My father was a sweet, humble, hard working, brilliant, loving husband and father. My father was not a rapist, neither was he a narcissist. He definitely wasn’t a killer, their killer…The Potomac Creek Killer.
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