I am so thrilled to have USA Today’s bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken as a guest today!!! Rachel has masterfully structured stories that peel at your very emotions you will cry, laugh and sometimes yell reading her titles such as Waltzing With the Wallflower, The Redemption of Lord Rawlings, The Seduction of Sebastian St. James, Every Girl Does It, An Unlikely Alliance, Compromising Kessen and The Parting Gift. Rachel’s characters are so well developed and touch the very heart. So I was more than happy when she decided to post on Character development.
I think every writer struggles with character development. Perhaps your hero is quite easy for you to develop but your heroine isn’t coming along as easily. I think there’s always going to be one character that makes you stop and want to pound your head against the keyboard.
I was told once that the easiest way to get inside your characters head without losing your mind is to imagine yourself as that character. Sounds easy enough when you’re writing from the woman’s point of view, but quite honestly that’s the point of view I struggle with. It’s hard for any writer not to project their own feelings or emotions into a character and as a woman I find that I struggle with that very issue.
Now writing a man….this is what I love, much to my husband’s dismay. I often write about the rake, the man who is dejected by society, or who doesn’t give a wit about what society thinks of him.
My male characters always start off with a conversation. Most of the time I’m driving or sometimes sleeping (UGH) and a conversation with my hero will pop into my head and usually that conversation is the basis for my development for that character.
When I wrote The Redemption of Lord Rawlings, I still wasn’t sure how I wanted the character to be flushed out. In all of the other books in that series he was a secondary character so you were never truly in his head. When I wrote his book I had to make him a likable hero even though he wasn’t necessarily the good guy to start off with. His book started with him stomping through the rain. I clearly remember thinking how dreary it would be in London. How awful it must be for a man after he’s lost everything. He literally thought nothing could make him feel better so he might as well stomp around and lament over how things had gone so horribly wrong.
Another one of my contemporary romances began when I was thinking about how much people in London loved tea. It progressed from there, an argument about tea and coffee and my character Kessen Newberry was born! I then imagined what it would be like to be from the UK but raised in America and forced to go back to your roots to appease your parents. Her development was fast because she had a loss in her family.
No matter how you start with your characters it’s always important to throw obstacles in their way. They have to grow and they have to overcome something otherwise they will fall flat. To be honest, sometimes I feel bad about what I put them through. I mean I’m poisoning them, taking the one person they love away from them, allowing them to get killed…:) BUT again it’s what makes a character relatable. People want to read something that is not only an escape but something that can help them understand the human condition better, why we do what we do and how we overcome obstacles is a HUGE part about living. I hope in my writing that comes across!
What about you guys? Do any of you have some memorable characters you’ve read about? What made them so memorable?