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The Cornerstone Of A Satisfying Story By Christina Hollis #Giveaway


 Please welcome author Christina Hollis. She's talking about Satisfying Stories today. And there are Giveaways! 

The Cornerstone Of A Satisfying Story

What does the name Scarlett O'Hara mean to you? Whether or not you've read Gone With The Wind, I'll bet the picture of a willful Southern Belle jumped straight into your mind.

Scarlett was so perfectly drawn by her author, Margaret Mitchell, we feel we know her. Her personality is even bigger than Gone With The Wind, and she’s the perfect example of how character (rather than simply characters) gives a book its heart and soul.

If the central figures of your book don't capture the imagination of your audience, they may not read on past the first few pages. Make your audience care enough about your heroes and heroines to follow them through all the ups and downs of your story. You can do this by using the three C's—Characterisation, Credibility and Consistency.

CHARACTERISATION

Take the time to build up a detailed picture of your main characters. When I worked in Marketing Research, we created customer profiles for our clients. In creative writing, the type of forms I designed for that task can give your fictional people a good grounding in reality.

Start off by cataloguing your character's appearance. It's a cliche to make heroes perfect and handsome, while every villain is rotten to the core and ugly with it, so mix and match. Handsome Bellocq, the mercenary with no morals in Raiders Of The Lost Ark, is a good example of how to confound expectations.

Create a complete fictional past for your characters, right down to the pets they kept as children, and the schools they attended— imagine the contrast in outlook a strict faith school gives, compared to one where free expression means everything. How someone reacts to rules and regulations early in life sets the scene for conflicts later on.

What does your character do when they have any spare time? How do they relate to other people—are they sociable, or are they a loner? Are they the sort who loves their work, or are they a disgruntled wage-slave? Do they do voluntary work? The more questions you can invent, the more detailed your characterisation will be.

If you send an email with the words Character Sheet in the subject line to christinahollis(at)hotmail.co.uk, I'll send you a copy of the form I fill in for each of my fictional characters. 

CREDIBILITY

Nobody’s perfect, so give your hero a flaw or two. It makes them more human, and believable.

Scarlett O'Hara, for example, has plenty of recognizable faults. That’s why we all identify with her at some stage, or at some level. Most people have bent the truth, been stubborn, or shallow, on occasion. We might be driven mad by what she does, but we’ve all been young (and sometimes reckless).  None of us alive today lived through the American Civil War, but we all know what it's like to feel hard-done by, or engulfed by some mad yearning. Scarlett's turmoil is far more acute than ours, but it’s still got that kernel of familiarity. That's one reason why we read to the end of Gone With The Wind.

CONSISTENCY

The way a character develops (for better or worse) during a story keeps us turning the pages, right to the end of the book. It's important these changes happen in a believable way. That means mixing up the big upheavals with smaller ones. Your character may be caught up in a national disaster, or they may not be able to pay a gas bill. The way they react to these situations may be completely transformed over the course of your book, but be careful they don't see-saw too wildly in between, unless there's a cast-iron reason. In my latest book, His Majesty's Secret Passion, Leo manages to unwind stressed-out Sara one step at a time. Gradually, they reach the point where her fury at uncovering the secret Leo's been keeping from her is defused by the way they must both adapt to changing circumstances. All through His Majesty's Secret Passion their attitudes to each other soften, but although this happens at different rates and at different times, they always behave in character.

To keep up with the progress of His Majesty's Secret Passion and my other writing projects, visit my author page here and click on the "like" button for updates. 



Blurb:


Leo Gregoryan is determined to be the perfect king. Loyalty to his country means sacrificing his own happiness, but he’ll divert the energy he once poured into his dream of becoming a doctor toward royal duties. All he needs right now is a stress-free vacation–no future queen need apply. Sara Astley escapes to the luxurious Paradise Hotel after she’s dumped by her partner, who then stole the promotion she’d expected. She hides her broken dreams behind a tough exterior. Her stubborn streak makes her a challenge Leo can’t resist. His special brand of hands-on persuasion seduces Sara into enjoying the holiday of a lifetime. Their fling can't hurt either of them–or so they think. Leo's focussed on being the ideal hero. Sara knows what she wants, and that’s independence. Then a revelation tears them apart, meaning things can never be the same between them...








Christina Hollis writes contemporary fiction starring complex men and

independent women–when she isn't cooking, gardening or beekeeping. Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and she’s sold over two million books worldwide. You can catch up with her at http://www.christinahollis.blogspot.com, on TwitterFacebook, and see a full list of her published books at http://www.christinahollis.com. Her current release, His Majesty's Secret Passion, is published by Wild Rose Press.
  








Enter this Giveaway to win signed copies!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

His Majesty's Secret Passion by Christina Hollis

His Majesty's Secret Passion

by Christina Hollis

Giveaway ends February 20, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

29 comments:

  1. Hi Christina! Thanks for this. I'm just learning to do this delving into characters BEFORE I start writing. How many times I've changed major aspects already, much better than when I'm halfway through the book. Beekeeping? How interesting!

    I wish you well with your novel!

    Hi Nas!

    Denise :-)

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  2. Great post! Characterization is so important. I'm a big fan of character stories, so this is a wonderful article.

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  3. Excellent tips - I'll remember those 3 Cs! :)

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    1. Glad you liked them—thanks for commenting, Jemi!

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  4. Thanks, Denise. It's really useful to have a plan—you can always update it as you write, and it's a great aid to memory.

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  5. Thanks for commenting, Christine. People are fascinating in real life. When they're fictional characters, and you're the one in charge of winding up the mechanism to make them tick, they're even more interesting.

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  6. Thanks so much for the tips about the three C's. I'd never heard it put in that easy-to-understand way before. Wishing you much success with His Majesty's Secret Passion! :)

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  7. Thanks, Lexa! I'm glad you found my post useful, too.

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  8. Congrats, Christina! Wonderful advice on creating characters!

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  9. Great advice, Christina! The 3 C's are a great rule to follow.

    Congrats on your new book!

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  10. Scarlett O'Hara is perfect example of well-done characterization. It's not easy to create a character like that.

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  11. Scarlett O'Hara is perfect example of well-done characterization. It's not easy to create a character like that.

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    1. Yes, although I've got a soft spot for Bathsheba in Hardy's "Far From The Madding Crowd" I think Scarlett has the edge on her. Thanks for commenting, Sherry.

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  12. Great advice. I appreciate this breakdown. It's nice to meet Christina. Thanks to both of you for sharing this. :)

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    1. Thanks, Karen, I loved sharing this, as it's advice I've found very useful in the past.

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  13. Great tips! I've done such an in-depth profile of characters for my next book, I know them better than the "real" people in my life.

    Two million books sold, huh? Wow. That is sooooo impressive. (Only about a million nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand more books than I've sold. HA!)

    Good luck with your newest book. It sounds terrific.

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    1. The good thing about doing that, Susan, is that the more your characters become "real" people, the more likely they are to convince and engage your readers. Thanks for the good wishes!

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  14. This was a great post. And right on the money.
    Good look with your release. Sounds like a great read.

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    1. Thanks Sandra, I'm glad you enjoyed my post.

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  15. Wonderful post. Scarlett is a great example. I read Gone with the Wind ages ago--a long read, but worth it, with amazing characters.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Medeia. You're right—the strength and complexity of the characters keeps you reading right to the end.

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  16. What a great post! I have never read Gone With the Wind, but have seen the movie. I really should read it one of these days!

    I loved hearing what Christina had to say about creating believable characters. Flaws are so important! Thanks for sharing and wishing her the best of luck.
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks for your good wishes, Jess. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. The film of Gone With The Wind was great, but it changed the original story a bit to suit the medium. No spoilers here—you'll have to read the book! :)

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  17. Solid advice, Christina. We do need to focus on making our characters leap off the page, and we have to give our readers characters worth rooting for. Incredible pects and abs don't hurt, either.

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  18. As much a classic as Gone with the Wind was, I wonder if it would float today (having never been out previously). I think perhaps Scarlett O'Hara would be seen as too unlikable. She went beyond flawed...she was insufferable from the start! But there are so many classic stories like that...I tried in my earlier days to do a "taming of the shrew" type of story where the heroine was horrible in the beginning but grew throughout the story and it was always, always rejected, with the statement that the main female character just wasn't likable enough and they have to be likable from page one.

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  19. I know what you mean, Stephanie. When Gone With The Wind first came out, women were much less outspoken than they are now. I think Scarlett, for all her faults, said and did things women of those days would have *loved* to do, but didn't dare. Now we aren't quite so restricted in our everyday lives, maybe we readers don't need our heroines to be quite so much larger than life? Thanks for commenting.

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