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Want to Captivate a Reader? Tips in Creating a Hero or Heroine

Typewriter Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I read fiction for the characters and the adventure those characters go through. Like most readers, I want vivid heroes who draw me into their situations and, often when I don’t get into the main character, I put the book aside. But how do writers create those attention-grabbing heroes?

Here’s what some of my favorite writing experts have to say.

  1. First, don’t create a wimp. Follow Jack Bickham’s advice from 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. “Fiction writers too often forget that interesting characters are almost always characters who are active—risk takers—highly motivated toward a goal. Many a story has been wrecked at the outset because the writers chose to write about the wrong kind of person—a character of the type we sometimes call a wimp.”
  2. In The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, James N. Frey, a writing instructor and author, suggests that heroes have certain qualities that attract readers. Main characters must have courage. Either they start with it or they develop it along the way.
  3. Fictional heroes need to be clever and resourceful.
  4. Also, a compelling hero or heroine has a special talent. Something he or she can do better than anyone else in the story. We’re attracted to competence. We tend to pick doctors, mechanics, restaurant chefs and, yes, even fictional heroes because they perform a skill or set of skills exceptionally well.
  5. Like the previous examples, the heroine in our novels might use her unique talent to make a living and be proficient at her calling.
  6. An appealing hero is also a person who lives by his own rules. He strives to do what’s right in his mind even if others in the story don’t understand him.
  7. An effective main character is the focus of the action and the story. She must take the lead in whatever case she embraces.
  8. In Thanks, but This Isn’t For Us, Jessica Page Morrell, a best-selling author of many books on writing craft, echoes this. She says, “Heroes take charge, take responsibility, and take risks … they’re people of action who speak their minds, kick ass and take names, and, most important, who act when in real life we’d be cowering, or wetting our pants, or scrambling for an exit.”
  9. Further, she goes on to state, “Heroes dare to be wrong.”
  10. Equally important the large-and-in-charge heroine—at the center of the story, should be flawed. She or he has been wounded in the past. Perhaps he’s lost a loved one, been injured or lost his faith. He’s vulnerable and in need of healing. He has an event or a series of events in his past he’s got to work through. This brokenness fuels his current goals, makes him human and enables readers to identify with him.
  11. The hero has to grow and change throughout the story. Often, he strives to become less selfish or self-centered.
  12. She may even sacrifice herself for the good of others. Frey believes that the most compelling heroines motivated by idealism at some point in the story.
  13. Lastly, Frey suggests that the hero should be sexually potent. As Frey puts it, “Creating a mythic character without sexual energy is like bringing the burgers, the buns, and the charcoal to the barbecue, and leaving the matches at home.”

 

I love reading stories that feature intriguing characters and I hope these tips will help you when you write your next tale. Also, if you’ve found the suggestions useful, I hope you’ll consider checking out the resources quoted in this article for further study.

 

Sources

Bickham, Jack M. 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. Writers Digest Bks., U.S., 1998.

Frey, James N. The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth. St. Martins Griffin, 2002.

Morrell, Jessica Page. Thanks, but This Isn’t for Us. Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2009.

FYI: I wrote this post for the Wisconsin Romance Writers. You can check it out at this link.

Creating a Hero or Heroine that Captivates Readers

The Divine Dungeon Series- Dungeon Born, Dungeon Madness and Dungeon Calamity -A Goodreads Book Review-

Dungeon Calamity (The Divine Dungeon, #3)Dungeon Calamity by Dakota Krout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer-This series was the first LitRPG story I believe I’ve ever read. Originally, I started it to please my son. I was planning on just skimming the first book Dungeon Born, but I got drawn in.

The series is basically a life story, a fantastic biography. Cal is a sentient dungeon core, but he’s so much more. He’s funny, interesting, and surprisingly human for a supposedly inanimate object. He’s got a good personality, is fond of puns, and is likable as he grows from being self-absorbed to caring for the community living over him.

Also, I love his creations. They’re original and explained well enough that a non-RPG reader like me understood them and their actions, but my favorite part of this series is being in Cal’s head while he strategizes and pines for Dani, his companion/love interest, a wisp that necromancers have kidnapped. He is so desperate to rescue her, he learns to fly. Yep, he becomes a flying dungeon.

Then there’s the awesome supporting cast of dungeon-goers! Starting with Dale. He buys the mountain the dungeon is on and ends up trying to level up and train while dealing with the colorful townies. Most of the residents are eccentric and delightfully frustrating to Dale.
Some of my favorites are: Frank, the guild master, Hans, the ex-assassin, Rose, the chaos-archer, Bob, the goblin researcher, and James the rude portal mage who keeps getting banished.

I am impressed at how the story comes full circle. Everything’s explained and makes sense in this well-plotted tale. One caution-this series might not be for people who follow Stephen King’s no adverb rule, but if you’re looking for something different to read and you like stories with swords, spells and Lord-of-the-Rings type creatures, consider giving this series a try.

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Throne of Glass-A Goodreads Review

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Prince Dorian offers eighteen-year-old assassin, Celeana a chance to compete for position of champion for the tyrannical King, who killed her parents, she reluctantly agrees, thinking anything must be better than the salt mines of Endovier. She’s wrong. Ghosts haunt her. The King and his courtiers plot her doom and summoned demons hunt her through secret passages. She struggles to survive combat, poisonings, and dress fittings while the Prince and the Captain of the guard via for her attention and mysteries unfold.

It’s pretty much everything a reader like me wants in a fantasy romance. If you like badass femme fatales, swordplay mixed with royal balls, and lots of cheeky banter between paramours, you’ll enjoy this novel.

FYI- I bought a copy of this book from Audible.

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The Burning Sky–A Goodreads Review

The Burning Sky (The Elemental Trilogy, #1)The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Iolanthe just wants to ensure her guardian, a drug addict, keeps his post when she calls lightning down, alerting the Bane’s minions to her presence as the Elemental Wizard destine to bring down the Bane, making her public enemy number one in Atlantis and the Domain.

Luckily, Prince Titus’s mom warned him about Iolanthe in the prophesies she kept before her death, so when Titus sees the lightning, he charges to the rescue on a magical steed. He gets to Iolanthe seconds before the minions arrive, and the game is afoot. The two flee to Victorian England, where they must rely on deception and their wits to evade plot after plot. At one point, even the Prince’s allies attempt to kill Iolanthe. Will the intrepid pair fall in love? Defeat the Bane? Or be captured by his Inquisitor and her minions?

Prince Titus is dedicated to protecting both Iolanthe and his Domain, but he pretends to be callow and stuck-on-himself while Iolanthe is talented, resourceful and incredibly stubborn, which creates many delightful bits of banter as she wants no part of the Prince’s suicidal plans to take down the tyrant.

The humor, the historic details, the magical world and the awesome characters you can root for make this story a page-turner. I seriously can’t wait to read the next novel in this series, or any of Sherry Thomas’ books. Wow can this author write.

If you like fantasies with romance and humor, I bet you’ll love this book.

I purchased and listened to this digital download offering from Audible. Then I bought the paperback version–that’s how much I like this story.

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Peonies

Every June I look forward to my peonies blooming. My grandmother had a pink tree peony, so I planted one in my garden. Every year when it blooms I think of her.

To honor Grandma and peonies, I’d like to share thirteen facts I’ve researched.

  1. Peony flowers can be 10 inches in diameter.

2. When Marco Polo saw peonies in China, he’s said to have described them as, “roses as big as cabbages.”

3. When they open, the huge blossoms can be so heavy that they cause their stems to droop over, so most gardeners use ring-cage supports.

4. If you grow peonies, it’s likely you’ve noticed that ants crawl all over the buds. Gardeners have theorized that peonies need the ants to open. Although scientists might disagree with that, they do note that the buds produce a nectar that attract ants.

5. Gardening websites observe that the ants help the peonies by attacking and/or devouring other insects that could harm the peony and that once the peony blossoms open the number of ants crawling on them decrease. That said one website recommended gently shaking the blooms before bringing them into the house.

6. According to several sources, peonies symbolize happy marriages and good luck in China.

7. Perhaps because this symbolism or perhaps because of their sheer beauty, peonies are popular wedding flowers.

8. Probably the most common color for peonies is pink, but they come in hue except for blue.

9. When I moved into my current home, the peonies under the elms were just green-leaved bushes. After a couple of years of them not blooming, I decided to move them to the sunny rose garden and discovered that even three feet down I hadn’t found the end of their roots. I was surprised, yet if I’d done research at the time, I’d have learned peony roots can be six to eight feet in length.

10. I moved the peonies because I’d learned that they don’t bloom well in the shade.

11. They need full sun to thrive, so it’s important to consider how close they are to developing trees when you plant them.

12. Another surprising fact about peonies is that they can live for hundred years.

13. And once you’ve picked them, their blossoms, usually last about five days.

Peonies are one of my favorite flowers partly because of Grandma and partly because of their huge and lovely blooms. Just when I think I’m growing my favorites, another peony variety catches my eye. Do you like peonies? What’s your favorite color?

 

Sources

English, Micaela. “12 Facts Every Peony Enthusiast Needs to Know.” Town & Country, Town & Country, 7 Oct. 2017, www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/arts-and-culture/news/g1236/12-peony-facts/.

Noelle, et al. “Flower Garden: Little Known Facts About Peonies.” Birds and Blooms, 13 June 2014, www.birdsandblooms.com/blog/flower-garden-little-known-facts-peonies/.

Paula, et al. “Growing Tips for Peonies.” Birds and Blooms, 24 Nov. 2011, www.birdsandblooms.com/blog/growing-tips-for-peonies/.

“Peony Facts.” Math, www.softschools.com/facts/plants/peony_facts/2152/.

OTHER THAN is a Double Finalist in the 2018 Prism Contest

 

I’m thrilled to announce that Other Than is a double finalist in the 2018 Prism Contest.

This means a lot to me. I’ve many close sisters and friends in the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers, and without their support, I wouldn’t have published.

Congratulations to the other finalists.

2018 PRISM Finalists

 

The Chalk Man–A Goodreads Review

The Chalk ManThe Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Eddie “Munster” Adams’ dad often warned him not to assume things, and the author means for readers to take this to heart—one of the reasons this book is such a fun read. Its plot surprises again and again.

The story’s a lot like Stand by Me in that it features a group of 12-year-old friends: Eddie, Hoppo, Nicky, Fat Gav, and Metal Mickey and a series of macabre events—two freak accidents, a beating as well as an ax murder Stephan King might have penned. The chalk men symbols that the friends invented lead to the body. And guess what? The victim’s head is missing. (Not to be found until the very last pages in the tale in what is yet another well-plotted twist.)

The murder and the investigations haunt the group of friends and the town of Anderbury. Eddie is at the center of all. He’s never put the events of his twelfth summer, when the ax murder occurred, and now, in midlife Eddie’s a single teacher who nurses a drinking problem and still lives in his family’s home.
The story alternates between 1986 and the present, but in both timestreams the quirky characters and the sinister mysteries held my attention.

If you like whodunnits, as well as story twists, this novel will definitely be worth your time.

Just so you know-I borrowed this book from my local library.

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Website Restored

 

Photo by Rayi Christian Wicaksono on Unsplash

Apologies. Malware infected my site, but after experts and some updated security programs, we’re clear.

I hope you’ll visit once again.

Other Than Finals in the 2018 Maine Romance Writers’ Strut Your Stuff Contest

 

 

I’m please to announce that Other Than is one of the finalists in the 2018 Maine Romance Writers’ Strut Your Stuff Award.

Here’s the link to see the finalists and find out about the contest.
http://www.maineromancewriters.com/p/contest-finalists.html
Thanks.

Jennifer Trethewey’s “Tying the Scot” A Goodreads Review

Tying the ScotTying the Scot by Jennifer Trethewey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When they were children, Alex Sinclair rescued Lucy Fitzharris from her brother’s pranks. He vowed to protect her always, so… when her father, an English peer and his father’s best friend, asks him to marry her, he accepts. Because she’s illegitimate, Lucy has little chance to marry well in the London Ton. To accept Alex’s offer of marriage, she’s sent to Balforss against her will with only her adorable lap dog, Hercules for comfort.

Alex and his friends and cousins meet her at the docks to escort her to the family estate, but Alex decides to hide his identity as her future groom, and this is just the first misunderstanding between the two. Sparks fly. The chemistry between these two flares. They bicker and trick each other, but eventually learn to love each other.

Lucy is spoiled and privileged, and Alex is impulsive and jealous, yet as they face adversity together, they magnify each other’s best qualities, and become the heroine and hero we all want to root for.
Tying the Scot is a fun read that raised lots of smiles and chuckles from me. In addition, the setting and the descriptions of 19th century Scotland enchanted me as a reader. Balforss is a fantastic virtual vacation.

If you’re a fan of Scottish Historical Romances, this is one you’ve got to try for the endearing characters, the fiery romance and the magical descriptions of Balforss.

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