The Power of Compelling Characters in Your Novels

Cowgirl Tuff! by micadew, creative commons 2.0 license, flickr

Cowgirl Tuff! by micadew, creative commons 2.0 license, flickr

I’m currently teaching an online course on creating compelling characters for novelists via Outreach International, an RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter.

I’m really enjoying teaching this class and so am turning it into a video course that I will be launching soon, perhaps in September or October.

Some of the things we have covered so far:

  • Uncovering your characters goal, motivation and conflicts.
  • What are your main character fears?
  • And what does your main character believe at the beginning of the story and at the end? And how does this impact writing your story?
  • What is the turning point story that drives the character forward in the current story you are writing?

I believe readers dive into fiction desiring to escape from their daily life. They love books when they can become another person, where they can go to another location, where they can dive into another profession.

One of the ways to figure out how to create compelling characters is to think about your favorite characters in books you’ve read.

What do you love about reading fiction?

What kind of characters do you love to read about?

I was browsing for photos at for the class and found this photo of a girl in a rodeo.

I really love the photo for her intent, her focus, and that smile. And I imagine she’s had many many hours in the saddle. She also looks like she is at one with her horse, listening intently to the movement of the powerful animal beneath her. This makes me think of what she was like as a little girl. Perhaps she could ride before she could walk. Perhaps she grew up on a big farm with lots of space in which to roam. I want to know her challenges. I want to know what she is afraid of. Up on that horse it looks like she is afraid of nothing. Maybe this is the one place where she feels powerful. Maybe she hates wearing a dress. Because I write romance, I imagine that she’s only comfortable with a man if she’s in a competition with him. But don’t ask her to go on a date. Maybe her challenge is that she needs to win at the rodeo to save her family farm. Maybe she’s afraid to ask her neighbor, a rancher for help, because that man has the hots for her. Hmmm. A possible story.

What do you see in this photo? What kind of story would you write about her?

Your turn. Go!


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