|C.J. Sullivan, Author|
WINGS OF THE DIVIDED, Book 1 DIVIDED TRILOGY
Sullivan considers compelling characters a critical part of a great story. She believes that expanding on traits about a character as a story develops encourages readers to keep reading by creating mystery and anticipation. In the following article she offers insight into how to make us empathize with characters.
Creating Compelling Characters
By C. J. Sullivan
Creating compelling characters is an essential part to writing a great story. It's also one of my favorite parts about the writing process. As a writer, you want people to fall in love with your protagonists, as well as seriously dislike and/or fear your antagonists. Many people who have read my book WINGS OF THE DIVIDED have commented on how much they adored my characters. There are a number of things I did to help the good guys, bad guys, and everyone in between really come to life.
So how do you get a good idea for a good character? You can base them on characters from your favorite movies and books but put your own personal spin on them. You can also base them on people you know, including yourself. It's fun to create a mixture sometimes. For instance, aspects of that mean boss at work, plus characteristics of that jerk back in high school, plus hints of your annoying cousin all could wrap up to make one cool villain!
Some authors advise writers to avoid filling out a character chart. They say it's juvenile, but I disagree. I have found that character charts can be a great help, especially with main characters. Character charts are basically a series of questions that help you flesh out your good guys and bad guys. Some example questions from a chart: What is his/her hair length and color? What is his/her body type? What is his/her birth order? Who is his/her best friend? What is his/her type of humor? What are his/her hobbies? What are his/her phobias? Discovering all the little details about this person will create the depth you need.
As you're writing your story, really try to get into your character's head. Imagine yourself in his/her body, feeling the heartbeat, listening to the sound of his/her voice, feeling the underlying motivation for why the character is driven to do the things he does. Always ask yourself why your character is acting a certain way. Is your female villain threatening to kill the male protagonist because she is secretly in love with him, but he won't return her affections? Or is she after him because she's jealous of his great achievements and can't stand knowing someone is better than she is? Characters who do things for no reason aren't convincing, but those who have a believable reason are relatable and three-dimensional.
Another thing I do is reveal my characters slowly throughout the story. Think of your closest friends. Did you know everything about them the day you met them? Or did they slowly reveal their secrets to you over time?
By gradually showing more about a character as the story goes on, you create mystery and anticipation and give readers encouragement to keep reading. As your readers continue deeper into the tale, they feel rewarded, almost as if they are getting to know a real person.
C.J. Sullivan is the author of WINGS OF THE DIVIDED, Book 1 in THE DIVIDED trilogy. She holds a BA in English and a minor in Communication, and she taught high school English and Debate before getting married and moving to the Dallas Metroplex.
Sullivan is a native Texan who appreciates both the quiet simplicity of the state's countryside and the exciting color of its major cities. When she's not lost in the world of her angels, she reads every genre of literature, watches and re-watches cult classic movies, and obsessively de-clutters and redecorates her house. She lives with her husband, Drew, and her dachshund, Kaiser.
Fallen angel Laphelle has been sent on a mission to modern-day Earth, along with two of his comrades, to start fresh chaos behind the scenes. But everything changes when he hears the sound of the violin one fateful night. The heavenly music stirs thoughts of his life before the Fall, a time he does not consciously remember. Confused and intrigued, he begins to spiral out of control when he discovers he can actually play the violin with stunning talent. This unknown skill, along with the surprising relationship he develops with the violin’s owner, pushes him to question his role in the war of good and evil. An emotional, character-driven adventure, at times humorous and fun, and at others dark and horrific, WINGS OF THE DIVIDED is the first book in an epic trilogy that explores the sacred bond of friendship, the universal power of music, and the question of redemption.
In this scene, the angels of light Gidyon and Noam have just arrived on Earth, but they are being pursued by the relentless angel of darkness, Laphelle.
Gidyon felt his stomach lurch as he looked back. The sleek black sword in Laphelle's pale, long-nailed grip had a wavy blade that weaved like a wicked black flame frozen in time, shining like polished glass. A black snake with oval rubies for eyes protruded from the weapon's guard and twisted around Laphelle's hand and up his arm, the fangs latching into his bicep as he gripped the dark handle.
The dark angel flapped his black-feathered wings, those once-sacred appendages that now defined his Fallen identity, and he soared after his prey.
"Noam!" Laphelle shouted as two more figures emerged from the gate behind him. "Don't let that coward tell you what you can and can't do!"
The dark angel grinned wickedly, the sharp tips of his canines glinting in the moonlight. His ash blond shoulder length hair whipped back with the speed of the wind; the black crystal on a leather strap around his neck flew back as if it were holding on for dear life. The blond rogue's silken, tailored black suit blended into the velvety night, the fitted jacket fastened by silver latches below a V of bare ashen chest.
"Come back and fight me!" he said. "To arms, you wretched deserter!"
Don't look at him. Don't look at him.
Gidyon spotted the little cathedral first. He turned to Noam, who had to be fighting with all his might to ignore Laphelle's challenge.
"There!" Gidyon said.
Noam turned to the church and nodded, and like gulls dipping into the ocean, the angels of light took sharp dives for the sanctuary's wooden doors.
Gidyon glanced back, couldn't help himself. The smile vanished from Laphelle's face, his icy blue eyes widening with rage.
"Putrid PAWNS of the ALMIGHTY!" he shouted, raising the sword. "Don't you DARE!"
But the angels of light ignored his threats. They entered the safe sanctuary and quickly shut out the night.
Inside the church, Gidyon stood with his ear pressed to the closed door. Once he was certain Laphelle was not going to be a fool and try to enter the holy building, he began to turn around, releasing his anxiety with one big deflating breath. He raised his brows when he saw a man—Max Edenton, so he read from the man's mind—facing them on the aisle, his human eyes widening like full moons. Noam turned his head to the side in a curious gesture. Then Max fainted.