Grace's Mosaic Moments

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Character Development - Examples

From the Archives:
Legoland - 2012 (I think)

Python Hunt Update:
According to The Orlando Sentinel, January 26, 2016, a Florida Wildlife Commission officer shot a 16' 10" Burmese python in Everglades National Park. Unfortunately, as a FWC officer he is not eligible for the longest-snake prize. (That record is currently 18' 8" for a snake found in a rural section of southwest Miami-Dade County c. 2 years ago.)

As of Saturday, January 30, the Python Hunt total is 66, two short of the total for the last hunt, with two weeks yet to go.

Character Development - Examples

As I began Book 3 of the Blue Moon Rising series, I realized it offered some good examples of characters changing over the course of a book. Admittedly, a series gives them more scope, but the concept is the same: characters become boring if they remain static. For example: if the main characters fall in love on page one and stays that way throughout the book, with no more "conflict" than a bit of bickering here and there. Or the villain is just a villain, with no nuances, no effort to show any depth or multiple facets to his/her character. The heroine is born Miss Goody Two-Shoes or Ms Tough Bitch and never shows any other side to her character. Same for the hero. If any of the above happen, no matter how complex your plot, the book remains boring, boring, boring. Even if you're writing Mystery or Suspense, your characters are all-important. They must grab and hold a reader's interest. They must make readers want to root for them, forgive their sins, love them, identify with them. Readers do not want turn page after page and find your hero and heroine the same-old, same-old. Ho-hum, and wham against the wall! (Though not your Kindle, please!)

Grace note: Yes, there are always exceptions. For example, long-running mainstream mystery or suspense series (usually by male authors) in which the main characters remain pretty much true to form and changes are relegated to secondary characters. But in books where romance is emphasized, character change and growth are pretty much mandatory. The classic example: Pride and Prejudice.

Below are a few examples I am just now analyzing for character change. I never consciously thought about it while I was doing it. Let's see if I followed what I preached.

From the Blue Moon Rising series - Book 1, Rebel Princess, expected to debut soon from Kindle Scout.

Talryn "Tal" Rigel. 
Tal is your classic much-decorated hero of a militant race in a distant star system. When he is assigned to mentor some Space Academy cadets during a brief respite from battle, he encounters a young woman from the pacifist planet Psyclid, who obviously doesn't belong in his country's Space Academy. Yet there she is, and leading the cadets to victory in every mock battle they stage. From suspicion and reluctant admiration, Tal slips into rescuing the cadet when she becomes the enemy, and slowly, ever so slowly, while the story concentrates on the imprisoned heroine, Captain Tal Rigel becomes a traitor, launching a rebellion against his country and the empire it has built. (And that's just the first four chapters.)

Princess L'ira, aka Kass Kiolani.
The girl known at the Regulon Space Academy as Kass Kiolani has stars in her eyes. She wants to break free of the placid neutrality of her home planet, Psyclid, and explore the sector, the quadrant, the universe. She knows the Regs think Psyclids are weird, and she thoroughly enjoys using her paranormal powers to tweak military exercises in her favor. Secure as only a princess can be, she never dreams menace can find her. Until the eve of Regula's invasion of Psyclid when Tal saves her, confining her to a private prison to save her from rape and possible medical experimentation. Over the next four years she builds a fantasy hero based on Tal Rigel and is totally unprepared for the moment the supposedly "Killed in battle" hero pops back into her life. (Again, that's just the first four chapters.)

Grace note:  By the end of Chapter 4, both Tal and Kass have already encountered major changes in their lives. This much drama is not necessary, but they make excellent examples of "change" - heros and heroines who are forced into being something they never expected to be.

Tal & Kass. 
Another romance staple—Conflict—blows up in their faces. Kass is furious because Tal let her think he was dead, because in the process of escaping she, the girl from a pacifist planet, has been forced to kill three men, and because the real Tal Rigel is nothing like the man of her dreams. Tal is bewildered because she doesn't seem to understand that because of her, he has given up everything to become leader of the rebellion. In addition to conflict with each other, Tal and Kass must deal with the rebellion's civilian governing body, Kass's encounter with them revealing yet another facet of her character - an arrogant, and highly royal, temper.

Grace note: Conflict is the breath of life in Romance, both inner conflict and conflict from without.

The story continues:
Tal, a non-believer in both magic and paranormal, has been forced to accept that there are powers beyond the Regulon beliefs, but it's not easy. Nor is it easy for either Tal or Kass to find the real person beneath the fantasy person who had filled their dreams. Matters are further complicated by Kass's fey younger brother, who is mute, and by the fact she is engaged to Jagan Mondragon, Psyclid's Sorcerer Prime.

Grace note:  Conflict added on top of conflict.

Action conflict:
As Tal and Kass return to Blue Moon, with the Sorcerer Prime on board, they are attacked by ships of the Regulon Fleet. In the aftermath, Tal and Kass finally move closer together.

Grace note:  A hot action scene with a more cosmic scope than previous actions scenes.  And high drama is frequently followed by high romance. (Leading to an even more dramatic change in their relationship.)

More conflict:
Never make it too easy on your h/h. Tal and Kass's union is soon followed by a blow-up of epic proportions, purely personal and remaining unsettled when they go on a scouting trip to Psyclid to visit Kass's parents, the king and queen. there, they are forced to "put up or shut up." Will Kass wed Tal or Jagan Mondragon? Will she rule Psyclid? Or not? In the royal palace on Psyclid each takes one more significant step toward being something more than they had thought to be. 

Grace note:  In addition to becoming something far more than either Tal or Kass dreamed of, they give up treasured goals from their past. They become new people, better people, more powerful people; hopefully, more appealing people. If they've made you agonize with them, exult with them, then I succeeded in writing a good book.

Tal and Kass - the Future:
In Book 2, Sorcerer's Bride, Tal and Kass are in the process of becoming an "old married couple," leaving most of the drama and romance to Jagan, the Sorcerer Prime, and Kass's sister, M'lani. But in Book 3, The Bastard Prince, we see cracks appear in their relationship, and it becomes clear that it's not going to be smooth sailing for this star-crossed couple. Never letting emotions become static keeps things lively.

Grace note: And that's the story of just the two main characters from Book 1. More next week on the quite different conflicts and changes encountered by Kass's siblings and their significant others—how they too must earn their way to that magical Happily Ever After. 

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Thanks for stopping by,


For Grace's website, listing all books as Blair Bancroft, click here.
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