Character Descriptions #Writing #Author #Advice

Hey Jim,

I was just wondering how you come up with your character descriptions? I’m trying to accurately describe my character, but sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly how I want them to look, you know?

Thanks,
Gerraid



 

Hi Gerraid,

All too well, I’m afraid. It can be tough figuring out what your character looks like. If you create the character from scratch in your mind, it can be tough to write that person down on paper, especially if it’s a main character description where you want to go into vivid detail. So I’ll give two pieces of advice here:

Minor Characters: Give Hair and Eye color, gender, tall/short, and maybe one or two identifying marks (Scars, facial hair etc.) This is a character that you probably aren’t going to see much, so going into great detail to describe them really isn’t necessary, or even wanted in most cases.

Major/Lead Characters: Okay, here’s where you really want to go into detail, especially if you have a specific idea about what this character looks like.  So what I try to do is take the Minor Character description (see above) and find someone who resembles your description. Study them carefully and describe that person in your text. Be careful to leave out any identifying details such as specific birthmarks, tattoos, or such… unless  the person knows your using them as a template.

Let me give you an example…

In my most recent book, one of my characters is a historical person… however there are no real pictures of her that can identify her. We don’t even know her real hair color other than the fact that people nicknamed her ‘ginger.’

Well I took that nickname and the fact that she’s from Ireland and made the assumption that she had red hair. So I’ve got a redhead, presumably a ginger, which means freckles and fairly pale skin, and from both my story and her historical description, a bit of a violent side.

So I searched for a while, but couldn’t find the right person who matched this character… until I went back and re-watched a few episodes of one of my favorite shows. That’s when I saw her… a red haired bad ass who seemed to have a perpetual scowl on her face. PERFECT!
I looked up a picture of her and then described the shape of her lips, how her hair parted, the way her eyes looked, the shape of her nose, etc. I made a few edits and a few embellishments on the way, but at the end, I had my character.

Everyone has their own way and their own style and my hat goes off to those people who can just pull full character descriptions out of the air.

Anyway, I hope this helps!


 

Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.

jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have multiple published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.

Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Note:
If you have read my books, PLEASE log into Amazon and post a review. I really love to hear everyone’s thoughts and constructive criticisms. Reviews help get my book attention and word of mouth is everything in this business!

Thanks friends!

Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Soul Siphon Update

REALLY coming down to the wire now!

The cover is done and is just having the lettering added to it.

The Copyright and legal documents are good to go.

The ISBN has been registered.

The editing is, thankfully, DONE!

Everything looks good and hopefully I’ll be on to the proofing step before the end of the week.
Though I hate to say this… our 4/3 release may need to be pushed back by a week, but should be out before we know it!
This will be my largest and most ambitious work yet. Where in the past I have restrained my writing, this time, I’m holding nothing back. Hopefully it all meets with approval.

Book Stats:
Genre(s): Fantasy, Paranormal, Action/Adventure, Urban
Pages: 520
Chapters: 33
Cast:
Corban McConnell (Protagonist)
Mary Jane Kelly (Protagonist)
Johnny Tremane
Vladimir Pietrov
Lihua Lin
Saint Michael
Adramelech/Moloch
as well as a mystery character that only people who have read my other work will recognize. I’ll leave that as a surprise.

Synopsis:

A starved child, an assassinated soviet soldier, a woman abandoned on the streets of Hong Kong, a victim of history’s most mysterious killer, and a young man who never asked to be thrown into the middle of a spiritual war.

They reside in the shadows and other dark places, waiting for those who would inflict pain and suffering on the innocent. An unlikely group, with one thing in common; death. Each with powers that reflect the way they died. Corban found himself thrust into the fray with this group of anti-heroes. Cursed with unstable powers stemming from a fatal demonic possession, Corban must unravel the mystery behind his death. As more information comes to light, Corban begins to realize that nothing in his life was what it appeared to be and the price of victory may be his own soul.



Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

Character Descriptions

Hey Jim,

I was just wondering how you come up with your character descriptions? I’m trying to accurately describe my character, but sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly how I want them to look, you know?

Thanks,
Gerraid



 

Hi Gerraid,

All too well, I’m afraid. It can be tough figuring out what your character looks like. If you create the character from scratch in your mind, it can be tough to write that person down on paper, especially if it’s a main character description where you want to go into vivid detail. So I’ll give two pieces of advice here:

Minor Characters: Give Hair and Eye color, gender, tall/short, and maybe one or two identifying marks (Scars, facial hair etc.) This is a character that you probably aren’t going to see much, so going into great detail to describe them really isn’t necessary, or even wanted in most cases.

Major/Lead Characters: Okay, here’s where you really want to go into detail, especially if you have a specific idea about what this character looks like.  So what I try to do is take the Minor Character description (see above) and find someone who resembles your description. Study them carefully and describe that person in your text. Be careful to leave out any identifying details such as specific birthmarks, tattoos, or such… unless  the person knows your using them as a template.

Let me give you an example…

In my most recent book, one of my characters is a historical person… however there are no real pictures of her that can identify her. We don’t even know her real hair color other than the fact that people nicknamed her ‘ginger.’

Well I took that nickname and the fact that she’s from Ireland and made the assumption that she had red hair. So I’ve got a redhead, presumably a ginger, which means freckles and fairly pale skin, and from both my story and her historical description, a bit of a violent side.

So I searched for a while, but couldn’t find the right person who matched this character… until I went back and re-watched a few episodes of one of my favorite shows. That’s when I saw her… a red haired bad ass who seemed to have a perpetual scowl on her face. PERFECT!
I looked up a picture of her and then described the shape of her lips, how her hair parted, the way her eyes looked, the shape of her nose, etc. I made a few edits and a few embellishments on the way, but at the end, I had my character.

Everyone has their own way and their own style and my hat goes off to those people who can just pull full character descriptions out of the air.

Anyway, I hope this helps!


 

Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Also, feel free to check out my works of Fantasy and Historical Fiction, Available on Amazon and where ever books are sold. See the link below:

http://www.amazon.com/James-Harrington/e/B00P7FBXTU

Thanks friends!
Catch you on the flip side!

-Jim

My Interesting Blog

“Hello
I began writing my blog a bit more than a month ago and I’m writing fiction. I chose to write it publicly on wordpress mainly because I’m a bit insecure about my writing and I want some honest advice and feedback from people who aren’t my family.
Maybe you could give me some advice on how to make myself (or my blog) more interesting or presentable so that I’d be able to attract more people?”

-Minxed.

Well early bird catches the worm. Thank you, Minxed for being the first to ask a question.

So this is the big money question when it comes to blogging. How do you get people interest? What makes the successful blogs so successful… well… hard work. Blogging is like doing charity work. You get out what you put in. If you just write, post, and forget, you’re not going to get very far. To blog, is to be a part of a community of people with different opinions, goods, ideas, and thoughts to share. Once you’ve posted your own work, go out, check out some other blogs, give someone an opinion, offer advice, or give some criticism in the comment fields. I often like to share stores that other people write as a way to help boost their audience. That’s a really good way of building your community and it will attract people to take a look at what you’ve got going on.

In terms of actual blog appearance and content, the best advice I can give to make people want to come to your blog is to offer something new. If you do book reviews, do something off of the beaten path. Perhaps a little known indie author, or something you read on another blog, perhaps. If you’re just straight up writing and creating a story that you want to share with the world, congratulations, you’re already half way there. Not everyone can do what you do and that will make your blog more unique.

Personally, I’d recommend having the first couple of chapters written and polished BEFORE submitting the first one. When I submitted one of my stories on this blog… granted I never finished the story, but when I started, I made sure I had two chapters written ahead of the ones I was posting.
Another thing I’d recommend is to spruce up your page a little. Right now, you have one of the basic designs that wordpress offers. I’d consider adding images and creating a background. If you have any skill with paints and a brush, you should have no problem creating something you can use.
If not, there are plenty of free/public domain images available on the web.

Another thing that always catches the eye is the cover. Don’t just post the story without a cover. When I check out stories to read under the Reader section of wordpress, the stories that I give preference to are the ones that have an attractive cover. I know the old adage says ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ and that’s very true, but you’re more likely to draw your readers in with an awesome looking cover as a featured image. Below is an example of the cover to my book, which I used as the featured image of any post related to this book’s release.

Cover design by Brett Warniers!

Cover design by Brett Warniers!

Hiring an artist for $200-$400 may seem daunting, but if you’re really into it, a great design will make all the difference.

Readers, what do you think? Do you agree with my advice and/or do you think that there is more Minxed can do to attract readers? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Minxed, if you have any further questions or would like me to elaborate on the above points, please feel free to email me:
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com

Thanks friends, catch you on the flip side,

Jim


Readers,

Do you have a question about writing, publishing, my stories, etc? Please feel free to post a comment or email me.
jimthewritingwizard@gmail.com
I’ll use those comments to select my next blog post.

I have been writing for several years, have 4 published works, experience with publishing and independent work, so I can hopefully be of assistance.
Please note, I only do one of these a day and will do my best to respond to everyone, but it may take some time.

Author’s Advice pt. 14

Choosing to write characters that you hate into your story is a very bad idea.

In a previous posting I talked about how you have to step outside of your comfort zone and often write a character that has views contrary to your own. Indeed this is a very good way of creating relate-able characters and keeping a dynamic story line going. However, that doesn’t mean you have to write a character that you don’t like.

Think about it, most everyone out there has friends with viewpoints that differ from their own. You don’t dislike that person for their views, you simply disagree with them. Well it’s the same thing when creating a character, you can create a character with views that you don’t agree with, without despising that character.

A lot of my readers have commented on how they can’t stand it when people write characters that they hate or at the very least don’t care about and continuously put them through unspeakable horrors that no one would realistically make it through unscathed, if at all. Given the amount of comments I got on this, I felt that a post dealing with this topic was inevitable, so thank you!

I myself have been guilty of this in the past. One of my early stories featured a villain that was based on a guy I went to college with. He was someone who was a few years older than me, completely paranoid about anyone who spoke to his girlfriend, and had one too many character flaws that were just intolerable. I locked horns with this person too many times and really came to absolutely despise them. So, like many other writers, I thought the traits he possessed, his character flaws, and outright disdain was perfect for a villain.

I was wrong…

Every time I wrote, I pictured his face and it made my blood boil. The result was a dark and bitter story that not even the most manic-depressive teenager would enjoy. I read through it once and immediately tore it up. That’s not how I wanted to write, not at all. I knew I was better than that.

The worst part is that the people who write this way and don’t realize what they’re doing, don’t seem to understand that their readers pick up on this kind of thing. Readers are very good about detecting when someone is writing with disdain and it doesn’t leave a good impression. I’ve known people who stopped reading stories because of things like this.

The inherent problems with this method of writing are as follows…

1. The writer doesn’t care about this character and tends to not give them much of a back story, making the character stale and uninteresting.

2. The amount of pain and suffering that a writer puts that character through usually hints at a very misanthropic attitude, whether that’s accurate or not, that’s how it comes off.

3. The character is unrealistic. Though I hate to make this reference, go watch IT, and keep a very close eye on the character Henry Bowers.

I know in the book he’s probably given more explanation and that’s fine, but if you’ve read it, try to look at the movie objectively like you haven’t. There is no development of this character, he’s a one-dimensional villain who sees murder and terror as the only option… why? Is there someone like this that King himself had to deal with growing up? I don’t know….

Many believe that this is the best way to write a villain or a character who won’t survive long, and I can’t say that I agree at all. In fact, one of the best villains I ever wrote about, I based on another college friend of mine, though I would NEVER admit this to her. This person was the type of individual who cared more about the people around them, than their own well-being. They would have given you the shirt of their back for the asking. I thought about it and when the gears were turning, I thought to myself, ‘How awesome would it be to make this character one of the villains? No one would see it coming!’

So I went ahead with it. People like this character, it was someone who just kind of fell in with the group due to circumstances, but quickly became one of them. Even my wife gravitated towards this character. So you can imagine that absolute shock when I revealed that this character was not only not on their side, but had been responsible for most of their problems. They had their reasons, but it didn’t change the fact that they were not on the side of the moral right throughout the story.

THAT is how you write a great and dynamic character. If you write a character with loving care and are truly excited about the impact the character will have, your audience will pick up on it and love that character. It is pretty much the exact opposite of an unfortunately growing trend among writers, especially those who write young adult fiction.

Just keep that in mind the next time you sit down to create a new character.
Thanks friends, catch you on the flip side,

Jim

Author’s Advice Pt. 13

Don’t let writing consume your life.

So you’re writing, you have a great idea and you want to get the whole thing down while it’s fresh in your mind. It’s perfect and if you don’t write it down right now, you’ll lose it. I get it, I’ve been there. There is certainly nothing wrong with taking that moment to get that info down, but the problem with great ideas like your initial one is that they tend to branch.

Soon one awesome idea becomes 3 awesome ideas and then those also branch out into 4 or 5 of their own. The next thing you know, you’ve blown through several hours. Your partner is yelling at you because you haven’t done your chores or paid attention to them. You’ve neglected your responsibilities, even though you didn’t mean to.

It happens, and it’s a difficult habit to break. What’s even more difficult is learning to pull yourself away and say ‘enough is enough.’ I know it may seem like that one great idea is the be all, end all, and you’ll never think of anything that great again… but you will. The fact is that some of the best writing I’ve done is when I passed up seemingly great ideas and then came up with even better ones. Creative juices do not stop flowing. They may ebb, or even slow to a trickle, but they never stop. You’ll get that rush again, and before long, you’ll be steaming out another few chapters.

Remember, when in doubt, the book can wait. Your characters are fictional, off living their own lives, or dead (depending on fiction or non-fiction), so it doesn’t matter if you get everything down today or tomorrow. What does matter are the people right in front of you wanting to spend time with you. It may mean that you will take a lot longer to finish your book, but in the end it really is the better way.

Oh, and for those of you who will respond that your writing is your life…

PUT YOUR PEN OR COMPUTER DOWN, NOW!!! Put it down, go outside and go do something, anything else. Meet up with friends, go on a date, or if you have a family, take them out somewhere. Stay away from writing at least for a little while. You’ll be better off, believe me.

Thanks friends, catch you on the flip side,
Jim