Well, this is it–the final stop on our Valentine’s Day Blog Tour. And what a great time it’s been. I for one have learned a lot and made some great new friends.
Today my guest is the talented AJ Nuest who’ll be telling us all her secrets for developing unique chacaters (well, maybe not all her secrets <g>).
But first, a little about AJ…
Author AJ Nuest lives in a small farming community in Northwest Indiana with her loving husband and two beautiful children. She is the author of two contemporary romance novels.
Haunted by nightmares, tormented by guilt, Jezebel came to Redemption Ranch to escape the past—except now she’s stuck in the middle of nowhere with no redemption in sight. When her mother pushes her into riding lessons with local veterinarian Matthias Saunders, Jezebel balks. Sure, the doctor is gorgeous, but he’s completely obnoxious and knows how to push every one of her buttons.
Only her deep connection with The Reverend, a gentle stallion who guards her darkest secrets, has her agreeing to spend any more time with Dr. Saunders. Caring for the stallion is the first bright spot in her life in months, and if being around the horse means she has to deal with Matthias Saunders, then so be it. Surely a city girl like her can handle one country vet—even one with disturbing blue eyes. Can’t she?
Jezebel’s Wish Excerpt:
Jezzy stopped. “I thought I was having a riding lesson.”
“You are.” He nodded toward the empty paddock. “Go in.”
“Go in?” Jezzy propped a hand on her hip. “You sure you know what you’re doing? Because it was my understanding that an actual horse is needed for a riding lesson.”
“Don’t you think it would be wise at this juncture to leave the understanding up to the professionals?”
Jezzy rolled her eyes. “You’re making this way too easy. Professionals? Please. Don’t get me started.”
“Why not? Getting you started is exactly what I’m here for.”
Jezzy’s jaw dropped. She didn’t quite know how to interpret that remark.
He held out the rope. “Now go in. And take this lead line with you.” Steely blue determination glinted in his eyes. There was no way he was going to give in.
Jezzy snatched the lead line from his hand and stormed through the gate, then turned when he closed it behind her.
He put a foot on the bottom railing and rested against the gate, facing the horizon. “Take the chair to the center of the paddock and sit down.”
“And just exactly how is that supposed to teach me to ride?”
He cocked an eyebrow. “You want out of the deal?”
Jezzy’s fist clenched tight around the lead line. What she wanted was to march back to the fence and smack his face.
Now put your cyber hands together for the lady herself!
Developing Unique Characters
All authors need to face one very harsh fact: If you can’t develop unique characters, you will quickly be shut out of the game. And to make matters even worse, your characters must not only differ between each manuscript of your own devising, they must also stand out from other novels already in print.
I’ve learned a few things about developing unique characters over the past three years. I’ve read many an aspiring writer’s story, trying to assist them in rounding out the players. Without fail, my advice always comes down to two words: Delve Deep.
I don’t speak for all genres, but if you hope to craft a good (or great) romance story, you must absolutely be prepared to explore the emotional aspect of your characters. Delving deep into what makes them tick will define who they are, and make them stand out from pre-existing characters in all the other books out there (including your own).
Numerous times I’ve critiqued stories where the hero and heroine can’t get together for whatever reason. Some misunderstanding is harbored between them, or someone is keeping a secret, or they take an immediate dislike to each other–whatever reason the author chooses to create tension between the two key players is usually laid out fairly well. However, I can’t tell you the times I’ve been happily reading along, and suddenly the hero or heroine takes some action completely contrary to their character development. In one sentence, the entire story structure crumbles.
Although I completely understand the author is trying to create some sexual tension in these scenes, or maybe holding back some critical piece of information for the big reveal. Whatever the case, unless the motivation behind each character’s behavior is clearly defined, this misdirection just leaves the reader confused. You cannot have your heroine overjoyed to be in the same room with your hero, and then consequently have her slap his face…unless her motivation is crystal clear. She’ll just come off like a psycho.
This leads me to my next salient point. Stephen King once said, “All bad writing comes down to one thing, FEAR.” Bravo! Hear, hear and can I get an Amen! I do not touch upon this topic lightly. Many times I’ve been afraid to broach an angle within my manuscripts for fear of what my readers might think. (Trust me. I live in a small town…and have to look many of my readers in the face. “Holy crap, AJ’s gone off the deep end. Did you read that?”) If you, like me, have struggled with introducing a touchy subject into your storylines, and FEAR of what others might think has stayed your hand, my advice is this: GET OVER IT!
The hard truth is we live in an imperfect world. To create characters that never have an immoral thought or do the wrong thing will make them seem too perfect. And this includes your heroes! In fact, giving your characters flaws will only make them appear MORE real, and in turn they will appeal to the reader, because the reader will be able to connect with them on an emotional level.
My favorite comment from a critique partner is, “Wow, have I ever been there.”
AHA! Even though the emotion my hero or heroine may be experiencing is far from saintly, because I’ve clearly explained the motivation behind these emotions, I’ve built a bridge to the reader’s heart. THAT is where a great romance story dwells.
Become your characters. Get up from the laptop and walk around a bit. Put yourself in their shoes, taking into consideration all the little pieces you’ve put into place, and then decide which reaction is most appropriate. Delve deep, and above all DO NOT BE AFRAID. In the end your characters will be unique, genuine, and most importantly, real.
Thanks, AJ, that’s valuable advice. FEAR is the exact reason the keyboard has a backspace (well, that and sometimes I get to typing and forget where I put my fingers.<g>).
This is the last chance to win a weekly prize and/or get your name in the drawing for the grand prize,. So don’t forget to leave us a comment.
And take some time to check out what the rest of the talented ladies on our blog tour have to say about how they develop unique characters.
I’m with Caroline Clemmons this week at http://carolineclemmons.blogspot.com
Then continue on and
Meet author Lynne Roberts at http://authorjenniferjakes.blogspot.com/
Meet paranormal romance author Maeve Greyson at http://www.ajbooks.blogspot.com/
Meet author Amy Corwin at http://lynneroberts.blogspot.com/
Meet contemporary and paranormal romance author Jill James at http://maevegreyson.blogspot.com/
Meet romantic suspense author Kat Duncan at http://amycorwin.blogspot.com
Meet contemporary YA an adult romance author Linda Kage at www.jilljameswrites.com
Meet paranormal, and historical romance author Caroline Clemmons at http://www.katduncan.net/writeabout
Meet historical and paranormal romance writer Lilly Gayle at http://lindakage.blogspot.com/
Meet erotic western historical author Jennifer Jakes at www.lillygayleromance.blogspot.com
Good luck and happy reading! AL
16 thoughts on “My Guest today–AJ Nuest”
I love the comment about “fear is a reason the keyboard has a backspace.”
LOL, Caroline. My thoughts exactly!
“Delve Deep” sounds like a perfect title for a mystery novel, lol! Great post AJ!
Oh, Darlene, you crack me up! Naughty, girl!
Thanks Maria! And thanks for stopping by!
I love reading a passionate love story with unique, memorable characters that stick with you and the author shows their strengths and weaknesses. That makes an amazing book!
Hi Rebecca, I’m still living with one of my favorite characters, General Tanaros, form a novel by Jacqueline Carey, The Sunderding. He touched me so, so deeply, and in the end I wept buckets. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so intensely toward another author’s character. She blows me away!
Great post, AJ. And you’re right. An author must delve deep and learn what makes his/her characters “tick.”
Thanks for stopping by Lilly! And for the great words of support! Gotta love the Roses…
Great post, AJ. I agree. I hate nothing more than to be reading along and then have a character act totally out of their…well, character. I think this is especially important in sequels. I’ve read sequels where the character “changed” from one book to the next without cause. That’s so disappointing.
Thanks for coming onto my blog today and sharing your ideas. It’s been a great February for the roses!
Thank you so much for having me, Mike! What a great tour we had, and I’ve made so many great friends. Cheers to the beautiful roses in our garden!
It’s been a blast huh?
It is so much easier to delve into my heroine’s psyche, but my heroes hold out on me. I have to push to get them 3-D. But the characters are all important, so I keep working at them.
Confession time! I’ve yet to write from the hero’s POV. It’s coming in my next WIP, but I’m terrified. How will I DO it? And who the heck knows what goes on inside a man’s head anyway? The whole idea is just plain scary!
It’s easy, AJ. Just think of how a woman would handle the situation and then do the opposite!