Friday, May 11, 2012

Enriching Characters

Hi all! Today I want to welcome my crit partner supreme, M Pax, here on a stop on her blogtour for her new release: The Backworlds. Take it away, M!

Enriching Characters

I confess character is something I was light on, something I struggled with more than other things in writing. They were great in my head, but they didn’t come off as great on paper. They were so two dimensional.

It’s something I had to practice. Going deeper, deeper, deeper, enriching my character’s lives. Writing their stories before my books begin was a huge help. I make sure the connections matter and have an impact. Real life isn’t quite that neat, but fiction isn’t real life, and everything we construct should matter and impact our stories.

My critique partners, who are better at character, constantly pushing me was another help. Eventually, it began to sink in and I made steps in the right direction. Steps became strides. Strides now become habit, and I still push myself to go farther.

Then I found this quick and dirty tool to help me add more depth and more details at an RWA (Romance Writers of America) meeting in January. It’s basically a Glasser analysis for characters. You can get more information and the worksheets at Maybe I don’t use all the details, but they’re there and they help add. 

The last piece of the puzzle was taking a dvd course called Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writers Craft. From I borrowed the dvds from a crit partner. Writing lengthy sentences isn’t always the answer, but how it taught to let the reader in on our thought process and how to add emphasis and more and bigger and richer, was very useful. 

The benefit of all this practice, listening, and learning is my writing. The Backworlds was a definite beneficiary. The characters in this first book in my new space opera series are among my favorites I’ve invented so far.

What tools and resources have helped you to create better characters?

The Backworlds

Backworlds.jpgAfter the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune by destroying his son. Cut off from family and friends, with little money, and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.

Available as an ebook from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks
Free on Smashwords & Feedbooks. Will be free on Amazon in a few weeks.

Sign up for M. Pax’s newsletter to be notified the moment The Backworlds goes FREE on Amazon, and when it becomes available from other retailers.

About the author:

MPaxrs.jpgM. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, and at Wistful Nebulae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.

Thank you very much for stopping by, M! All the best for The Backworlds.

If you'd like to do a GPF post, please check out how it works here and contact me. I'm looking for guests in June. Theme: Querying and Submission.


  1. I struggle more with descriptions, but I'll definitely check out the worksheets!

  2. Thanks for sharing the worksheets Mary, will definitely look them up! Hope Backworlds is a success for you! Misha, will send your work back soon!

  3. Thanks M Pax and Misha, I will definitely be checking out the worksheets. The book Backworlds sounds super. I like the premise a lot.

  4. Thank you for sharing your experience regarding how you started out, Mary! Hearing someone else's experience is always a plus!

    I feel your excitement through it all and I'm so happy that you are getting exposure and that things are really taking off for you!

    Much success and prosperity!

  5. Congratulations and thanks for the tips.

  6. That was a useful lesson Mary, a panster like me could benefit from it. Thanks Misha for hosting her.

  7. Great topic! A good character makes the book. I recently read a good book but the character bored me and the book sucked because of it.

    When I write, I try to give each character one of my own flaws, or a flaw of a friend or family member. Flaws are very important. There is nothing I hate more then the perfect character.

  8. Descriptions I can do in my sleep, Alex. We should trade off ms's, and fill in each other's holes. lol

    Hello, CM. Great seeing you here.

    Thanks, Rachna.

    I think it's rare that someone is good at everything from the start, Betty. Fiction is complex. I think we learn a layer at a time. When we get good at one, we look at adding in the next.

    Thank you, Traci.

    I used to be more of a pantser, too, Rek. Still am in some ways.

    I agree with you, Angelina. Perfect characters are annoying, unless it's Nancy Drew. lol

    Thanks for letting me rent your blog today, Misha.

  9. Great resources! It's funny, character development comes easily to me but world building, ai yi yi! Not so easy!

  10. Making deep characters is really hard to do. Some people make it look easy. Thanks for the tips on looking for supportive partners like the Romance Writers...there's nothing like constructive feedback to steer us writers out of the woods.

  11. Great tips. I listen to my critique partners, and beta readers. I've gotten some real sound advice from them.

  12. I'm opposite of you, Johanna. World building easy. Making my characters stick on the pages, work.

    It is tough, Michael. One of my local crit partners is a stickler for character. I'm grateful she keeps pushing me. I'm envious of those who make it look easy.

    They are a great resource for learning to improve, Loree. It helps to take a step back after getting feedback, and absorb it for awhile before acting. I think. I think more of what they say then sinks in.

  13. I use the book Personality Plus - it defines the four personalities - and combine it with The Birth Order Book. Combining the two aspects lays the foundation for any character. (Then I just build on background, personality traits, weaknesses, strengths, dreams, etc.)

    And this summer I will be traveling to Oregon one final time...

  14. Critique partners are so invaluable. I'm glad you found each other. I'm SO excited I can get into your blog today, Misha!! I've been trying but there was some sort of Mail Ware issue. It seems to be fixed. Yay! Now I can come bother you every day. LOL

  15. Building great characters is so important to capturing and holding the reader for the duration of the novel. I've read a few books, thankfully not many, where the characters were just there and everything happened around them. Not enjoyable as a reader and painful as a writer as I watched the "nothingness" unfold.

  16. Cool, Diane. If you're on the East side of the Cascades, come up to see me at the observatory.

    Critique partners are essential, I think, Ciara. Those eyes that have no idea what's going through our heads see flaws we don't.

    Thank you, Steven.

    I agree, Angela. Or there are no stakes as the characters are always happy and always win.

  17. Hi, Ladies,

    I think Mary did the right thing by putting her energy into creating deeper characters. For me, intriguing characters are an absolute must.

  18. I agree it's important to have readers you trust help push you to create the best version of your book you can. Congrats on the release :)
    Wagging Tales

  19. Characters are what readers connect with, so going deeper is spot on... great advice on how you did that, and thanks for sharing.

  20. Thanks, JL. I think it's never a waste to spend or time improving, even on things we do well.

    Once we learn how to listen, Charmaine, it's very effective.

    Thanks for stopping in, Tania.

  21. Congrats on the book release. It looks awesome and thanks for the tips!

  22. Great post! I like using backstory and character sheets to help me get to know my characters in more depth.

  23. Thanks for stopping in, Nas. Great to see you.

    Those are great tools, Deniz. Great meeting you here. :)

  24. Creating characters has always been one of my favorite aspects of writing. I've found what helps most is to have several critique partners who come at your work from different angles. It helps you see things you otherwise wouldn't. In fact, NONE of my partners are regular readers of horror or paranormal.
    Backworlds is on my to-read list!

  25. Character development is so vital to any story and so challenging. These tools you've discussed are great!

  26. Characterization is essential and it ruins a good story to have a character that's flat. Thanks for the suggestions to help out. I love creating characters. It's a lot of fun for me.

  27. I agree with you Sean. Most of my local crit partners don't read my genre either.

    I agree it's vital, Lee.

    It is fun & I'm glad I've gotten better at putting my creations on paper, Christine.

  28. Thanks for sharing these worksheets, Mary! I'm definitely going to check them out, what a great resource. From what I have read of your work, your characters are fantastic and very well fleshed out.

    Thanks for sharing this post, Misha!

  29. Thank you for this wonderful tips.


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