If I had to describe myself, it would be in a word that has many meanings with a complexity which falls off the tongue.
A word made up of many elements, is deceptive in appearance, and creates an illusion from the imagination.
My word would be Phantasmagoric. ~Summer Ross

Friday, September 24, 2010

2 Blogfest entries!

I think I'm getting good at two blogfest entries at once!
 First up Elana Johnson has the Compelling characters experiment
and Second is Southern Cities Mystery Birthday blogfest

I don't think these are too long, so hopefully you can manage through both- Let me know how it turns out! 

The topic I am to discuss is: Writing Compelling Characters

First lets look at the details,

Voice Means everything not only to the writer, but also to the reader, and importantly to the character. If the said MC does not have a believable voice, then we wont rely on that Character for trust. And thus stop reading or give  a bad review.
 Do you trust your character?

Next how does the character react? If the MC does the exact opposite of what a reader "thinks" the MC should, then its less interesting. ****Unless there is  a specific reason the reader can relate to on why the MC is doing things this way.

Which leads me into...

 Does the MC relate to the reader on a personal level? If the MC can relate on a personal level to the readers, then we as readers are more compelled to "feel" for the character- either disgust or rooting for, or humiliation, comedy, any number of things as long as it reaches that readers emotional level.

Basically what it boils down to, is your character reacting in a human way? If not does the MC at least touch an emotion a reader can relate to?

Throw everything at your character until you can get the desired response and you will find what compels that character will be what compels the reader to read about the MC.

Now take what I have just said and apply it to my Birthday blogfest entry. We learn not only by seeing our own mistakes, but viewing it in others as well- so what are my character mistakes?

Birthday blogfest entry-

Elisa watched in amusement as bright green flip-flops flung a crossed the crowded room. Another feisty night at the bar was all it took to bring her stress level under control and let loose some of the irritation from the previous week. She thought of Randal’s fat face as the flying flops hit their mark in the white and brown banister across the table. At least twelve people had come to join in the Birthday  festivities of the night. Among them was Sara, the owner of the green winged flops.

“I can’t believe you hit it!” Chris exclaimed over the loud drumming music.

“Ha! Two shots down buddy!” Sara replied with a smile that lit her entire face and brought a spark to her blue eyes. Elisa watched Chris down two of the thirteen shots of Vodka sitting a crossed from them. His shaven face scrunched up as if he found a sour lemon and his adams-apple dropped the liquid down his throat. A familiar song hit the speakers and Elisa rose to the beat.

“Come on girls, its time to get our heels moving!” Elisa called out as she drug Sara and two others from the square tables shoved together. Her black leather boots slicked through the rugged carpet as drinks sloshed over rims in the mass of people charging to the dance floor.

Elisa swayed her hips and stomped her feet to the drums. She released her pent up frustration into the rhythm of the music. Each sway knocked out one sentence in Randal’s arsenal of vocabulary. Shots passed through the crowd, she downed a Jack Daniels then they all headed back to their corner tables.

“Elisa, watch out!” Elisa turned and slammed right into a tall burly man and drinks spilt down the front of her black blouse.

“Shit!” Elisa retorted to the spills as she looked down at her shirt reeking of beer. It never failed, beer always managed to be spilt at some point, this time it just happened to land on her.

“I’m sorry; you’re so short I didn’t see you coming through.” A gruff voice said to her right. Elisa looked up and hid her anger from his sight. Just her luck he would have to be cute, or maybe that was the alcohol talking? Either way, it’s only a bit of spilt beer she convinced herself.

“No worries man.” Elisa replied, blew him a kiss, and swayed the few steps back to the tables.

“He’s still staring…” Sara whispered in Elisa’s ear.

“Let him stare, if he wants me he knows where to find me, then I’ll give him what he deserves.” Elisa replied giving her friend a sweet smile that left complete doubt to the sweet part on any observing bystander.


Unknown said...

You're the master of blog fests! A mad woman, and I love you for it!!! Both great pieces! Thanks for taking part in the Great Blogging Experiment, it has so far been a ton of fun and I know it'll be a long day getting around to everyone's, but it'll be worth it!

I love the birthday blog fest, though I'm relieved I didn't sign up, I think it would have been too much for me! Take a break! You deserve it, sending a virtual cookie your way!

Jessica Bell said...

In reply to the character blogfest. hmmm, Do you trust your character? That's a very unique question! I might have to think about that one ... :o)

Golden Eagle said...

Emotions and reactions do play a big part in compelling characters! If they're not there or if the person doesn't react right, the character isn't as attractive.

Christine Fonseca said...


Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

SOunds good. I think it's a great entry

C. N. Nevets said...

"...what compels that character will be what compels the reader..."

This is an excellent summary to live by.

Jules said...

You explanation of character makes it sound so easy :)

Elisa loves intrigue doesn't she? Now how do you do this 2 at once thing? Are you on power drinks? :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Lindsay said...

I so agree with you on voice meaning everything. Plus, I need to see my character as humans, so the mistakes they make allow me to relate.
Great post. :)

Old Kitty said...

I like the flirty atmosphere of your piece and the way you set the scene for this collision between Elisa and the cute stranger! A birthday bash to be remembered!

take care

Michelle McLean said...

Very nice - if a character reacts unrealistically I'm immediately pulled out of the story. Great post!

Summer Ross said...

Jules~ LOL um, no! Power drinks taste nasty.

Thank you everyone for your comments. I'll be around today but wont be really addressing to many individually due to classes, and I will get around to all of your blogs today or this weekend. :)

JournoMich said...

Two at once! Impressive. And thanks for including mine. I'm honored!

Talk about a good way to spend a birthday. I'll have to remember that for my next one...


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You're right - characters need to make a lot of human mistakes.

Carolyn V. said...

I think it's true that the reader has to relate to the mc. I think it keeps the reader in the book and keeps them reading.

Two blogfests at once? Whew! You're amazing Summer! I had a hard time with one! =)

Lola Sharp said...

I agree...voice is VERY important!

And man alive, you are the multi-tasking blogfest queen! I'm tired just thinking about it.

Have a wonderful weekend, Summer.

Margo Berendsen said...

I really like this bit of advice: Throw everything at your character until you can get the desired response and you will find what compels that character will be what compels the reader to read about the MC.

Elana Johnson said...

That question in red really stuck out to me. Do you trust your character? What a great question. Are they telling the right story? Have they reacted the right way? Can we trust them?

If the answer is yes, I think that's what moves people through books. Great post!

Nicki Elson said...

In regards to the character reacting the way the reader "thinks" they would, I like that you gave the out for characters to not necessarily react as we would expect them to. Surprises like that are fun, but I agree that there needs to be a specific reason for the unexpected reaction to make it believable.

Have fun on all your hops! I'm doing the Experiment too!

N. R. Williams said...

Voice is so important.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

I think even non-human characters have to act in a human way for us to understand them. Good point!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Holy cow, girl! That was a lot of blogfest to bite off in one day. You did great! Love the character tips. :-)

Nicole Zoltack said...

Trust is key. And two blogfests in one day? That's insane. Great job.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Didn't you just do a blogfest combo last week???

Yep, you've (the reader) got to feel something for your mc. It doesn't have to be love, but you've got to have some kind of deep connection to the mc or they will put the book down.

Jen said...

"Throw everything at your character until you can get the desired response."

Excellent point!


Elena Solodow said...

Do you trust your character?

The interesting part of that question is even if you're dealing with a secretive character, you still need to know what their motives are. I think the salient point is:

Do your characters trust you?

Wendy Tyler Ryan said...

Re: compelling characters. It's good to see a common theme - at least where I have visited so far, including my own post - "human" or "humanity" being at the forefront.

Raquel Byrnes said...

Hah! A party scene on Friday. Fun way to kick off the weekend. Loved the post and the description of the music and dancing.

Edge of Your Seat Romance

Summer Ross said...

Yeah I did do two blogfests in one day last week too I think. I adore writing and plan on taking advantage of every opportunity I can.

That's a great question- "do your characters trust you?" I wonder how an author might go about finding out the answer. :)

J.C. Martin said...

Yours is at least the third post talking about a believable character voice. So many talented people can't be wrong!

J.C. Martin said...

Yours is at least the third post mentioning a believable character voice. So many talented people can't be wrong!

Unknown said...

Voice and believably equal rounded individuals.
Your post was the most colourful - I needed a colour to keep me going, I am trying to read and comment on all posts. :)

Speaking of which I love that Birthday opening too.

Arlee Bird said...

Your post made me look at the topic from a different angle. The concept of giving a character a voice reminded me that the character should be three dimensional. We should realistically hear the character and see that character come to life, jumping off the page to dwell with us while we read the story and whose memory lingers afterword. An effective living character needs to be more than just words on a page.
Nice contribution.

Tossing It Out

Melissa said...

Killing two birds with one stone? Ambitious. But you pulled it off really well. I love both entries and I can see that you actually use your own advice - always a good thing.

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Hey, cutie! Nice entry! I'm glad you've participated in both--fun! :D Not only do we need to make our MCs believable, but we need our readers to make that special connection. Make them feel that they wish our MCs were real.

Come and visit me!

Stephanie Lorée said...

Bit if intrigue, a little dancing, some beer... sounds like fun to me! Great entry and a nice lead in to a larger story. Thanks for sharing!

Scribbler to Scribe

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

oh.. I thought I already left a comment.. I think I'm losing my mind. lol.
Anyways, great work combing two blogfests :)
And yes, characters have to be real.


You certainly know all about blogfest, I thourougly enjoyed your post. I wish you well.

Have a wonderful week-end.


CA Heaven said...

Cool story. Beer should never be spilt, but in this case it might come something nice out of it >:)

Cold As Heaven

Hannah said...

Trust is very important! You have to follow your characters wherever they'll lead you. Great tips!

RaShelle Workman said...

Hi Summer - Very good question - Do you trust your character? Getting to the bottom of the answer I'm sure is part of what makes good novels great! Thanks!

Kelly Polark said...

YOu are the blogfest queen! :)
Great post. Trust, voice, and making the reader care about the character are key!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I really watch my character's reactions!

I heart comments~~ You all Rock my world!

Make your own