Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Do You Juice?

A little over a year ago, I got a juicer for Christmas. I was so excited and determined to get healthy and start juicing every day. Until I made my first juice. It was awful. I don’t remember now what I put in it, but I couldn’t drink it. Disappointed, the machine sat on the counter unused for another six months.
            Then last summer, my husband told me that a friend of his had started juicing. I was skeptical. Our friend is a guy who doesn’t eat fruit and vegetables and he was enjoying juicing? I looked at my juicer, wondering what I’d missed and feeling guilty over not using it. I decided to try juicing one more time. I asked around for recipes and made my second attempt.    
            The result? I loved it and have been juicing ever since.
            So what does this have to do with books and writing?
            This morning, while I was preparing a huge bowl full of grapes to freeze for my own juicing, I couldn’t help but wonder if Meghan—the heroine of the book I just started writing—is into juicing?
            You see, I started working on a new manuscript this week. It’s a romantic suspense set in South Africa for Love Inspired Suspense. I’m really excited about this story, but I realized that I don’t know my characters very well. Yes, I know Meghan’s basic back story, where she comes from, and her immediate goals, but not her likes and dislikes, and the things that make her quirky, fun, and unique.             
            When I juice, I add the ingredients to get it just right; beets, carrots, greens, ginger, oranges, grapes, and apples. If I put in too much or too little of any one ingredient, the final product won't taste the way I like it, and I’m likely to give up on juicing like I did the first time. It’s the same with our characters. If your characterization is missing something and reads more like a cardboard character, readers are going to stop reading.
            With my juice, I enjoy the balance of the earthy beet root, the sweet fragrance of the orange, and the tangy ginger. The same balance needs to be true for my heroine. The more I can discover her likes and dislikes, her dreams and fears, the more balanced her character, and the more the reader will connect with her.
            What does she do for fun? What is she afraid of? What does she wear on a lazy Saturday afternoon? Do she have a prized possession? Closet friend, favorite song, best friend. . .Adding these details throughout the story will help me bring Meghan’s character to life.
            To get your creative juices going:
            If you’re a writer, how do you get to know your characters? Do you interview them up front with a list of questions or get to know them as you write your story?
            Readers, share a memorable character from a book that stands out because the author’s use of characterization is so rich?

Visit Lisa's website to learn more about her books and life in Africa. Watch for Stolen Identity from Love Inspired Suspense, coming June 2013, and a brand new romantic suspense series debuting from Revel this fall.


  1. Funny that you should post about juicing, because I just read another writer's blog and that's what she was blogging about :) I think for me, I get to know my characters better as I write the first draft, so editing is an important step :)

  2. I only really get to know my characters after I revise and they virtually jump at me saying, "uh-huh, I wouldn't say that." (Or think like that or act like that.) Maybe because I've had plenty of time to mull over them they flesh out.

    Carrot and apple n ginger is my favourite juice.

  3. LOL! Juicing again. I have just gone back to a series I did a while back on RiseandSoar.com about juicing, and started to add some posts on juicing to get veggies and fruit into the kids! I love the analogy to writing, Lisa. Brilliant!

  4. Thanks for your comments, ladies! I definitely get to know my characters as I write, but another thing that hit me while reading Shirs post is that it whenever I get 'stuck' understanding my characters, all it takes is some mundane work like dishes or juicing and things start flowing again.

  5. Oh Lisa! Just the thought is enough to get the creative juices flowing! LOL!

  6. Im not sure about the question but a resent book I loved and really loved the heroine and her character, loved her grit and learning why she was the way she was. She utters a statement I Refuse which her sisters had come up with. It had more to the statement about refusing to be defined by the beatings they received and refusing to give in to them or to be broken. (paraphrased). I found myself yesterday saying I Refuse! and thought instantly of the book and what a great saying it is. I refuse to let my wrist get me down. I refuse to give in and not fight to get it healed. I just felt good to say and I think its a great saying for other things. Like I refuse to let negative people bring me down.

  7. Love this example, Jenny. That is what we are looking for. A character who connects with you and makes an impact in some way on your life. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Lisa, great post! I learn a lot about my characters as I write the first draft, and they often surprise me :) All those little details can be used in powerful ways to deepen the characterization. I love fruit smoothies, and I'm not so keen on adding vegetables.

  9. I love the discovery part as well. Just found out my hero has three sisters. :-) As for juicing, we love the fruit smoothies as well and usually have one for breakfast most mornings. Papaya, passion fruit, bananas, oranges, yogurt, and flax seed flour. Yum!