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?