Fantasy

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Part 5: Creating Memorable Characters

Published March 5, 2016 by Ashley Townsend

Writing is an Art, I Tell You!

Part 5: Creating Memorable Characters

Aside from the questions I ranted about the other week, one of the most common things an author gets asked is, “How do you come up with your characters, and how do you handle them once they’re created?” *cracks knuckles* Step aside, Stephen King, because I’ll answer this one! (mostly because I’m sure he has a very different answer that doesn’t involve gifs and memes—so blah!)

as you wish

Characters can emerge from absolutely nothing, kind of like that Twilight Zone place in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (I think that’s the one?), where your thoughts create creatures out of the darkness and mist. Getting an idea for a character is the easy part—anything inspires me! But understanding them and knowing their purpose in your story is a completely different concept. This is the tricky part that can trip-up even the most seasoned author, because until a character becomes real to you, you’ll never break the surface of who they are and can misinterpret their reactions along the way. As a reader, this is just plain confusing. 

who are you

Before you create a character, you need to keep in mind that it helps to have different “purposes” assigned to each one—the steady tree, the flighty rocket, ultimate villain, perfect protagonist, sympathetic antagonist—and keep this design in mind to make sure they don’t deviate from their design too much.

You can do this fairly easily by asking yourself a few questions:

-What is their purpose in the story? Hero, villain, martyr?

-Are you supposed to sympathize with them, feel distant from their pain, or feel

          angry whenever they enter a scene?

-Will they have a change of heart, or should they remain steady throughout the journey?

Sarah, Will, and the gang began as simple concepts—a girl from the future, a vigilante with a broken past, the loving family next door, the steady best friend, etc.—and these general ideas worked as a starting point for their growth. Knowing where Sarah was from helped me to imagine how I might react to things a thousand years in the past, seeing everything in a different world for the first time, trying to blend in; because of Will’s history, I knew that he would be protective of those he cares for and more guarded, rejecting love when it’s what he needs the most. You will be amazed at how much growth your characters will take on, all on their own, when you give them a gentle nudge along the path they’re supposed to stay on. And be careful that you don’t fall in the trap of the “campy” character, where they’re always happy go-lucky and never seem to struggle with anything. Readers will always identify more with someone with human doubts and struggles and emotions who overcomes adversity—because that is relatable and hopeful—rather than a character who smiles and dances all. The. Bloody. Time. -_- Nobody can identify with this every day:

happy dance

Now that we’ve established how to create your characters, and also to steer clear of making a dull, one-dimensional protagonist, you have to remember that it’s important to become acquainted with them, too. Go for a walk and imagine conversations your characters might strike up because of something you see, or think about how they might react to a situation in your own life. It sounds strange to listen in on imaginary conversations between fictional beings, but it makes them feel more natural and real to me to follow them throughout the day. Making this a practice honestly helps the writing process, because you’re becoming more and more familiar with them each second you spend with your characters, and this attention to detail will really benefit your novel.

You also have to understand and be accepting of the fact that characters can evolve, and it’s your job to know how to handle them once they decide to move away from your perfect little personality mold. It might sound like a contradiction, but I can explain, I promise! Take Damien Lisandro, for instance: he was originally Lord Bormeo, a tall, thin, middle-aged man with a hawkish nose and absolutely no charm.

bored.gif

While writing Chasing Shadows, I realized that, although his character’s purpose was necessary to the story, he was not. So, I took the general concept of him and the way he aided the plot and turned him into Damien, the dashing, blush-inducing Spaniard who plays a huge role in Sarah’s investigation at the castle . . . and a large role in why I giggled so much while writing his scenes. Also, I may or may not have fallen in love with him a tiny.

in love mcgarrett

I will never regret making that choice to change, not a character’s role in the story, but some of his traits to make him more appealing to readers and *cough* myself. The A-typical protagonist or villain or antagonist can be so boring, and you shouldn’t be afraid to do some rewriting where your characters are concerned so long as they don’t deviate from their purpose. Make sense?  

So, that’s it! There’s plenty more that goes into creating characters, but these are the basic concepts I follow when whipping up a new bloke or lady in my stories. The best piece of advice I can give for you aspiring writers out there is to know who your characters are, but that also comes from knowing who you are as a writer. Be bold and confident, and let your own passion play out through strong-willed characters who stand outside the box. Nobody likes reading about vanilla!

captain jack sparrow vanilla

 

#FanArtFriday Round 4!

Published October 30, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

What’s this? Fan Art Friday on a Friday?!!!! Imagine that. ^_~ So this is the last Friday of Chasing Shadows‘ birth month, where we celebrated a year of reading by giving away copies of Chasing Shadows, swag, gift cards, plenty of fan art, and also new pieces of art created for Defying Shadows that I released every week. This next piece of art was designed specifically to torture you guys, but I have a couple things to cover before I get into the gorgeousness that has been created for the final “official” Fan Art Friday. But fret not, dear Hooders! There will be more agony and tempting teasers to come, especially since four Fridays of fan art is certainly not enough for my liking. 😉

The winners of the Chasing Shadows 1-Year Celebration all received their packages–yay!–and posted pics of their prizes on Twitter. I hope you enjoy the series, ladies! #TeamHood

fan 1 fan 2Also, my good friend and award-winning author (and dancer!) Nadine Brandes recently released her second book in her Out of Time series, a Christian dystopian trilogy that is absolutely incredible. A Time to Speak is amazing, moving, and all around a fantastic ride. You can order your copy on Amazon here, and if you haven’t yet read A Time to Die, you can find it here. Keep an eye out for my name in the acknowledgements page on Book I; yes, I did get to read these books before anyone else, and let me tell you, they were just as powerful and entertaining the second and third time around. You won’t want to miss them!

And some of you know that I got to work directly with Roan Carter on the cover of Chasing Shadows, which was amazing to be able to have total creative control of a project that meant so much to me. But yesterday, I had the pleasure of literally getting hands-on training in the creative process of cover designing by Lisa M., also known as the Elegant Stylus on Facebook and Etsy. I always imagined that artists spent all their time immersed in creative projects in little elvish caves far below ground, with candles for mood lighting and dramatic music echoing through their little hovel of creativity. Not so. We spent the afternoon with our feet propped up on the ottoman, munching on snacks while we researched fonts and played around with images and lighting and fangirled over our little project. It was the best crash-course in designing ever! Lisa is currently in the process of making me drool and giggle and squeal every five minutes with her designs for the cover of Defying Shadows. You’re going to be blown away!

And, finally, today’s Fan Art Friday reveal:

Timeless loveCare for another little teaser? How about a quote between booooop and booooop that shortly follows this scene (I can’t tell you who’s involved in the conversation–that would be cheating!). 

“No, not goodbye. It will never be goodbye between us.”

“What then?” she asked, voice catching. “How are we supposed to do this?”

He smiled softly, though his eyes filled with tears. She felt the band tighten painfully around her heart at the thought that this would be the last time she ever looked into those eyes or felt his hand on her cheek. Inhaling a shuddering breath, he whispered, “I shall see you in my dreams.”

Only 3 Days Left to Enter!

Published October 13, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

There are only 3 days left to enter the Chasing Shadows Rafflecopter Giveaway and earn entries for the social media prizes! (enter here) I’ve never done a Rafflecopter before, and so I was amazed at how many of you entered. I was also seriously flummoxed (word of the day that I’m pretty sure I’m using improperly–thanks, Dictionary app! ^_^) and excited over how much attention #TeamHood and #ChasingShadowsBook are getting on Pinterest and Twitter. You guys are seriously the best!  Mwah! Keep entering the Rafflecopter to win the Grand Prize and share the link around for your friends to enter, too.

You can use the tweets below during the week until this Friday, Oct 16th, at 11:59pm (PST) to spread word about the grand prize giveaway. Each tweet, share, and mention that leads back to me containing #TeamHood earns you one entry toward the 2 social media prizes (gift cards, books, ebooks, book swag, and more!). So keep sharing and entering the Rafflecopter until Friday, and stop by this weekend to see if your name is announced as one of 3 winners for the Chasing Shadows 1-Year Celebration!

RT! Enter to   &       

swag

RT! Ends 10-16. Enter below to win:       

RT to earn entries into the @TownsendTales

Ends Oct 16! Use & enter to win free @TownsendTales

Are You Ready to Rumblllleeee?

Published October 4, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

The Chasing Shadows 1-Year Celebration giveaway and party will begin in just a few minutes!

Dean O'Gorman in The Almighty Johnsons |   His face is like, "Food you say?" Lolololololo! That's my face half the time. literally. Lolololol!

I know, it’s pretty exciting. Gift cards and free books and questions and excerpts and fan art and just–BAH! So grab a coffee, strap yourself in, and get your fingers ready for some serious giveaway/reading/not so spoily spoiler fun!

I’m guessing I’ll see you back here in a few minutes.

to make me feel better when i'm having a bad day. Eye of the Tiger, baby! haha! #BestGIFEver

Giveaway? Why, yes, please!

Published September 22, 2015 by Ashley Townsend

The best part of my birthday being a week from Saturday is that I know the next day (Oct 4) Chasing Shadows turns 1-year-old!
wait

excited

Make sure to stop by here, Twitter, my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ashleytownsend.author) over the next week and a half for updates on the 1 Year Palooza Celebration I’ll be having that Sunday (again, Oct 4–PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDARS!!!), where you might just win free copies of Chasing Shadows and swag and ebooks and special glimpses Defying Shadows that NO ONE has seen yet and *sucks in a deep breath* a secret behind the scenes message from me and bonus goodies and so much more!

what

Also, there are prizes (and a grand prize) for my team of Hooders who help to promote the event on social media and their blogs (I can keep track when you share my blog posts, but if you do a fresh post yourself, be sure to email the link to me at ashleytownsend.author@yahoo.com so you get credit). Starting today, earn brownie points by retweeting my posts about the event that have #TeamHood on them, tagging me on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (@TownsendTales) and using #‎ChasingShadowsBook‬ ‪#‎CSBook‬ #TeamHood (especially this one, because it’s adorable) to spread the word about the giveaways and celebration on the 4th. Each time you share/retweet, tag me, and use these hashtags, it’ll earn you one more entry into the social media contest. There are 2 social media prizes (grand and a runner-up, both randomly selected, so having those extra entries helps) and also a prize for the giveaway I’ll be doing on Chasing Shadows’ birthday. You’ll have all the details, prize packages, and contest rules on Thursday, so stay tuned! Winners will be announce Friday, October 9, 2015.
Or if you’re an impatient book lover like me and just need it now, I also pasted the Amazon link to CS below. You’re welcome in advance. ^_~

New Book Trailer Released!

Published November 11, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

I’m super excited to announce that not only have I launched an official website for “Chasing Shadows,” which I mentioned in my previous post, but the book trailers for both “Chasing Shadows” and it’s adorable predecessor “Rising Shadows” just came out. *Squeal of delight* I’d love for you to view, like, share, subscribe, or leave a comment to support the series. ^_^

You can find the trailers on YouTube via Double Decker Books, on the official “Chasing Shadows” launch page, and all over Goodreads! As always, don’t forget to add the books on Goodreads and find them on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. 

Thanks, all, for your support of this series and my endeavors to reach as many people as possible with characters that I believe God is going to use to encourage and touch the lives of many. These characters have already changed my life! And if you have any stories about how reading has impacted your own life in some way, please write to me at ashleytownsend.author@yahoo.com  

Youtube:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC90HuGRNZPWlM5Vwb2SW4Uw

Website: https://booklaunch.io/townsendtales/545d6bf6a62bd3941dcfdfe0

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5839773.Ashley_Townsend

 Trailer for Chasing Shadows

Trailer for Rising Shadows

Between the Pages: Meet Damien Lisandro

Published November 8, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Between the Pages: Meet Damien Lisandro

Damien Lisandro 3

Today I am more than happy to introduce you to your foreign fantasy crush, Damien Lisandro from “Chasing Shadows.” I’m at the castle right now, of course—who wouldn’t like to take a little side trip to the twelfth century if the opportunity presented itself? I plan to interview Damien in a moment, but I just spotted the would-be murderer Cadius and have decided to go all “reporter” on him. Maybe I can get him to reveal his plans and help Karen and Sarah out!

Excuse me, Cadius, but do you have a minute for some questions?

Eyes me up and down with cold, barely concealed disdain. “I suppose I have a moment.” With a faint flick of his wrist, the servant he was reprimanding scurries off. “What is it?”

I wanted to ask you how you felt about all the suspicion surrounding your brother the king’s death?

Feigns innocence. “Suspicion? I haven’t the faintest…”

Well, uh (gosh, he really has creepy eyes), then what about the death of the original queen, Alexis? Do you have anything to say about that?

Eyes soften almost imperceptibly. “That was a long time ago.”

(Hmm. Interesting reaction). Okay, I’m just going to come out and say it. You must be aware that people think you killed your brother, and others are suspicious that you might have done the same to the first queen. . . . Seriously? No reaction?

Blinks. “The peasants may believe what they wish, but wise lords and ladies know to keep their uneducated suppositions to themselves. And little doves who know not of what they speak should learn to mind their elders, lest harm should come to them.”

…. *swallows* Okaaaay. That sounds like a threat to me.

Chuckles lowly. “Oh, my dear, I never dirty my hands. Fear not. What other inquiries would you care to make?”

*Squeaks out lamely* Um, do you have a favorite color?

“Blood red.”

*Eyes widen* That’s nice! Well, then the last thing I’d like to ask is about the king. What—

Takes a step forward. “Do you know what happens to little doves who ask too many questions?”

*Already booking it down the hall at a clipped pace* 

Okay, new plan! We’re now hanging out with Damien Lisandro at an undisclosed coffee house somewhere in present day North America. Damien! How kind of you to join us.

Grins saucily. “Well, you did grab me from my room and beg me to speak with you. How could I refuse such a request?” Eyes his surroundings. “And what interesting décor in this study.”

Uh, yeah. Very interesting. So . . . Wow, you really do have gold flecks in your eyes.

Leans forward, expression cheeky. “It’s your beauty reflected in them, my lady.” 

*barely contains giggles* Whatever you say. Um, now back to the interview. Can you tell us a little about your background and interests?

“Oh, well, I was raised as the son of a wealthy tradesman, had a loving mother and a sister whom I adored. My life was quite grand.”

Was?

Uncomfortable, he takes a sip of his cappuccino. “Mm, that’s quite good. Well, you see, my father accidentally beat my mother to death one night in a drunken stupor, and my sister Isabella died shortly after we fled from my father.” His smile is wobbly. “Next question, please.”

*Winces* Sorry. Favorite color?

“I have seen so much royal purple since I took up residence at the castle that it has grown on me.” Smiles softly at the wooden table. “And Sarah looks lovely in purple.”

So are you and Will going to duke it out for her, or what? How does that work?

“I’m in no rush to win her heart, but in the end, I will earn her affection.”

You’re a rather confident fellow. Okay, well, I know you grew up in Spain, but how do you like being a lord in Serimone?

“I suppose it has its advantages.” Scratches the perfectly sculpted hair on his chin. “However, living inside the castle walls and being so closely watched has its disadvantages, as well.”

But surely having so much wealth and being well known has its perks.

“Yet everyone is always watching my moves or planning them for me. That is one of the reasons why I sought out the company of Lady Sarah; she made me feel normal—no expectations or preferential treatment because of my station. Being with her gives me something to hope and live for outside of myself—she makes me want to be good.” Grins self-consciously. “But that sounds ridiculous, I’m sure.”

…. People, I just died a little from swooning. But you keep distracting me, you beautiful creature! Back to my questions: You get toxic waste spilled all over you and now have your choice of superpowers. You would pick…?

“To know all. I would never have to question anyone again.”

Does mistrust happen a lot in your field of, uh, lording?

“I’ve dealt with my fair share of betrayals. Everyone wears a mask, as I told Sarah once, and you never can tell whom to trust.” 

Sounds lonely.

“Yes, it can be, but there are many activities and events with which to keep my mind occupied.”

Speaking of which, I’ve been drilling everyone who stops by about a certain future event in Serimone. Are there any upcoming weddings that you know of? Anyone in particular?

Grins charmingly, eyes bright. “Are you proposing? Because then I most heartily accept!”

*Laughs* No! I . . . Well, actually, let me consider it. I’ll get back to you in, ohhh, say a thousand years?

Looks confused. “What?”

Don’t worry; it won’t feel long at all. And that, folks, is the beauty of time travel.

“Time travel? You mean you can—“

No! What? No! *laughs* Of course not, you handsome devil. I was just making a joke. *whispers* But, uh, if you could put that blindfold back on while I drive you home, that would makes things go a lot smoother for the both of us.

 

 

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