Karen Ashmore

All posts tagged Karen Ashmore

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

 

Between the Pages: Meet Karen Ashmore

Published October 24, 2014 by Ashley Townsend

Welcome to week three of the Between the Pages sneak peek at the inner workings of “Chasing Shadows.” Week four, an interview with a ridiculously cheeky and gorgeous Spanish lord, will be postponed for a week because I’ll be on vacation. I may or may not be able to post it next weekend after I get back, but no guarantees! I guess that means you’ll just have to imagine what a date with Damien Lisandro would be like. Heck, I think about it every day, myself. 😉

Check out today’s interview with Karen, the fiery-sweet redhead from “Chasing Shadows,” and keep up with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram via http://instagram.com/d_jeans86 during our trip (starting tomorrow!). We’re taking a copy of “Chasing Shadows” with us to do all sorts of nonsense and hilarity with the book. So follow all of these links to check out what sort of shenanigans we’ll be up to this week in Cali!

Meet your new book best-friend, Karen Ashmore from “Chasing Shadows”:

karen ashmore

So nice of you to pop by the future for this interview, Karen.

Whispers, “I appreciate you thinking of me.” Eyes dart uncertainly over the bright living room.

You look a little nervous.

“You never know who might have followed me to the future. It’s happened before, you know.”

I do remember. But you’re safe for now, and we’ll let you go back as soon as we’re finished here.

Relaxes. “Okay. I guess I have some time.”

Great! First question is if you have a special thinking place in Serimone?

“I spend a lot of time in the barn loft. It’s peaceful there.”

Aside from traveling through eras, what do you like to do in your spare time?

“I really enjoy reading. It’s not very easy to find books that are available to the lower classes in the twelfth century, so I have a bunch of modern books stashed away in the Joneses’ barn.”

Some people have compared the Jones family to the Weasleys from Harry Potter. I’ve never read the, but would you agree with this assessment?

Laughs. “That’s one of the series I brought with me, and every time I read a scene with them, I think of my ‘family.’ They took me in without a second thought and are sweet and hilarious in the way that they’re in each other’s business all the time. They’re also an incredibly loyal and tight-knit group.” Grins. “And Ruth Jones and Mrs. Weasley have a lot in common in the way that they both dote on guests. They’re the best thing about that era.”

Superpower of choice?

“Nope. No superpowers. I’ve realized that messing with nature as God intended gets sticky. I’ve dealt with the consequences of traveling through time, and I’d rather just be content with who I am and how God designed me.”

Wow. You truly are as wise as Sarah said. Okay, well then do you have a favorite color?

“Sunrise yellow. It always gives me hope for a new day, and Seth and I have enjoyed watching the sunrise together lately.” 

Speaking of which, what’s up with you and Seth?

Freezes for a split second before recovering. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Uh-huh. Right. Sure you don’t. Then what is your favorite pastime in Serimone?

“Making flower crowns.”

A-HA!

Slaps forehead.

It’s just that I understood that reference, folks, and you will too when you read Chasing Shadows. I just have to be honest, Karen, and say that you and Seth make such a cute couple.

Blushes. “What? You’re being ridiculous . . . Wait, did he say something about me?”

Getting back to the hard-hitting questions—

“Oh, come on—“

—What’s it like being a falsely accused witch on the lamb?

Sighs. “Okay, fine. Well, it can be a little stressful at times, and at first I found myself constantly looking over my shoulder. But I’ve taken a note from the Shadow and have learned to blend in. Plus, Gabriel Dunlivey was really the only one who took up that strange quest to find me, so with him gone, I don’t have much to worry about.”

… So, the Shadow. Do you know his identity? He did rescue you from being burned at the stake.

Smiles in admiration. “He’s a hero and one of the reasons why I’m alive today. The Shadow is also an inspiration to my cause against Cadius. But as to his true identity, no, I don’t know who he really is. And I’m not sure I want to; keeping his true name a secret seems important to him, and I wouldn’t want to burst his bubble of privacy.” Leans forward, grinning conspiratorially. “Besides, it’s kind of cool that a masked vigilante is protecting Serimone.”

*Sighs dreamily* Tell me about it.

“Well, I should probably get back. There’s no telling how much time has passed in Serimone while I’ve been here. And I’d hate to miss a very important upcoming event,” she sing-songs.

The wedding that Sarah mentioned? Oooh, won’t you tell us a little about it, Karen? Who’s the bride?

Jumps up from her chair with a small grin and a wave of farewell. “Sorry, I have to go.”

Wait! The fangirls need to know. I need to know who—

A flash of light and Karen is gone.

Blast! Well, I guess I’ll just have to quiz Damien Lisandro next time. Umm, I guess that’s it for today, guys. *Mutters to self* Time travelers are just so odd.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22545313-chasing-shadows

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/chasing-shadows-ashley-townsend/1120440724?ean=9781939156570

http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Shadows-Ashley-Townsend-ebook/dp/B00O6VCZVQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412559762&sr=8-1&keywords=chasing+shadows+townsend

Novel Inspiration: Characters

Published February 27, 2013 by Ashley Townsend

Here are a few of my selections from my Novel Inspiration board on Pinterest for the cast of Rising Shadows. Later on I’ll create a Novel Inspiration page on here, so check back periodically, because I might change some of the cast and keep adding new photos for your pleasure. There are plenty more where these came from, so check out my Pinterest link on the left to see what else has been floating around in my head. 😉 One of the perks to being an author is that I get to spend hours looking through pictures of gorgeous scenery–and people–on Pinterest and get to call it research! Remember that I love to hear from you! If you like what you saw or have some opinions of your own, shoot me an email at ashleytownsend.author@yahoo.com

Sarah Matthews:

This overall look. Heart-shaped face, blue eyes, arched brows, just a little tanner.

novel inspiration, Sarah blond

This girl’s wavy hair and color.

novel inspiration, Sarah

William Taylor:

Derek Theler is exactly how I imagined Will: chiseled jaw, 6’5, wavy hair (though Jason Behr’s color, on right), and great blue eyes. Oh, yeah, and he’s bult like a truck. That doesn’t hurt my image of Will.

novel inspiration, Will novel inspiration, Will hair

Karen Ashmore:

I thought this girl was just gorgeous and totally reminded me of Karen with her hair and fair skin, though her face is a little more round and babydoll-ish in my head. And she could seriously pass for Sarah, as well, with her blue eyes and face shape.

novel inspiration, Karen 2

Lilly Matthews:

Totally Sarah’s little sister! This is pretty much exactly how I pictured Lilly.

novel inspiration, Lilly

Seth Jones:

I could definitely picture Armie Hammer playing Seth, literally the boy next door. Armie is really funny and charming and friendly, and he has this great, easy grin that is 100% our favorite farm boy. A little more red in his hair, and ta-da! Seth Jones, ladies and gentlemen!

novel inspiration, Seth

Allan Miller:

Oh, yes, we love to hate him, people. Chris Pine has that same cocky edge that I imagined for Allan, Will’s not-so-faithful assistant.

novel inspiration, Allan

Thomas Greene:

He was probably one of my favorite back-story characters to write for Rising Shadows. After watching Tron:Legacy, I could definitely picture Bruce Boxleitner playing Thomas. He’s handsome, kind, has salt-and-pepper hair, and is a good enough actor to do Thomas justice.

novel inspiration, Thomas

Gabriel Dunlivey:

Blek, blek, and blek at that name! Not at all an insult to this guy, whose name I can’t recall at the moment, but he kind of reminds me of Gabriel, though this guy is less slovenly.

novel inspiration, Gabriel Dunlivey

And now for some characters you have yet to meet! Beware teensy spoilers!

Damien Lisandro:

Oh, you handsome devil, you! I saw this picture and actually changed Damien’s scruff so that it looked more like this. The Lord Lisandro completes my favorite type of triangle as old alliances fall away and new ones begin in the sequel to Rising Shadows. I had to throw in a Spaniard for my sister Katie, and I think you’ll really like him too!

novel inspiration, Damien

Jade:

Yep. Just Jade, as of now; I can’t reveal too much yet! She and Will have a past that is a bit of a mystery, and the scene involving her was inspired by Florence and the Machine’s “Heavy in Your Arms” (you all know how obsessed I was with that one!). But this younger version of Penelope Cruz is totally how I envisioned Jade.

novel inspiration, Jade

Mr. Emerald:

Will’s newest assistant. I’m trying to decide if the name I have for him will work in the book or if it needs to be altered.

novel inspiration, Todd

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