The workshop I want to share about today was presented by Mike Dellosso. He is a Christian thriller/suspense writer. He did a workshop on creating characters.
Mike said that creating authentic characters is important because the characters are the reason readers keep reading. He said the antagonist should be someone the reader can identify with and can connect with. The antagonist should also be someone the reader loves to hate but also has a connection with and, on a certain level, feels sorry for.
Mike said that giving characters heart and soul requires drawing much from your own experiences and using your desires, fears, etc.
It’s important to give your character something to fight for. i.e.: Internal — self-worth, sanity, etc. or external — marriage, family, etc.
Mike explained POV (point of view): First person — me telling the story — “I” (he suggested that this is the hardest to write); Second person — “You” (this is rare in fiction); and third person — “He said/she said”. Third person limited — narrator telling from the narrator’s point of view (no thoughts, emotions, etc.), everything is base strictly on sight. Third person omniscient — God View — can see inside the character’s head, heart and emotions — seeing inside the total person. Deep third person is like first person but written as third using he or she instead of I but you are the main character. Also, in deep third person you need to show who the speaker is through actions as much as possible (movement, body language).
POV “rules”: One POV character per scene/chapter — no head hopping! Stick to the POV! The POV character never describes himself/herself unless he/she is looking at their reflection in a mirror or pool, unless they are getting dressed. The POV character is the one whose five senses plus thinking/feeling — internal, the scene/chapter is focused on . You cannot go into another character’s thoughts and senses.
Learn to observe people and take mental or real notes.
Describe enough of the character’s physical features so the reader can get a mental image but don’t overdo it. Keep it minimal. Describe females a little more than males because females show more variability in their looks than males.
Show action. People move in real life: body language, facial expressions, scratching, etc.
For dialogue learn to listen to people and take mental or real notes. Listen to the way people talk and how conversation flows. Long monologues are not normal. It’s a lot of back and forth. Characters should sound different because they have different personalities: a favorite word or phrase, accent, vocabulary, speed of speech. Make their words count.
If you kill a character, someone needs to care, and it should either be the reader (preferably) or a character in the story, or both.
Bad guys can be redeemed at the end as long as it’s plausible enough that the reader will buy it.
Don’t use words if you don’t know what they mean.
Research whatever you don’t know; enough to get the idea and to make it authentic to your readers.
In addition to Mike’s workshop, I had signed up to have a one-on-one 15 minute session with Mike because I wanted to know a little more about writing suspense stories and because I had questions about POV. (I had my one-on-one with Mike before his workshop). He was very helpful in tips and advice he offered and he was very encouraging. I enjoyed meeting Mike and having the opportunity to discuss writing with him.
Mike Dellosso currently has seven books published: six suspense/thriller books and one under the pseudonym Michael King. He had six out of the seven books available in the conference books store. Mike also has a great website. Check out: http://mikedellosso.com/