Tag-Archive for » With Proud Humility «

How to: Characterisation for With Proud Humility

My starting place for each fresh idea is always with the main character. To me it is the most important part of having a good book or film. If people don’t connect with the character and cannot relate to them, no matter how good the plot is, chances are the reader/viewer won’t enjoy the product. I’m not saying plot isn’t important though, it’s very important, but I’ve found time and time again the plot actually comes out of getting my head around my new characters. Knowing how they think and react moves the plot along in a believable way.

Recently I posted a blog of the character biography of the new books main character. Today I want to run through how I came up with Marie Woodell from my first book, With Proud Humility.

The first place I always start is how they look. I write this so that I am consistent when I talk about my character from the start of the book to the finish. So how tall is she, length and colour of hair, clothes she likes to wear/has to wear, age etc. In Marie’s case that was fairly simple. I already knew I wanted her to be a member of gentry, that makes most of this pretty easy. She needs to be single, so age has to be between 16-22 to be socially acceptable. Clothes would be whatever her status dictates, likewise with hair length. I arbitrarily assigned her height to be 5’7”.

Next I tried to decide her background. What had happened to her before the book starts. I decided I wanted her mother to be dead and to have been killed by the pirate who’s ship she starts on. This then lead to needing a reason why her mother was killed. Does Marie know why? What is her father like? Did he try too hard to protect his daughter after her mother died? Who is her father and what’s his status? Does this all fit nicely into some era in history? (as well as all the boring details of where she lives etc too)

Once her background is fully decided upon as well as the other influential people in her life I can start moulding her actual personality. Often certain big events in a person’s past have an influence on their character. For example I needed to know how Marie felt about her mother’s death. Did she want revenge, or did it scar her so badly she doesn’t now trust anyone, or possibly even both? How does she react to being raised just by her father?

At this point I also tend to decide the full name of the person. Often this can take several hours as I trawl through baby name databases trying to find names I like the sound of, as well as names that have meanings that I think work with everything else I’ve decided on so far. I confess in Marie’s case it was much simpler. My mother intended to call me Ann-Marie before I was born so my new character was being called Marie. In the case of Marie it was also her personality that led to the book’s title, With Proud Humility.

If I struggle to form the character as I did with Kaihaitu, I’ve found the best way to get through that and shape them is to essentially introduce someone else to them. Chrysalis kindly sat up late one night on Skype with me till I think about 2am in the morning, asking me question after question about Kaihaitu, similar to the questions above and I answered them, allowing her character to form in my attempt at explaining her to someone else.

Finally when I’m happy with all my questions and their answers I put it all together and move on to any characters I’ve discovered are likely to be a major role in the book, based on their relationships to my main character. Usually by the time I’ve done this my plot’s fairly well worked out too. Add in some conflict, some pain, some tears and voila most of the book prep is done.

For those that wish to know what I decided to the above questions though I urge you to check out the book (no spoilers here). There is now a 40% free sample on Smashwords and it’s on sale on Amazon at just over £2 per copy, that’s less than the price of a hot chocolate.

Geo-caching: A distraction

March seems to be flying by and with breaking the 30k words barrier on my new novel I have hardly done much else.

Last Saturday, however, my lovely in-laws came over, forcing me to take a much needed break. Their suggestion of what we could do was Geo-caching. I’d vaguely heard the word being thrown around but had no clue what it was and I imagine right at this point you’re wondering what on earth it is too. Well it’s most easily described as the modern version of a treasure hunt. Now that makes it sound infinitely cooler (I really think they could have given it a better name).

To keep it simple and short you go to the main website, type in the area you want to treasure hunt in and it gives you a bunch of caches in that area. You pick one, plug the coordinates in your gps device (mobile phone, sat nav etc) and then go walking until your little piece of technology tells you that you’re practically on top of it. You then search the nearby area for some hidden box of some kind. The boxes vary in size from a tiny object nothing will fit in, to larger lunch box sized containers that people leave ‘treasures’ in for others. At this point you get to write your name in the log book and take something out, as long as you put something in of greater or equal value. When you are finally back to the safety of your house and your adventure is over, you go back to the website and log what you’ve found, what you added and what you took from the cache (If anything). Nice, simple and outdoorsey

If you wish there are also extras and variations of this basic idea. Some caches have what’s called a travel bug in it. These are seperatly packaged dog tagged things that each have their own mission. Some will wish to be put in every cache in a country, others to simply go to as many countries as possible etc. If you take these to move them on it needs to be done quickly and needs to be logged on the website, that it’s in your possession, and where you then put it.

There are also puzzle caches that require you to solve a puzzle to get the next location and then the next etc, until you finally find the cache at the end location. With multicaches being a similar variant of these with clues instead of puzzles.

Needless to say, I loved the idea. I love walking, countryside, puzzles and most of all feeling like an old fashion pirate hunting for treasure (well I do write historical fiction, check out With Proud Humility for evidence of my love for treasure hunting). You can imagine how much I grinned when the first thing I saw in my first cache was a toy Jessie from the Toy Story trilogy. I can see myself getting very very distracted by this passtime, especially as there are just under 1000 caches within a 10 mile radius of my house.

If you like the sound of this and want to check it out you can here, who knows, maybe I’ll see you out there, searching around tree stumps and mountain tops for random objects half the world doesn’t even know exists.

Done, finally.

Welcome to my new website and blog. Take a look around and check out all the many different things I do.

If you are reading this than I have only just finished putting all this together with the help of the very lovely website designer Keith Mountifield. If you like the site and want to know where you can get something as lovely yourself you can ask him to quote you here.

If you like what you see here and want to get stuck right in to reading something I’ve written you can find the first 40% of my book, With Proud Humility, free here.

Finishing the plugging there, I hope you enjoy my blogging and let me know how you managed to find me by either commenting here or contacting me through my twitter or facebook pages linked in the about me section.