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Have you ever considered writing your own book? Or have you wondered how authors manage to create the characters we love? I’ve invited DiAnn Mills (who does a marvelous job with her characters!) to share some “insider information” with us today. Whether you’re interested in improving your own writing or curious about the thought behind these characters, you’re in for a treat! (Plus, you can see DiAnn’s characters in action in her brand new novel, High Treason!)
10 Ways to Show Character Growth and Change
*A guest post by DiAnn Mills*
Suspense and thriller novels are filled with gripping action that propels toward an unpredictable climax. Readers enjoy the breathless moments, the ticking clock, and the race to end a crime or prevent one.
Writers create their stories with the idea of building anxiety and uncertainty of what’s to happen. But what a reader loves is watching a favorite character transform into a stronger person. Especially the character who has shown heroic traits while overcoming a psychological issue. And those mental stalkings can be anything from guilt, shame, anger, regret, loneliness, lack of confidence, and a host of other issues.
The key word here is “heart” because that’s where reconstruction of the soul takes place. When a protagonist slams against a wall, either literally or psychologically, the rebuilding of the inner person takes place through action and reactions. The physical goal is impossible to reach without the character first overcoming the monster within.
The process demands writers spin out of the tell zone and zoom into the show zone. So what are ways we writers can show our characters have moved up a notch in the world of morals or spiritual growth? Here are ten suggestions that will help rend that character even more dear to your reader.
Show a real character
Assign the character credible strengths and weaknesses, goals and flaws, personality and quirks. A hero or heroine must leap tall buildings in a single bound—and also leap from the page with unusual traits that excite the reader. We are all three-dimensional creatures who experience life with a variety of external and internal actions and reactions.
Show a character with a vital goal or problem. Embark the character on a journey to reach an objective. The goal or problem must be one that only your character can solve. Have him make a commitment to see the critical situation to the end, forcing him to learn new and difficult skills.
Show a character facing his worst fear. Your character can’t change and grow into a better person until he has a grip on what internally stalks him. He may know his internal problem or he may not, but by the end of the story, he must name the fear and make a decision to overcome it.
Show the character making tough choices. Our characters need to experience the consequences of their actions, either right or wrong. Right is a reward and often boring. Wrong is a surge of excitement for the reader. Force the character to choose between two rights or better yet between two wrongs.
Show the character losing something. The character has something valuable in his possession, and he may not realize it until it’s too late. This item is critical to his physical goal and is woven in his internal needs. He must have it or everything explodes into chaos.
Show the character in a stunning victory. The character works hard at obtaining something, then take it away. Better yet, toss him into a waterhole filled with hungry crocodiles. How does he react and respond to the loss and the danger facing him?
Show the character failing. Have the character run down false leads and realize a red herring then internalize his error. How does the reversal affect him?
Show the character’s emotions. The character needs to experience all seven of the universal emotions: anger, fear, sadness, surprise, happiness, disgust, contempt Tonya Reiman – http://www.tonyareiman.com/ His emotions are uniquely his: unpredictable and believable.
Show the character’s wants/needs in dialogue. When we desire something, it occupies our thoughts and words. Ensure the character’s dialogue is ambiguous of what he truly needs.
Show the character with symbols. The character attaches emotional qualities to tangible item(s). How do those items build him up or tear him down?
Character growth and change is not the same for every character in your story. Some protagonists and antagonists will stay the same from the beginning of the story until the end. A character might worsen, as in an antagonist. But for the hero or heroine, the internal transformation must be clear and shown in ways that the reader has no doubt what has occurred.
How do you show heroic qualities in your characters?
More about DiAnn:
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Mountainside Marketing Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.
DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.
DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook: www.facebook.com/diannmills, Twitter: https://twitter.com/diannmills or any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.
High Treason Giveaway:
When Saudi Prince Omar bin Talal visits Houston to seek cancer treatment for his mother, an attempt on his life puts all agencies on high alert. FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson is the lead on the prince’s protective detail because of their long-standing friendship, but he’s surprised—and none too happy—when the CIA brings one of their operatives, Monica Alden, in on the task force after the assassination attempt.
Kord and Monica must quickly put aside interagency squabbles, however, when they learn the prince has additional motives for his visit—plans to promote stronger ties with the US and encourage economic growth and westernization in his own country. Plans that could easily incite a number of suspects both in the US and in countries hostile to Saudi Arabia. Worse yet, the would-be assassin always seems to be one step ahead of them, implicating someone close to the prince—or the investigation. But who would be willing to commit high treason, and can Kord and Monica stop them in time?
Anxious to see how this works for DiAnn’s characters? She has generously offered to give away a copy of her newest novel, High Treason (winner’s choice of paperback or e-copy). Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.