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How Much Character Do You Put On? By Traci Kenworth

How Much Character Do You Put On?

Traci Kenworth

In the world of beauty, we’re always concerned about what we are or aren’t putting on our faces. The goal is to improve on them, of course. Just like, if you think about it, our characters in our stories. So, how much character do you put on when it comes to your stories? By which, I mean, how true or authentic to themselves do you work to make each character?

Take an old lady. Easy character, right? Pruned skin. Cane to bend to her will. Ah, but how many other disabled these days carry canes? I do. And I’m fifty-five going on fifty-six. Mine is for my progressive neuropathy but also my fall risk. Sometimes my legs just want to buckle under me.

Not exactly the old lady you had in mind, huh? What would make her so for you? Gray hair? Blue-rinsed, white hair? Knobby knees? A pack of cats? A granny sweater? Eyeglasses on a chain? Add up the little details that make the whole. And each character is different. No two of us see the same old lady.

That’s how characters and people are. The truth comes in who we make them. What we pull into their makeup. We can make them rigid, aggravated, or complete bores. Think of a bully in high school. Most would think of guys. I knew some of those but mostly, my high school world was made up of female bullies.

I think that’s why I have a bit of hesitancy relating to my peers. Because so many of them were just ghastly to me. I had overweight girls try and keep me locked out of the school doors in the morning. And skinny ones spitting wads of paper at me in class. I’ve had senior girls tell me that I couldn’t use a certain door, or else. I’ve had girls younger than me harass me with ex guys that used to like me. Like I said, the role of bully is in the eye of the beholder.

Just like a mother. Some of us grew up with mothers who didn’t work outside the home. Some of us didn’t. I’d bet that on both sides of those coins, neither mom looked nor acted alike. Take their manner of clothing. They could’ve wore mostly skirts and dresses. Or pants. And there’s loads of combos in either of those sets. Some liked cotton. Some silk. Different patterns. Thickness. Accessories. The list goes on.

And fathers are more than just the standard ties that are advertised on TV sets. My dad never wore a tie. Even to funerals. He drove trucks. Worked in factories. Plastered ceilings of houses and buildings such as churches like the Mormon Church down in Kirtland, OH. He went fishing and hunting. Other dads did that too but not all. I’m sure there are more differences between our dads.

The point is: all characters come in different shapes and sizes. No two are alike. Pick any two books. No protagonist is like another. No matter the genre, no matter the similarity in the story. There is always something, some detail, that makes each unique to themselves. Katniss and Aelin. Two strong fighters in their different worlds. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. Their heart and their truths. Their sins and their mistakes.

The cost of each character’s life is their own. But on the battlefield, they’re formidable. They know their opponents well and use every advantage they have against them. It’s never just a game to them. That’s how you create a story. You put a character on the field an audience can cheer for despite the odds. They make be just another serial killer but it’s the mold of that killer that makes him/her spring to life.

Know your character. The details that go into them. Their background. Their struggles. Triumphs. Everything blends together into the mix. They are the whole of that being. Do your homework. So, how much character do you put on?

Happenings: Happy 2023! The last year ended with a fizzle for us but hopefully, it jump-boarded us into a new opportunity for my family. Prayers and fingers crossed. Our electricity ended up going out the night before Christmas Eve with the big blizzard rolling in. We didn’t get a lot of snow, thank God. Because I still had to get my kids back and forth to work those days. We were out of electricity until the afternoon of the next day. We lost our water as well. That was out until a few days before the new year. Yes, I kid you not. And the place where I live, the landlords blamed the tenants for it being off. They said we didn’t replace the heat tape like we were told. We bought our new home and the heat tape they put in was good for three years. So them blaming us was just, there are no words. They claimed the tenants pulled the park employees away from their families and holidays and ruined them for them. You couldn’t find an employee in this park even this week. You know how they fixed the water situation? They let the water pipes thaw. Yeah. Real effort on their part. So, we heard about a nice piece of land and we’re hoping to buy and get out of here in 2024 when our contract to keep this house here expires in Sept. I have never liked landlords. They are devious in my opinion. At least, the ones I’ve run across. That being said, I know people who are landlords and I believe they treat their tenants better. Life is hard. Why make it harder by being an a**hole to people?

Here are some links around the web you might like:

  1. Writers Helping Writers https://writershelpingwriters.net/2023/01/force-your-character-to-make-hard-choices/ One of the best things about conflict is that it pushes your characters to act. In every scene, your characters are making choices—big ones and small ones, and thereby steering their fate. Some decisions will be obvious and require little to no thought, but others will be muddier, with no clear “better” option, generating inner conflict. These choices, provided the characters feel personally invested in the decision, act as a test, revealing who they are. Finding ways to naturally characterize our characters is gold in storytelling, so making the most of a character’s decisions is a wise move. But when we make choices a bit more complex, they go beyond black-and-white options, which creates tension and potentially painful consequences. Hm. Working with two fears or two needs. Sounds delightful.
  2. Marcia Meara Writes https://marciamearawrites.com/2023/01/03/forgottenwords-doyouremember/ Interesting series!
  3. Syl’s 65 blog https://syl65.wordpress.com/2023/01/03/surging-forward/
  4. Writers Helping Writers https://writershelpingwriters.net/2023/01/5-reasons-why-its-still-a-good-idea-for-writers-to-have-a-blog/ It’s 2023. Should writers have a blog? It’s been the subject of debate for several years now. There was a time when, if you intended to publish and sell books, you were expected to write a blog too. But it’s not so clear-cut today. There are a lot of ways to communicate with your potential readers, and blogging is only one of them. Here are five reasons why I think it’s still one of the best. I think a blog is an important outreach to your readers. It helps you to get to know them and they, to know you. I’m finding more confidence in my writing nowadays and I believe part of that comes from this blog. I know I can express myself and get my point across to others. I feel at home here, like I’m talking to old friends.
  5. Life in the Realm of Fantasy https://conniejjasperson.com/2023/01/04/the-business-side-of-the-business-finding-places-to-submit-your-work-amwriting/ Today, we’re going to explore the various forms of short fiction publishers are looking for and how the market drives what they will buy. Each publication only buys work they think will appeal to their readers, and each serves a different segment of the reading public. We are looking for markets that will pay you for your work. They are difficult to get into, but once you are in, you will be offered more opportunities. If you are writing science fiction, you most likely dream of having your work published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. They are seeking work that is strictly science-based, because that is what their readers expect. You might also want to submit to Uncanny, as they publish both sci-fi and fantasy. Their readers are more eclectic. Apex Magazine publishes work that pushes the limits, and that is what their readers expect. I’ve been working to break into these markets for a year and a half now. Frustrating but definitely builds your confidence and teaches you to revise, revise, revise with every resubmission.
  6. Angel Messages https://annetterochelleaben.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/angel-messages-jan-5-2023/
  7. Syl’s 65 blog https://syl65.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/thoughtfulthursday-dr-seuss/ No one could say it better than Dr. Suess!
  8. The Smorgasbord Magazine https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/smorgasbord-health-column-2023-the-body-our-greatest-asset-the-brain-introduction-and-anatomy-by-sally-cronin/ I have featured this series over the last ten years on a regular basis for new readers who might have joined the blog. Our bodies are are greatest asset. It has a long road ahead of if from birth, through the teen years, work life, parenthood, middle age and then into our 70s and beyond. At every stage of our life healthy nutrition is essential to help the body develop and remain as disease free as possible. I appreciate that many of you may have read this series before three years ago, but I hope it will be a reminder of how amazing our bodies are, and simply eating the right foods, exercising moderately and not doing anything too reckless…will go a long way to enjoying later life to the full. Losing who I’ve become is one of my biggest fears. Up there with losing certain loved ones. I don’t know how I would cope with either situation and I’m not eager to find out.
  9. Staci Trilio https://stacitroilo.wordpress.com/2023/01/05/review-colettas-unnatural-mayhem/ With the fate of the Natural World at stake, can Shawnee and Mayhem stop trophy hunters before it’s too late? Explosive news of a crow hunt rings out in the White Mountain Region of New Hampshire, and one hundred crows gather to put an end to it. With so many lives at stake—including Poe’s—Shawnee and Mayhem must work together to stop the trophy hunters before they obliterate the local murder. Taking on twenty-five experienced hunters armed with shotguns is no small feat. If they fail, Poe may lead his brethren to their death. No matter what it takes, this group must be stopped. But what if Shawnee and Mayhem aren’t seeing the full picture? What if these men have secrets worth killing over? Sounds exciting to me!
  10. Writers in the Storm https://writersinthestormblog.com/2023/01/get-booked-on-a-podcast-by-answering-one-question/ A critical way to build awareness of your work and credibility as a writer is by sharing your ideas, writing, and opinions with people in your niche. Podcasts are an excellent marketplace for ideas — according to PodcastHosting.org, there are two million podcasts out there, so surely there are a few shows that can help you grow your brand by booking you as a guest. The secret to getting booked comes down to answering one question. While likely not a traditional media organization, a podcast still deserves the same level of professionalism. If the show does regular guest interviews, assume the producers or host gets numerous pitches for guests every week (I know my shows do!). This means you are in competition to get placed, and you need to put your best foot forward by answering this question:
  11. Books and Such https://teripolen.com/2023/01/05/lumara-by-melissa-landers-bookreview-ya-magic-fantasy/ Boarding school student Talia Morris has no idea her boyfriend, Nathaniel, is a Mystic, let alone second in line to the throne of a secretive, aspirational magical community―one no mortal has ever been allowed to step inside. Until now. Nathanial’s cousin is about to be married in the biggest wedding the magical world has ever seen, and Nathaniel is allowed to bring a date. Talia is the lucky recipient of the golden ticket every Mystic wannabe in the world would kill for―only she doesn’t want it. Talia thinks Mystic worship unnecessarily aggrandizes people for being born a certain way. When she finds out Nathaniel is “one of them,” she almost jumps ship. But Nathaniel loves her, and she loves him. So when he begs her to give his family and their community a shot, she reluctantly agrees.Enter the most fantastical world any mortal has ever seen, and a magical wedding straight out of a dream. After a few days of bonding with Nathaniel’s family on the island, of seeing how beautiful their magic is and how peaceful their community, Talia’s about to be won over―until the entire wedding party suddenly falls into an unexplainable coma and the community goes on lockdown. Talia, the outsider, is pegged as the culprit and has to do everything in her meager non-power to prove her innocence. As she embarks on a journey to find the truth, Talia soon discovers reality is not all it seems, and her past may put her in more danger than she ever imagined. Love to find reviews like this!
  12. Chris the Story Reading Ape https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2023/01/06/what-i-learned-from-90-queries-by-eva-langston/ Don’t be fooled by the title. I’ve actually sent hundreds of queries for four different novels over the past decade. Without going into detail, I queried a novel and eventually got an agent, parted ways with that agent, queried some more, collected rejections, wrote three more novels, queried more, revised a lot, had some babies, and then got back to querying. My summary: traditional publishing is a long game, so get yourself some gumption. Now, when I say 90 queries, I’m talking about the queries I sent for my most recent novel. The novel that, after a year and a half in the query trenches, got me an agent. I’m now happily represented by the brilliant Ali Lake of Janklow & Nesbit. In the fall of 2020, I started querying with what I thought was my best novel yet: a YA paranormal suspense. At first I was getting nothing but form rejections. So I sought advice from my writing group and revised the query letter and opening pages. But still, crickets. Finally I paid for a one-on-one Manuscript Academy meeting with agent Fiona Kenshole. And she laid a finger on why I wasn’t getting any requests. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out the right details to put into a query. She gives good advice and insight.
  13. Fiction Favorites https://johnwhowell.com/2023/01/04/the-last-drive-blog-tour-with-chris-graham-the-story-reading-ape/ I doubt there is anyone in the blogging world who does not know about Chris Graham. Chris has spent the last ten years providing an avenue for authors to meet each other and to have a reliable source of all things writing. I am honored to be a guest of Chris’. So here is the link to the stop with Chris today. https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2023/01/04/reserved-for-john-howell-2/ The purpose of his blog, according to Chris, is fourfold. (In Chris’ words) 1. To introduce YOU to new (to me) authors I’ve come across in my wanderings through books and the cyberforest. 2. To provide a platform (battered old homemade soapbox) for authors to introduce themselves to you. (See my Contact Me Section for Guest Author article Guidelines) 3. As an informal information service to authors, poets, or anyone else who is thinking of becoming a published person of that ilk. 4. To promote FUN and an OASIS OF CALM and Font of useful Knowledge andTips for Indies (please do NOT feed my naughty chimps, or they may follow you home) from the woes and stresses of the real world. If you are not part of The Story Reading Ape’s team, you are missing an opportunity to learn, see, be seen, and be entertained. Thank you so much for helping spread the word on my latest, Chris. Follow John Howell as he guest over at Chris the Story Reading Ape’s blog for his new story, “The Long Drive.”
  14. Entertaining Stories https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com/2023/01/04/my-2023-business-plan/ I have to confess, Craig’s business plans started me doing my own about three to four years ago now. They help immensely as they point you toward your goals for the year.

Author:

I write YA as Traci Kenworth. I also write romance as Loleta Abi.

11 thoughts on “How Much Character Do You Put On? By Traci Kenworth

  1. I love your take on defining character, Traci. Excellent post.

    I’m so sorry about your landlord. I do hope you get out of there as soon as possible.

    Thanks for including my book review in your links. I really appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Staci! It’ll probably be a little while before we get out of here but we’ll be able to stand it knowing: we will move on.

      You’re welcome on the book review!

      Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the link, Traci. Your defining character post was terrific. Sorry about your landlord’s behavior. If things were constructed correctly, heat tape would not be needed. (my opinion) Hope you get away next year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sally. Yes, just like the coin. Two sides. We all have dark and light in us. Sometimes the darkness wins but it’s better when the light does, of course.

      Actually, we discovered the land idea would be too expensive. We’re hoping to just move on with a house already buildt. We’d have to sell this to the landlord (that’s in our contract too) and roll the difference if any into the next mortgage’s price but it’d be worth it we think.

      You’re welcome for the mention! Have an exciting day! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I write scifi so my stories start with an idea, usually a piece of technology, but that idea is simply the kernel. Nothing /happens/ in that story until characters come along and react to that kernel. To me, characters and their motivation change a story from thought bubble to compelling read. 🙂

    Like

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