by B. J. Robinson
Want to write a heart-touching novel? Let your characters drive the story. Develop well-rounded ones so readers will be able to identify and connect. Begin with your main character. In my novels Last Resort, Southern Superstitions, and Whispering Cypress, I started each one with a main character.
In my August 11 release, Whispering Cypress, I created characters with conflict beginning with the main character who loves Whispering Cypress Campground. Problem is, her former beau also loves the same place, but she beat him to buying it. I develop these characters and their story along with secondary characters, and they tell the story. I let them go and give them free rein. That’s character driven versus plot-driven fiction. I love books about people, not things, so I enjoy writing multi-layered, character driven novels that go deep and make readers think. If you want your reader to remember the story and your characters once they close the book, these are the type of novels they’ll long remember after turning that last page. For example, I read Lynn Austin’s All She Ever Wanted summers ago, but it’s a novel I’ll never forget because it’s not some plot-structured book. It’s a character-driven novel about people, not things.
To make the characters endearing to readers, I sometimes use a symbol. In Whispering Cypress, a red-and-black-checkered scarf becomes central to the story and even my secondary character, Morris Dillon, becomes well developed instead of flat. In Last Resort, Faith has a favorite coffee cup that belonged to her mother and loves her golden cocker spaniel, a character in the novel. In Southern Superstitions, June gifts her mother with a white cat and when her husband, Andy, goes missing, certain objects bring back sweet memories. These things are not what the story is about, but they’re used to connect readers so they can identify. The story is always about the characters, the people.
Character-driven novels make readers care about what happens to the characters. The characters are not forced to remain static, but are allowed to branch out and develop as the story progresses. I’ve had many reader compliments and readers who’ve asked me to write another novel about the same characters because they want to know more about what happens to them in the future. For example, I’ve had several requests to write a sequel to Southern Superstitions. I love family sagas, series, and generational stories for the same reason readers want more about the same characters. These readers care about the characters, not a certain plot. They want to know what happens to them like people whom they’ve met in real life. That’s realistic fiction, and I’ve had readers comment that my books sound real. If you check the reviews for Southern Superstitions, you’ll find many comments about the characters. http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Superstitions-ebook/product-reviews/B006X8GAWA/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1.
B. J. Robinson is a multi-published, prize-winning author of Christian romantic suspense, Last Resort and Southern Superstitions. Whispering Cypress releases August 11. She writes from Florida, blessed with her husband, children, grandchildren, pets, and faith. When she’s not writing, she’s reading and reviewing books on her blog.