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01.08.2011 17:57    Comments: 0    Categories: Fiction Elements  Fiction Writing  Writing Craft  Writing Characters  Writing Tips  Writing Romance      Tags: romance novel  characterization  believable people  cristine grace  

Blurb: Learn all about characterization in the romance novel.


Solid characterization - the character traits or actions that define the people in a novel - is an essential part of any good story. The oft-repeated phrase "Character drives plot" - meaning the characters' motivations and conflicts and strengths and weaknesses are what creates the action or plot of a story - is absolutely true in a romance novel. Generally, romance novels are character-driven rather than plot-driven stories.


The successful romance novel is about relationships and emotions. Your characters must be really solid and convincing so that the reader is engaged in your story. As the writer, as the creator of these characters, you must work on fleshing out these people and making them come to life. You want to make the reader feel as if these characters are dear friends, so that she'll be sad to put your novel down.


Your main protagonists need to be people the reader can identify with (even if the characters' situations are very different from your reader's experiences) and people the reader likes. Otherwise, why would readers want to read your novel?

When developing your characters, think about the basic physical descriptions: hair color, eye color, height, weight, build, age, etc. But, more important, think about their back stories - the pasts that have shaped them to be the people they are today. Ask yourself questions, like:


  • What happened during their childhoods and early adult years that have affected them?
  • Where did they grow up?
  • Why did they pick the careers they work in?
  • What's their relationships like with their parents?
  • What are the most important things in life to them?
  • What are their sets of moral beliefs?
  • What are their flaws?
  • What exactly makes them likable despite these flaws?
  • Is there anything that makes your character unique?


This is by no means an inclusive list, but a starting point for you to begin developing your characters. Let the reader get a feel for who these characters are, not just the situations they find themselves in. Focus on internal, not just external, characteristics. Crawl into the characters' minds and let the reader have a peek.


Your hero and heroine should both be likable and sympathetic. Your protagonist can be an ordinary kind of person, yet somehow he or she must also be larger than life. Your hero and heroine need to have heroic qualities. They should be intelligent, independent, caring, compassionate, strong, and have opinions of their own. Neither should be abusive or unlikable.


While the characters will have flaws, the reader should basically like them. The reader should be able to fall in love with the hero and empathize with the heroine. Neither the hero nor heroine should be so absorbed with other things that the romance takes a backseat. Though your hero and heroine don't have to be model beautiful, they should be physically - as well as emotionally - attracted to one another. Show how these characters are beautiful people inside and out.


Once you establish who these people are, your characters' motivations need to be clear. If the reader doesn't know why your hero or heroine thinks a certain way or does a particular thing, they're going to be put off. If a hero or heroine behaves in a way that doesn't seem consistent with the characterization you've painted, his or her actions are going to ring false and the characters will seem like puppets that you, as the writer, are manipulating.


Also, you must never forget the importance of believable, strong internal conflicts. These "roadblocks" to love are what the whole romance novel is hinged on. Without roadblocks, the hero and heroine would fall in love on page two and the story would be over. Likewise, the foundation for your romance must be believable. The reader must trust these two could fall in love in real life, not just on paper. And for that to happen, you must have a realistic resolution to the internal conflicts.


Characters are the life's blood of a good romance novel. Make them come alive so that the readers swear these are real people and you'll be one step closer to publication!


Author: Cristine Grace

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