Character Development by C.S. Boyack

The Cock of the South By C.S. Boyack

The Cock of the South By C.S. Boyack

Today I have a guest post from C.S. Boyack.  Enjoy!

Character growth is something all authors struggle with. I’m not an expert, but I have some seasoning. There are many ways to weave character growth into a story, but I’m going to limit this to what I know. Maybe we can have some good discussions in the comments.

All of my novels are stand alone stories. I don’t have the length of a series to get to the point. The goal is to give the reader a powerful emotional experience through the character’s growth. In a stand alone story this could be an emotional roller coaster.

Keep in mind that emotions aren’t limited to tears and heartbreak. If that’s your thing, go for it. You could be writing about humor, fear, patience, or other emotions.

I’m a believer in showing the character in his/her natural habitat. Modern writing demands this section be short if it exists at all. This is where we meet the character for the first time. Choosing the character can influence the emotional experience.

To illustrate, I’ll make up a problem. Someone has to rid the village of a man eating ogre named Stinkhorn. Fair problem. You could probably write a pretty good story by sending a runner after Sir Meatpuppet. What if you called upon a nine year old – girl – with a runny nose. She has a soup ladle, but it’s a heavy cast iron soup ladle. Let’s call her Lilly.

When you introduce Stinkhorn, he’s massive and brutal. Maybe he’s surrounded by bones, so many bones. Have him tearing down whole trees with his bare hands just to roast his next victim. We’ve just defined the gap between antagonist and protagonist.

Lilly isn’t just an underdog, she’s a virtual redshirt. You get an automatic emotional tug. She certainly is brave, but that ladle isn’t going to do much more than chip old Stinkhorn’s toenail. — I agree, we should get her a really pretty tombstone.

This story has some promise, but whatever Lilly has in mind has to fail. Maybe she drove off some mean kids with the ladle once before and just knows it’s going to work against Stinkhorn. It doesn’t work, and maybe old Stinkhorn takes the ladle as a butt scratcher.

Now we’re at the moment of character growth. Lilly has to make a new plan and step outside her comfort zone. The minute a character steps into unfamiliar territory, you have the makings of a hero.

Maybe Lilly absolutely hates her grandfather’s sauerkraut, and has sworn to let the tradition die with him. She will never make sauerkraut as long as she lives. As it turns out, sauerkraut will kill ogres on contact. Lilly must back down from a vow she swore publicly or fail. The villagers will ridicule her if she breaks her vow. Maybe vow breaking is a serious crime in Lilly’s village.

This is another growth point for Lilly. Gramps is out of town. She should really sweat this decision. Maybe she tries making kraut in secret somewhere. Maybe she gags and spills it on accident. Maybe it stains her only dress. This would be a good time to give up, and she ought to consider it.

The ogre steals away with one of the mean kids. This doesn’t offend Lilly, the other kid was mean. She has another moral dilemma. It isn’t right to let Stinkhorn eat the little brat. Still, he is a brat, and she really hates sauerkraut. The harder this decision is, the bigger the payoff at the end.

Ultimately, Lilly breaks her vow, faces her loathing of all things sauerkraut, and saves the day. She retrieves her beloved soup ladle, the mean kids want to be her friends, and sauerkraut cures snotty noses. (Who knew.)

What we just did was take a sacrificial lamb, forced her to change her beliefs, take an uncomfortable action, and become a hero. This is character growth.

***

Craig writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Paranormal novels as C. S. Boyack. His most recent story is a Dwarven fantasy set in a Greco-Roman era. It’s called The Cock of the South. You can find it, along with his other works at: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00ILXBXUY

 

You can follow his blog, Entertaining Stories at: https://coldhandboyack.wordpress.com

Craig is also on Goodreads and Twitter:

http://www.goodreads.com/Coldhandboyack

@Virgilante

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
This entry was posted in Guest Blogging, Spotlight and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Character Development by C.S. Boyack

  1. Thanks for hosting today, Charles. You’re getting some pretty good action over at my place. I’ll wait a few hours before re-blogging this. That will leave you on top for a little while longer.

    Like

  2. sknicholls says:

    I just love how your imagination works Craig! I have some minor character growth in my crime novel, but this really spells out how obstacles can become story features and turn something mundane into extraordinary..

    Like

  3. Kylie Betzner says:

    Great guest post! Excellent advice and content. I enjoyed the colorful examples. Really got the point across. Looking forward to reading your works. Sharing on Twitter!

    Like

  4. Reblogged this on Entertaining Stories and commented:
    Charles Yallowitz and I are doing a blog exchange today. His post was about character development as a way to keep a lengthy series interesting. My post is how to display the character growth over a stand alone book.

    Please visit Charles’ blog and consider following him.

    Like

  5. Ali Isaac says:

    So when are you bringing it out as a novel? I’m sure its got legs…

    Like

  6. janeydoe57 says:

    There’s a joke in there somewhere about letting Charlies stay on top but I’m not touching it!

    Very educational on character development and timely too as I slog through my first revision of Charlie’s story. Thanks!

    Like

    • I’m experimenting with something today. We have a lot of mutual followers. Rather than have Charles put the post in the Reader timeline, followed by me ten minutes later, I tried to reblog it several hours down the road. The hope was that it would get more views that way.

      It was also an attempt to let Charles have the most immediate post at my site for a few hours. That way, folks just surfing through we see his post rather than mine. It looks like it worked too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. L. Marie says:

    Ha! Great post, Craig! I love how you developed Lilly and her ladle-wielding skills. Who knew that sauerkraut kills ogres???
    I love developing characters through the use of fish out of water situations. Watching them sink or swim in unfamiliar surroundings is pretty fun.

    Like

  8. Jack Flacco says:

    Great post and wonderful thoughts about developing a character. Looking forward to reading your book, Craig!

    Like

  9. merrildsmith says:

    I loved this explanation! Good job. 🙂

    Like

  10. M T McGuire says:

    Great explanation. I hope you’re going to write this one up into a novel.

    Cheers

    MTM

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s