As we said in a post before, we have the pleasure to be part of the Souls Of The Stones Blog Tour. And finally the day has come! We are really glad to host this Unofficial Event because Kelly Walker was the first author to trust enough in us and The Unofficial Addiction Book Fan Club to do the review of her books. For that we are really grateful and we were anxious to do this Tour, not just because she trusted in us, but because we are madly and deeply in love with her books!
Know a little bit more about the Souls Of The Stones books by clicking on the images.
The Driving Force Behind Great Characters: Morality and Motivation
Show me a captivating character, and I’ll show you a character who wants something.
In life, we have wants. They might be small or big, attainable or preposterous, but we want something. It doesn’t necessarily drive everything we do and say, but it does influence who we are. In fiction, most characters, or at least most well developed characters, also want something. To take it one step further, most characters also have a definable moral code, even if that moral code’s very defining characteristic is a lack of one.
When I’m exploring a character, the first thing I usually do is find an image to help me nail down a visual, or just jot a few brief descriptions based on the image already in my head. These are important so I don’t contradict myself, or in some cases they might be important based on what family they belong to, such as in Cornerstone. But that, honestly, is the small stuff. To really know how to write a character, I ask myself two questions. What do they want? What do they believe in? Sometimes those answers change over time as part of the growth of a character’s story arc, and their new experiences, but in every case those two questions are a foundation for how a character will behave. By knowing this, not only does a character become more three dimensional, they become consistent.
One of the easiest of my characters to see this for is Jessa. Jessa is my most black and white character. Her wants are quite simple. She wants to serve Riya well. That is her aspiration in life. But when we delve into her morality, we see that her very simpleness is what makes her interesting and distinct. Jessa subscribes completely to the notions of right and wrong, as defined by social norms. As much as Riya considers propriety a mask to be put on and taken off as need arises, Jessa considers propriety paramount. She does not consider other character’s motivations nearly so highly as their actions. If something is wrong, it doesn’t matter if they did it for the right reasons. It’s wrong. Her outlook begins to expand throughout the books, and there are times she has to push herself and even question her own morality, but that builds conflict, and tension, which is even better.
But just because a character has a moral standpoint, or a motivation, doesn’t always mean a reader will know what it is, in explicit terms anyway. An example of that is Rink. While he does have a motivating factor about him, without reading Gifted Stone most readers won’t really know what it is. Yet he is always fiercely loyal to Riya, and he’d do anything for her. He too wants to serve Riya well, but for very different reasons than Jessa.
Most characters come to me as part of a story, and they already have distinct personalities. But one of my favorite characters is one I created to fill a need. Blaine is fascinating, and most people seem to love him or hate him. ( I won’t tell you the need, because I don’t want to spoil anything.) But I couldn’t just have a cardboard Blaine running around, with no motivation or morality. So I asked myself what he wanted, and the answer was simple. He wanted to be the leader of Sheas, and he wanted to make his father proud, no matter what. This gave him instant conflict with Riya, which meant he treats her very differently than how he treats others, which made conflict between Riya and others.
A recent example of this type of character development was shown very well with Bronn, the sell-sword in Game of Thrones (the TV series). He’s explaining to Tyrion that he’s a sell-sword, and so that’s what he does. He sells his sword. Not his friendship, or his affection, or even his loyalty. He sells his sword. It means we will always know how he will act, right? He’s loyal to whoever is paying him the most. But what about his morality? Does he have any? His morality will tell us if he will be loyal to Tyrion should a higher offer come in.
So, whether you are writing, or reading, the lesson remains the same. If you want to know how a character is acting a certain way, or you want to figure out how they will act, ask yourself two things. What are their morals, and what do they want?
We are going to do the reviews of the other Souls Of The Stones books soon, but while we are working, Book Addicts, you can take a peek of our latest review of this magnificent series:
Because we are in love with Severed Stone, we want to show you the dream cast we think would fit best for us if this book would be a movie (*cross our fingers*).
Chris Pine as Prince Selwyn
Chris Hemsworth as Prince Erwyn
Liam Hemsworth as Prince Fidwen
Emily VanCamp as Ciorstan
What do you think Book Addicts?
Buy the book of the Souls Of The Stones series and get hooked with Emariya's story.