Blogging A to Z 2022: the Letter C

Happy Monday! When I was working, I dreaded Mondays, not because i didn’t want to work, but because the students tended to be sleepier and less alert Monday mornings, especially the older ones. Now that I’m retired, there isn’t a great deal of difference on any day of the week.

Today, our letter is C. Today the letter stands for the word characterization which, for my purpose, means the creation or construction of a fictional character. The way this is achieved is best explained using the acronym, PAIRS: physical description, action, inner thoughts, reactions, and speech.

Let’s start with physical description. Some authors find online images of a person who best describes the character they have in mind. I don’t usually do that, but when I’m writing a contemporary romance where the hero and heroine or heroine alone with be featured on the cover, it helps. For example, let’s look at the cover of one of my contemporary romantic comedies, Make Mine a Manhattan, a book in my Cocktails for You series.

Here’s the blurb:

What’s an author to do when, thanks to writer’s block, she’s hopelessly stuck?

With only eight weeks left to finish her newest novel, bestselling author Sydney Sanders, aka Robin Langford, is stumped. On impulse, the thirty-three-year-old introvert decides to take her agent’s advice and shift gears, but instead of going on a short vacation, she decides on hands-on research. Immersing herself in her story and assuming her heroine’s identity, she heads to Manhattan to live out the plot. What could possibly go wrong?
As Savanna Long, she boards the train, expecting a quiet ride and time to refresh her muse for the chore ahead. But a lot can happen during the thirty-eight-hour trip, especially with her imagination and the drop-dead gorgeous passenger in the next car.

My Robin was a shy woman with a secret. I didn’t want to make her drop-dead gorgeous, but I needed to transform her from the way she saw herself into the heroine she wanted to emulate. So, the first step on her journey is a makeover–we all know how much fun those can be.

The second letter in PAIRS stands for action. The character must do something that creates the circumstances of the story. In this case, Robin decides to go to New York City as her fictional character to see if she can unblock her muse with hands-on experience.

The I in PAIRS stands for inner thoughts. What’s she thinking? How does what she’s thinking reveal her character? Is she confident? Is she worried? Is she convinced she’s going to fail? All these aspects together slowly build the character. Robin is an introvert. How do her inner thoughts get her to act like a risktaker rather than the shy, reserved person she is?

The R in PAIRS stands for reactions. In science we learned Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  When building character, the author has to add how the character will react in a particular situation. For example, in the story Robin bumps into a stranger in a coffee shop, dumping her ice capp all over him, most of it landing on his abdomen and lower and the chest of her shirt. How does she react? Because her reactions can and will set a vital aspect of the story in motion.

The last letter in PAIRS is speech. It’s more than what a character says, it’s how they say it. For example, a highly educated author isn’t going to say, “ya wanna eat?” She’ll enunciate and use her grammar properly. “Would you like to get something to eat?” Sometimes, tossing in foreign words is necessary to make a character more realistic, too, especially if that aspect of the character is what makes him or her different.

There you have it. C is for Characterization. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day. Please check out other bloggers here.

Published by Susanne Matthews

Hi! I live in Eastern Ontario. I'm married with three adult children and five wonderful grandchildren. I prefer warm weather, and sunshine but winter gives me time to write. If I’m listening to music, it will be something from the 1960s or 1970s. I enjoy action movies, romantic comedies, but I draw the line at slasher flicks and horror. I love science fiction and fantasy as well. I love to read; I immerse myself in the text and, as my husband says, the house could fall down around me, and I’d never notice. My preferences are as varied as there are genres, but nothing really beats a good romance, especially one that is filled with suspense. I love historical romance too, and have read quite a few of those. If I’m watching television, you can count on it being a suspense — I’m not a fan of reality TV, sit-coms, or game shows. Writing gives me the most pleasure. I love creating characters that become real and undergo all kinds of adventures. It never ceases to amaze me how each character can take on its own unique personality; sometimes, they grow very different from the way I pictured them! Inspiration comes from all around me; imagination has no bounds. If I can think it, imagine it, I can write it!

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