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What a Character!

Characters have to have sympathy! Don't they? Look at this guy. Doesn't he look forlorn? Wouldn't you like to give him a big fat hug? Sure you would!

Because he's got our sympathy. And heck, he's rather sexy too, don't you think?

But how do we get sympathy? Not just from a look, but from backstory. And how do we add backstory without it being backstory?

That's the trick! Crisis time! I've been working full steam ahead on Legend of the White Wolf rewrites (and that's why I'm behind on everything else--deadline Mon), dealing with my mother's death, taxes, just got an order for 3 bears, huh? No other time this year, but they have to come now? :) Yep, keep upping the conflict, ladies and gents. My daughter says it wouldn't happen like this if I couldn't handle it. Isn't it nice to have such a wise daughter?

In Destiny of the Wolf, my hero is maudlin over the death of his mate. But then he learns...she wasn't supposed to be his mate. Someone else was supposed to be. How? Why? These are the questions that need to be answered. But we hope that readers will sympathize with him. He's been lied to, cheated on, and heck, he's the alpha male pack leader. What gives? But this is what makes him sympathetic. The heroine's lost. Her parents are gone, her brother and uncle are gone, and her sister has died due to foul play. And she wants to find out who did it and make him pay, especially since she feels it's her fault her sister ended up in the mess she did. So giving the characters deeper motivation for what they do, which helps us to sympathize with them.

In Heart of the Wolf, the heroine has a bad past with the alpha leader, but he still wants her for his mate. She has nightmares about it, shares snippets of past events reluctantly with the hero, and he's angry that she's lived through this and he hadn't known about it so he could have protected her better. But he couldn't have. The pack leader was older and would have killed him. So giving the characters a past, but revealing it in small amounts through dialogue or nightmares or flashbacks can help.

In To Tempt the Wolf, coming Sep 1, the heroine is frantic to rescue her brother from prison. She's already lost her parents, and her brother is her last living relative. She knows he's innocent. She won't stop until she frees him. But the hero has troubles of his own--pack mutinies, home burns down, has to move, sister disappears, and then comes real trouble--the heroine. :) Both are sympathetic because they both have pasts.

Legend of the White Wolf is coming next--both are human this time, he's lost his partners in some kind of hunting scheme and her fiance stole her father's research and both are searching for the truth in the wilds of Maine--Arctic wolves this time--and there's a story behind that too. And after that, two more in the series have sold. So yep, more conflicted characters living in a world of wolves.

But should only our hero and heroines have all the fun? Nope, our villains need to be just as rounded out...good and bad sides, reasons again for their significant problems. And what about secondaries? Sure, if they're important enough. The thing of it is, we can just give a couple of sentences to reveal much about a character, but why would we want to do this if you never see them again? If they highlight the main character, make us sympathize with him or her more, see deeper into their persona, then it's effective. Then it's worth doing.

So bring out the dirt, get out all the bad stuff that happened in the past, make the characters human and readers will love them. :) Even if they're half wolf. :)

Terry Spear


  1. Terri~

    What a fabulous post. You sound as if you have no problem gaining sympathy for your characters. I'm looking forward to reading all about them.

    As for you, your daughter is very wise. Sometimes keeping extremely busy is a good way to get through a difficult time.

  2. It's odd but true... the more trouble we give our characters, the more sympathetic they become to readers. I think it's that old 'empathizing' thing we humans are so good at. Or at least some of us... LOL!

    I do love wolves... so strong and family oriented! Great post, Terry!

  3. Thanks so much, Robin!! When I don't have any deadlines, I flounder. I feel lost. :) So I guess it's true! :)

    Thanks, Donna!! I agree...empathy is great...when someone doesn't empathize when characters are going through awful trials,that individual makes for a good villain, don't you think??? :)

  4. We've all got troubles, and it's nice to know we're not alone. The fact that heroes and heroines can have them, too, makes them more real to us.

    However, I don't think your sweet little hottie, Beiron, has ANYTHING to feel forlorn about, unless, of course, he doesn't care to have women--and probably a few men--all over the world drooling over him....

  5. Terry,
    You make them real. When we can relate, and sympathize we can connect with them. We get drawn into the story. Into their world, their lives.
    You're very good at making it really happen for me.

  6. I totally agree--giving characters troubles does make us empathize and sympathize with them... and totally true, Cheryl--knowing people out there have issues, similar or not, are comforting for all of us readers with problems of our own.

    Great post, Terry!

  7. What a wonderful string of books. My son loves wolves, so I have to pick a book up as soon as I see a wolf on the cover. Your characters certainly have my interest.

  8. Terry,
    I forgot to ask.
    Is Sad Mr. Dream-Boat Berion one of your new Wolves? I let him nibble on my neck any day or night.
    He takes my breathe away.

  9. Oh, wow! What a guy! I'm surprised any of us even knows what's in your blog after looking at that guy! It was difficult to take my eyes off him.

    Your post was very insightful about rounding out characters.

    I'm curious about the orders for 3 bears you mentioned? I'm hoping they are tiny, made of gold and you plan to wear them around your neck on a chain.



  10. Good luck meeting that deadline, Terry!! Daughters are very wise!

  11. Cheryl, I totally agree...he has nothing to look forlorn about, so I imagine it's just an act to get our attention! And he got it!

    Thanks so much, Donna! You made my day!

    Thanks a lot, Danielle, I really am here, kind of. :)

    Thanks, Sheila!!! :)

    Oh, yeah, hmm, Donna, think he might be Jake in Destiny of the Wolf. :)

    LOL, Amelia, they're award-winning personalized teddy bears I make! One is for Canada, a MacArthur Celtic Clan Bear, one is a confetti bear (all kinds of different color splotches on white fur) and a grizzly bear. I really have to figure out a werewolf bear....I have 2 orders if I could ever figure it out! LOL

    Thanks so much, Marie! I'm working at it!!! :)


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