Character Personality Traits

According to Write Your Novel in a Month by Jeff Gerke there are sixteen temperaments (See chart below). The sixteen that are listed does not mean that everyone fits perfectly inside those sixteen little bubbles. They don’t. The character’s growth and background influences those temperaments and thought processes.

Several personality traits include, but not limited to:

  • Caring
  • Purposeful
  • Idealistic
  • Observant
  • Activist
  • Leader
  • Decisive
  • Meaningful
  • Responsible
  • Quiet
  • Tolerant
  • Flexible
  • Generous
  • Attention seeking
  • Easily bored
  • Planner
  • Enthusiastic
  • Off-putting
  • Spontaneous
  • Competitive

Even if two characters in the book has the same traits, their reactions may differ – where a police officer may be willing to step in front of a gun to protect, another may rather take the person at risk and hide them away in safety from that same gun. Both are brave. Both step into the line of fire, but their reactions are different.

What I personally suggest to you is to make the character different from you. It does become easier writing as if you were the character, but it’s not challenging. If you are laid back and easy going, make your character impatient and short-tempered. Not only will it push you as a writer and it will also give your character a voice in their own story. Explore those avenues the character may take you. If it doesn’t work, delete what’s not working. If you write multiple stand-alone books with different characters but all of the characters are the same as you, it’ll become boring for the readers to read. They can already mentally pick your story ending. You will not have a good fan base. You need to push your limits.

If you need somewhere to start, decide first if the character is an introvert or an extrovert. What may surprise you is that your character’s personality may take you on a different route from your outline. If your character is really good, scrape your original outline and create a new one base off the path your book is going. I have done this several times and it makes for a more interesting story. In fact, I won’t even bother with outlines yet until the book has a good few chapters started. That way I get to know my characters and their surroundings first.

Another suggestion: to make the character more interesting – make their one of their personality traits a flaw.

personality

L. R. Mauck

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Platforms

write2A writer’s platform is basically any social means to get visibility for the author. The hard part is taking that risk to put yourself out there. There are several ways to build platforms.

  • blogs
  • social media: facebook, twitter, instagram, etc.
  • writer’s conferences
  • writer groups
  • guest authors in magazines or other blogs
  • attend book store signings
  • build email lists
  • friends, family, coworkers, church family, etc
  • business cards

Experts will say do all of these above. I’ll say, do what you can manage and feel comfortable doing. I personally don’t like social media, so I’ve chosen to create a blog. I’m not activity marketing myself on here yet. I’m waiting until I’m more confident before I do.

So, start small. Start with the free options first. Once you start building more interest with followers or likes, then you can add one of the other options.

Agents themselves shouldn’t requests physical copies of your following, but they may ask where you stand on a platform. It helps with marketing your book. The larger the following, the more likely an agent and publisher would be interested in taking on your work. This is for your own personal marketing. Once your book is available, you should market it regardless of the publishers marketing strategies. The more that see the book, the more interest it will draw.

I’m still starting out on my platform. If there’s any additional suggestions or helpful insight I learn along the way, I’ll share it with you.

There are websites to help and books available:

L. R. Mauck

Challenge Response #4

This is the character that I’ve created for the 4th weekend challenge.

The main character is female. I’m thinking late teens in age (not concrete). Shy and quiet. King’s daughter. The second child to the throne. Submissive to her father’s commands and to her position expectations and requirements (to serve for her country).

Physical traits: Long dark hair, normally pulled up. Willowy and pale. Brown eyes. Short.

As you can see, I don’t have her in the room yet. This is just the basics to build from.

L. R. Mauck

Weekend Challenge #4

Continuing the layering challenge: Take your room with the odd element to it, and create a character.

challengeThe challenge is that I want this character to have a flaw. I don’t care if he/she is missing a finger, a leg, or if it’s a personality flaw – depressed, naive, judgement, short temper, etc. Again: be creative.

Length: The character doesn’t necessary need to be physically inserted into the room just yet. You need to think of the character and how that character will interact with the room. If need be just make out a separate paragraph describing the character traits, and the flaw.

For bonus points: post it to your blog.

Also, sorry for not posting yesterday. I fell on my treadmill the night before and really wasn’t feeling up to doing much yesterday. Yesterday’s topic was to be about writers platforms. I’ll try writing about that soon.

L. R. Mauck

A Story

Wednesday’s are the days that I’ll post personal updates, stories, or quotes. Today, I’m posting the start of a story. I meant to post this last week, but I had changed the beginning of the story and it still isn’t sitting to well with me. I may change later or at least make it flow better. Please ignore any typo’s. I’ve only read through it a few times.

 

Chapter One

Cara Elliot stared at the wall clock in her office. The plain white face with black numbers indicated there was only fifteen minutes to go before she could call it the week. The second hand seemed to slow down the longer she looked at it.

Ugh, she thought. The last fifteen minutes were going to pass by slowly.

She looked back at her desk. There were a few remaining folders that she could sort and file away so that she would have a clean start on Monday. If she took her time, she could use up five of those minutes. The ten files were quickly in order and just as she turned to leave her desk for the filing cabinet, her phone rang.

“Human Resources,” she answered. “This is Cara.”

“Cara,” said that caller. She instantly knew it was Roger in the accounting department. He called a lot about the same two employees. “I hate to do this so close to five, but…”

“Go ahead and send Tim and Angela up,” she interrupted. Roger thanked her and wished her a good weekend. Cara wanted to say, “You too” but couldn’t because her weekend just got delayed. The clocked showed it was ten till now.

She filed the folders away and quickly pulled out a new blank incident report out. Cara hated this. It was the same every week. Tim Marson and Angela Flarr were constantly bickering at each other. It was the always little things that would set one or the other off. Then the yelling would begin and doors would be slammed. They never crossed the line that would force Cara to issue a suspension or termination of them. What she really wanted to do was to yell at the couple to go on a date and end the madness. It was obvious they were attracted to one another but company policy prohibited office relationships. The company claimed that relationships interrupted the process of work. Employees could go out to drink together, or even married spouses could work together, but they couldn’t date.

Cara huffed while strumming her nails on her desk as she waited. She had already turned her computer off, so she couldn’t distract herself with a hand or two of solitaire.

There was a knock on the door. Cara stood as she said, “Come in.”

Angela was first to walk in. She had the physical traits to be a model if she wanted to. Cara secretly envied Angela’s red hair. It was always perfect compared to Cara’s dull black hair that she kept up in a bun today. Angela took what she commonly referred to as her seat—the chair to the right of Cara’s desk.

Tim was a different sort. He was tall, pale, and wore glasses. He spoke in single words or short sentences. He never seemed to be the instigator, but reacted negativity to whatever Angela had done.

He silently took his seat and waited.

“Alright,” began Cara. “Angela, what did you do?”H

“Why do you think it’s me that started it?” she asked, instantly on guard.

“History,” Cara answered simply. “Speak.”

“Tim said that it was my fault the inventory records are messed up because I keyed the sales price into the INBC form and not the KRN form, which I never would do. I’ve worked here a lot longer than he has, so I know what I’m doing.”

“One month longer,” answered Tim.

“Okay,” Cara interrupted before another fight could break out. “Tim, your side.”

“She did enter them wrong and instead of admitting fault, she blamed the new hire in front of everyone in the department.”

“So then you two got into an argument,” Cara finished. She wrote down on the form that it was a dispute over computer software entries. “Here’s what I’m going to do. The software is all in house. I’ll have your manager contact the IT department on Monday to look under the computer servers to see which ID numbers cross with the data. There are over twelve people in the department, so anyone could be responsible. The person can be retrained so that it doesn’t happen again. If the new hire feels threatened or embarrassed, we’ll address that issue if there’s a complaint, but I’ll talk with Roger regardless.”

Angela began to protest that it wasn’t her again, but Cara held up her hand. “You both have worked here for over five years. If there is a situation that needs addressed, then contact Roger, your manager. There is no need to settle it between yourselves.”

“Roger doesn’t listen to us,” Angela declared. “He just sends us to you.”

Cara understood why. “I’ll talk with Roger on Monday. How about you both held home. It’s after five. So, take the weekend to calm down and we’ll start new on Monday.”

Tim was ready to leave but Angela needed more reassurance that Cara knew she wasn’t at fault.

Finally, it was a little after five thirty when she signaled a cab. The rush hour traffic jam in New York City was legendary, and today was no different.

Cara had wanted to be home early tonight. Her sister, of whom she roomed with, had a date, so Cara was free to get her jog in and eat leftovers before turning in early for the night. But as the time ticked away, she knew she’d have to cut her jog short. Even though her route was generally safe, she still refused to run after the sun went down.

Once at her apartment building, Cara took the stairs hoping that the extra exercise would warm up her leg muscles for the job as she climbed to the fifth floor. It was in no time that she was standing at her door, unlocking it. As she stepped inside, she froze. The little hairs on her neck rose. The lights in her apartment were on and there were noises coming from the small kitchenette. Someone was there who shouldn’t be.

She reached into her purse for the pepper spray that she carried with her for such cases as this.

“Cara, is that you?” Cara sighed in relief. She closed the door behind her.

“Yeah, it’s me,” she answered her sister’s call. She put the can back into her purse. She was safe. “What are you doing here? I thought you had a fancy dinner date with that boyfriend of yours?”

Anne was two years older than Cara. Anne was gorgeous in mind as well as body. She had the natural soft blond hair, warm chocolate eyes, and a natural thin frame that she hid under loose fitted clothes. Cara was the exact opposite. She was darker in skin tone from all the outside jogging she did, dark brown eyes that could almost be solid black, and a runners build that she had to work hard to maintain. Anne was always the desired sister and never went long without a boyfriend.

“Dan had to cancel tonight,” replied Anne as she busied herself while making them tacos. “He had a meeting that was pushed back and couldn’t delay it to Monday.”

Anne and Dan had been dating for all of two months. Though neither had told her, Cara knew that they were hopelessly in love with one another. Upon meeting Dan for the first time, she saw how perfect they were with and for one another. It made her slightly envious, but she smiled happily for them. She wanted her sister to be happy.

“Didn’t you have some type of formal dinner to go to? Wasn’t there a big panic two days ago regarding a perfect dress that remained unfound?”

Anne laughed. “Yeah, I decided to rent a dress instead. I went everywhere trying to find something. Dan’s construction company just got a big bid to renovation one of the theaters on Broadway. The owners want it to have as much of the original historical artwork and moldings as possible and he had to meet with an engineer on preserving it.” Cara nodded. “So, I’m home to surprise you with dinner.”

Cara smiled at her sister. She pulled a head of lettuce from the frig and began chopping it up on the cutting board, then pulled peppers and onions to cut. Anne was seasoning the ground beef.

“Alone again tonight?” Anne asked her. Cara rolled her eyes, but didn’t respond. “Well, Dan has this friend, well, he’s also his partner,” she continued hesitantly. Cara tried to block her out by focusing on her cutting. “He said Alex is always really busy with the business side of the construction–you know, with paperwork, contracts, and budgeting. He doesn’t get to meet anyone and I thought that maybe… maybe you might want to join us and Alex to one of these dinners or go on a double date sometime… soon.”

Cara stopped her slicing of the onions to look at her sister. Anne was normally someone who hated getting involved in other people’s personal lives. She was a nanny service receptionist. Anne never was directly involved with the busy parent’s but did have to answer the phones and schedule the nannies. She hated doing the scheduling because she wanted to make everyone happy and felt like she was stepping on people’s toes when it didn’t work out. Cara knew what it costs her sister to even ask. She could not reject her completely.

“Anne, we’ve discussed this…”

“I know, but please?”

“I’m pretty busy right now…”

“All you got plan tomorrow is a run and to visit your favorite café. Just one date. Please? Alex sounds like a really good guy and Dan says you are what he would need to help him relax and not work so much.”

“If he works so much, and you said two days ago that I do too, then where could this date possibly lead? Heart ache and sleepless nights with later resentment towards both you and Dan for forcing us to meet to begin with.”

Anne frowned, but they both knew Cara would not say no. “Cara, I don’t want you to be alone. I feel bad, going out and being with Dan only to know you are here going to bed early on Friday nights. You’re twenty-five. You need to have some fun. Alex is a good guy.” Cara sighed.

“You said he ‘sounds like’ a good guy, now he is? Have you met him?”

Anne smiled at Cara showing some interest. “No,” she admitted. “But you know Dan. Dan and Alex went to college together and are best friends. Would you not trust Dan’s judgment?”

Cara could not answer. Truth being, she only knew little of Dan, but liked him and knew he was a honest and caring man.

“Let me go run, then I might agree,” Cara relented.

“Good,” Anne laughed. They knew Anne won the battle. “Don’t be long. It’s about ready.” Cara looked at the raw meat that was being placed in the skillet. She changed quickly and grabbed her small handheld carrying case that held her id and phone.

“Oh, Anne?”

“Yeah?” She looked up from the skillet.

“Next time your date cancels, let me know.” Cara smiled. “You almost got pepper sprayed.” Anne threw her hand towel at the door just as it was closing behind Cara.

 

L. R. Mauck

Character Growth

People change. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If we didn’t change, then none of us would be alive because Adam and Eve’s children would have never have left their infant states, and thus would have never grown and had children of their own. We grow, we learn, we experience life, we make mistakes, and we interact with people. All of this shapes us as people.

So should your character.measure2

Your character needs to breath. Have a heart that beats. They need to experience what is actually happening in their story. They cannot be emotionless windows just watching what is happening around them. No, they need to interact. They need to face their conflicts. Your character has to have some type of development through the story. It can be subtle changes, or can be earth shattering ones. The choices the character makes in the story needs to affects them in some way, shape, or form. Otherwise, you’re writing about a dead fish.

Consider some ways that the character can be influence:

  • Background – where they came from, community, culture, beliefs, wealthy/poor etc.
  • Family – family influence are thoughts from our earliest moments. Single parent household, vs. multiple families in one house, even the number of siblings can influence the character
  • Friends – good / bad. Especially young school age children, their friends are highly affect their choices
  • Personality traits – lets face it, some of us are introverts and others extrovert. But according to Jeff Gerke (yes, I’m referencing his book again) in Write Your Novel in a Month – lists sixteen different personality traits.
  • Age and sex also impacts the character decision and offers a level of education based on the age. Is it a teen – then high school level education – then they should sound like a high school level character – not someone with a masters in chemistry.
  • Flaws – disorder, physical flaws, quick to temper, self doubt, gullible, etc
  • Past experiences: divorce, bullied, abuse, drugs, a death, etc.
  • Enemies / rivals; bad bosses

The character needs to have a path to follow for their growth. As an agent once put it simply: “A character can not be the same from cover to cover”.

When you work on your plot and/or an outline, if you do those, include a thought process or character development process to them. That way you at least have a base to work with. Mostly, consider the plot climax. How will this change your character? Good? Bad?

A trick I’ve done, is put myself into the story as the main character and ask myself how would I react if this was happening to me. What would my options be? This is the best route I’ve found to really think through my character. I normally pick something for my character that I personally would not pick for myself. It makes for a better journey and more routes I can explore for the character. Sometimes you just need to let the character take charge of the story and the growth of the character can develop without even you, the author, thinking about it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying. If something doesn’t work, hit the delete button. Sometimes you may need to step away and come back later to rethink it, but your character wants to live, so let it.

L. R. Mauck

Challenge Acceptance #3

This is my continuing challenge acceptance from the Weekend Challenge #3.

A summer breeze blew the white curtain aside to reveal a starlit night outside the open window.  The tower room was small with block stone walls and well-worn wood floorboards. A faded red door stood opposite a large canopy bed. The bed was dressed in white bedclothes. Beside the door was a small table with a stool. A single burning candle sat next to a blank piece of parchment and a quill resting in an inkwell were the only items on the surface of the table.

Slowly words took shape upon the parchment as if a ghostly hand formed each letter with careful grace. “I’m finally free” was written in long black strokes.

L. R. Mauck