Hello readers, today we have a special guest joining us. Please issue a warm welcome to Elaine Cantrell. She’s going to discuss Bringing Your Characters to Life, using some excerpts from her books to give you a visual example. Take it away, Elaine.

Bringing Your Characters to Life:

If you’re an author, you hope to create memorable characters who will help your story come alive and captivate your readers.  Most authors, get to know their characters inside and out before they even begin a book, but how do they reveal their characters to the reader so that the reader understands the character too?

First, we learn about characters through their speech.  What do you learn about Fred Emerson in this excerpt from A New Dream?

“Who brought you home?” demanded her father, Fred Emerson. “Where’s your car?”

“Alternator failure. It’s in the parking lot at work. The new manager, Matt McCallum, brought me home.” Violet hugged her mother Beth and her sister Jessie who both had a big pile of beans in front of them.

“You could have called me,” her father insisted.

Violet hung her purse on the coat rack near the door. “I knew you were busy with the garden stuff, Daddy. He offered, and I didn’t see any reason to turn him down.”

Fred snapped a bean with more vigor than necessary. “McCallum acted like a gentleman, I hope. Some of those pro-ball players don’t behave too well.”

Violet frowned. “He was a perfect gentleman, Daddy.”

“Good.” Fred tossed a handful of beans into a dishpan.  “He’d better continue to be. I won’t tolerate anybody messing with my daughters. I don’t know what the world’s coming to these


Right off the bat we know that Fred is an old-fashioned, maybe overly protective father.

We also learn about characters from their appearance.  What do you learn about my bad girl Stacey?  She’s also from A New Dream.

Her style hadn’t changed much since she ran out on him. She still dressed to attract attention, and judging from the expression on several nearby male faces, she hadn’t lost her touch. She was wearing a short skirt, knee boots, and a sweater that was probably half a size too small. She looked as chic, expensive, and sexy as she ever had, but the sultry, comehither look he’d always loved didn’t do much for him now.

So, Stacey’s an extrovert, sexy, likes men, and probably uses her looks to get what she wants.  We also learn that when the going got tough, Stacey ran out on my hero.

A character’s private thoughts also tell us what he/she is like.  What do you find out about my New Dream hero Matt McCallum?  Matt was a pro-football player who lost his career when he lost a leg in an accident.

He had worked like a dog on that leg, but he still limped, and it felt like knives stabbed him with every step he took. His career was over, and he had lost almost everything he had loved and valued. Yeah, he felt drained.

 Nevertheless, he always kept such dark thought to himself. God forbid he should invite anyone’s pity! He’d rather be dead first.

We see that Matt is depressed over the changes in his life.  We also see that he’s a proud man who doesn’t want anyone’s pity.

We also learn about characters from the way others see him and react to him.  In this excerpt, my New Dream hero told my heroine that he won’t leave her porch until she talks to him even though the weather is icy and bitter cold.

Dinnertime came and went, and Matt still sat on the porch.  “I’m going to take him something to eat,” Beth declared. “He has to be starving.”

Violet guessed her mother was right. Matt had once told her that the effort of walking with a prosthesis burned additional calories, but the picture of Stacey etched in her brain hardened her heart. “He isn’t your problem, Mother. Leave him alone.”

 Nerves on edge, Violet started to cry, and when she did Beth tackled Fred. “Fred Emerson, you do something right now! I’m not having it on my conscience if that young man freezes to death on my front porch, especially since I believe he’s telling the truth.”

“Mother! I thought you were on my side!”

Fred pounced on her statement like a cat on a catnip mouse.  “I knew it! You’ve always liked him.”

“Well, you do something, and I mean now!”

Don’t you think it says a lot about Matt’s character that my heroine’s mother believes he’s innocent of betraying her with another woman?

A character’s actions will reveal a lot about them too.  What do you think this excerpt says about Matt?

Matt patted old Mrs. Watson on the arm. “I’m sorry for the confusion, ma’am.”

Bristling with indignation, the woman nodded her head.  “See to it that it doesn’t happen again.”

As she stalked away, the redfaced cashier blurted out. “I wasn’t wrong.”

“I know it, but she’s old. Make a note of the amount, and I’ll put it in the register.” He winked at the cashier who no longer looked upset.

He smiled when he turned around and saw Sam Dickson watching him. “Coffee in my office?”

“Well, we aren’t going to drink it in the produce section are we?” Sam quipped.

He’s kind to old ladies?  This is a nice guy!  A keeper!

And now, if you’re interested after reading so much about A New Dream, the book is available by clicking here

Or, if you want a print version click here

Oh, and if you’d like to sample the book before you buy, you can read an excerpt at my website.

Thanks for reading!

Elaine Cantrell

Hope. Dreams. Life… Love





Thank you for joining us today and sharing your insights into a tough subject Elaine. 🙂

Readers, don’t forget to hop over to her blog and check out my guest post today.


About kittyb78

Catrina Barton is a licensed Kung-Fu Instructor of the Black Dragon style, and draws on that experience to make her fight scenes both realistic and action packed. She enjoys being surrounded by the stark beauty of mother nature. Whether it's a moon-lit starry sky, or a picnic by a peaceful waterfall cascading from the mountain side. Growing up no matter where she was physically, she always had at least one book in her hands and spent every free moment lost in a book. It's only natural that as she grew up, her passion for reading grew into an even stronger passion for writing, especially Young Adult Paranormal Romances. She is a proud member of many writing and marketing groups, and an active participant at Critique Circle and several other crit groups. Favorite personal quote: "An author cannot grow without both constructive criticism and encouragement."

8 responses »

  1. Lisa Orchard says:

    Great post Elaine! You gave some great examples on how to bring your characters to life!

  2. Danielly says:

    i really liked your article. keep up the good work.http://www.kitsucesso.com

  3. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa. Isn’t this a nice blog?

  4. jeff7salter says:

    I think my own characters come to life mostly by their speech, conversation, and internal thoughts. I don’t write a lot of ‘stage directions’ because I want the reader to focus on what’s being said and imagine the characters’ expressions or mannerisms. In that sense, I think I write parts of my novels more like stage play scripts.
    With such scripts, the actors and director bring the character to life … but it’s that character’s words which inspire the actor / director.

    • kittyb78 says:

      Hello Jeff,
      thanks for commenting. Excellent insight. I don’t know much about script righting yet, but from what I’ve heard it sounds fascinating.
      Thanks for sharing your opinions with us. 🙂

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