Friday, December 19, 2014

The Least Envied by Sean DeLauder Making Your Characters Recognizable & Giveaway

Cast back in time to a perilous wasteland, Andrew is tasked with recording the fate of an individual history has chosen to ignore. Threatened by knee-high creatures called Wogs, an enigmatic beast known as the Forest Monster, and the man orchestrating the slow annihilation of the world, Andrew discovers all hope for salvation and survival rests with a boy without a history.

Making Your Character Recognizable by Sean DeLauder:
A multitude of ingredients go into a character’s recipe, including personality, appearance, motivation, but out of my respect for your time I’ll limit myself to Making an Easily Identifiable Character.

Typically, you can identify a well-made character by a readily identifiable quirk. This could not only give you an easy way to recognize them, it may also serve to tell you something about their personality.

Some such identifiers are uncomplicated, such as giving your character blue hair—it’s a way to stand out, but it says little about them (unless blue hair means something significant). Harry Potter had his scar, but it told you only about an event. It lent no insight to his personality. Joss Whedon’s Firefly characters could be identified simply by listening to their dialogue, and their manner of speaking did lend some insight into their character.

The latter example gives credence to the fact that what makes a character unique isn’t necessarily defined solely by their appearance. Perhaps they have a tic that causes them to finish each sentence with the word “Ribbit”. Or, for that matter, “Gollum”.

During my tenure at BGSU I was fortunate enough to have Tony Doerr (yes, THAT Tony Doerr) as an instructor in several courses. One of the most lucid memories I have of that experience is a class in which he discussed how to make a character recognizable—by giving him or her a characteristic that in some way marks them as distinct. “A guy with a dead fish in his back pocket” is the offhand suggestion he made. These are the sort of people who will stand out in a crowd without being unobtrusive or deliberately drawing attention to themselves (especially if the fish has been in the pocket for a while).

It’s not necessary to make the feature obnoxious, like hair made out of fire or a coat made out of barking dogs. Readers, so long as they aren’t Michael Bay, can appreciate subtlety and don’t need to be buried under the ostentatiousness of a character’s quirks. Unless the character is ostentatious, that is.

In which case, fire up that dog coat and howl away.

Regardless what you do, it’s important that people have no trouble distinguishing your character. I guarantee that if your character shows up unannounced and begins speaking from the shadows, punctuating each sentence with the word “Ribbit”, your readers will have no difficulty recognizing that character and their brains will light up like a cloud full of lightning as they process who that character is without having to speak their name.

Do these characters need to be conspicuous and outlandish? Certainly not. They just need to function within the story. Giving a character roller skates for hands is a good way to create an easily identifiable image, so long as it serves a purpose—there must be a rationale that reinforces the plot of your story or your readers will end up confused. You can certainly have a character with roller skates for hands in your post-apocalyptic, desert-themed roller derby actioner, but this character is less likely to fit well in your paranormal romance.

Unless you are Tim Burton. Then anything goes.

“Will I win?” asked Billy-Bob.

Gordimer grimaced and rubbed his nose. He checked the parchment, eyes glazing as if he were looking at it but not reading it.

“You will find victory in defeat and death.” Gordimer rolled the parchment, cleared his throat, and added, “You will also need fourteen acorns.”

The pleasant flavor of heroism had gone suddenly sour. Victory in death? This bit of information didn't make much sense. He certainly couldn't win if he were dead. And victory could hardly be had through defeat.

“What was that last part?” asked Billy-Bob.

“You will need fourteen acorns,” Gordimer repeated.

Billy-Bob's head shook.

“No no. The other part.”

He leaned forward to look at the parchment, but Gordimer clutched it to himself, then lit a corner with a small flame he produced from somewhere unseen. The parchment burst into a brilliant white fire and was gone. Mostly. Gordimer's eyes went wide and he fanned the air, swatting at bits of glowing cinder and fluttering his wings as they circled about him, hissing and biting back curses when flecks of fire reached his skin. When they were scattered he wiped his hands across grime-darkened pants.

“Messy stuff,” he mumbled.

Maybe it was better he didn't understand the meaning of the parchment. Maybe Gordimer had misread it. In fact, the more he considered the bit about victory and death the less he wanted to know.

“Why do I need fourteen acorns?” Billy-Bob asked.

Gordimer's lips quirked.

“Because thirteen is bad luck.”


AUTHOR Bio and Links:
This author has held several positions in recent years, including Content Writer, Grant Writer, Obituary Clerk, and Staff Writer, and is under the false impression that these experiences have added to his character since they have not contributed much to his finances. He was awarded a BFA in Creative Writing and Journalism and a BA in Technical Communication by Bowling Green State University because they are giving and eager to make friends. He has a few scattered publications with The Circle magazine, Wild Violet, Toasted Cheese, and Lovable Losers Literary Revue, and resides in the drab, northeastern region of Ohio because it makes everything else seem fascinating, exotic, and beautiful.

Sean DeLauder will be awarding $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn host.
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. great post very interesting ... congrats on your many writing awards ....thanks for this chance

    1. Thanks and you're welcome, Amy. Best of luck in the giveaway!

  2. The EXCERPT was cool and congratulations on your a accomplishments.

  3. Making Your Character Recognizable Was very interesting!!

  4. Thanks to everyone who has stopped by to read my post and excerpt. It was a joy to assemble. be sure to enter the giveaway. Winning will allow you to buy 5 kindle copies of my book. Or, you know, something else. If you already have a copy.

  5. I liked reading the book excerpt, Thank you!

    1. Thanks, Claudia. It's entirely possible that, if you enjoyed the excerpt, you might enjoy the book as well.

  6. I loved the excerpt and I cant wait to read this!

  7. I liked the EXCERPT!