Writing Engaging Characters, Or How To Get Readers to Read On (RWA 2010 Blog Series)

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Woman - Love

Today I’m talking about the “Romance That Snaps, Sizzles, and Pops” Workshop given by Susan Dansby during RWA’s 2010 convention.  Ms. Dansby gave some tips on how to create engaging characters and get your readers to read on.  I’d like to discuss just a few here:

  • Make Your Reader Laugh (or Gasp)

One of her tips is to get the reader to laugh, preferably within the first 10 pages.  If your book isn’t funny, use irony to engage them.  The point is to create at least one scene, right up front, that will stick with your reader.  That will make them need to read on.  Easy enough, heh? (Yeah.  Right.)

  • Create Seeds For Your Story

Plant seeds for secrets that you will reveal later on in the book.  For example, in my current WIP, we start off with the hero shadowing the heroine.  He recognizes his attraction to her but dismisses it.  Why?  Because he might have to kill her.  Why is that?  Well, the reader has to read on to find out why (and hopefully they’ll want to by this point).

  • Give Your Dialogue Punch

One of the ways you can add punch to your dialogue is to have your characters say the opposite of what they mean.  That creates conflict and makes the other characters have to work to figure out what they really mean.  And honestly, how many times in real life do we actually say what we mean?

  • Know the End (Opposites Impact)

Not the end of your story (necessarily).  But if you know your characters are going to end in one place, why not have them start in the exact opposite place?  What’s more fun than a hero and heroine who hate each other at first (even though they are secretly attracted to each other)?

So, do you have any tips for making your characters engaging?  If so, I’d love to hear them!

Remember, you can purchase individual workshop MP3s from RWA.

I’ll have a guest blogger on Monday, FF&P member and erotic romance author Sayde Grace (www.saydegrace.com). She’ll be heading off a recap of the “A to Zs of Alpha Heroes” Workshop.



4 thoughts on “Writing Engaging Characters, Or How To Get Readers to Read On (RWA 2010 Blog Series)

    kathy otten said:
    October 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

    I like the idea of making the reader laugh in the first ten pages. I hadn’t heard that before, but it’s a good way to emotionally engage the reader with the characters. I’ll have to try that. Thanks for sharing.

    rosalielario responded:
    October 8, 2010 at 8:23 am

    You know Kathy, I’d never really thought about it before either, but some of my favorite authors are masters at this: Gena Showalter and Teresa Medeiros (particularly her novel, After Midnight). I still remember them long after reading them, so I think there’s something to this tip!

    Nancy Lee Badger said:
    October 9, 2010 at 9:17 pm

    Your suggestions are timely. My latest book is in its infancy and I plan to make it a dark paranromal. However…I love laughter, and plan to add some problems and conflicts to lighten the story…in spots. That is my voice, so what can you do?

      rosalielario responded:
      October 9, 2010 at 10:11 pm

      You know, my favorite stories are a bit darker, but with humorous undertones. In fact, that’s really the only way I personally can handle darker books. I remember picking up a book a few months ago. The characterization was good, and the worldbuilding was amazing. But it was too dark, without having anything to relieve it. I think most people need a blend of light and dark in order to be able to move forward.

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