UF Author A.J. Locke on Creating Balanced Characters

Before I introduce my guest blogger for today, I wanted to let you know that I’m over at FF&P’s blog today (Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter of RWA) discussing theme, motifs, and divination tools. This is a great post for any writer or reader who wants to hear more about how I used a certain motif (cats!) and fictional divination tools to support my knowledge theme in Fiery Edge of Steel. Want to see a picture of what Virtus looks like? Or a picture of my inspiration for the two doomed demon lovers Cattus and Curiositas? Then click here.

Also, if you missed it yesterday, I asked about the type of content you most enjoy or would most like to see here. Click here to take the poll.

Below, urban fantasy author A.J. Locke, who is on tour this week with Bewitching Book Tours, discusses creating balanced characters. A.J. is originally from Trinidad, but now lives in NYC. She enjoys reading, drawing, painting, graphic design, and watching too much television. Welcome, AJ!

Affairs of the Dead, A.J. Locke, urban fantasy

Finding the balance within your Characters

Once you decide that you seriously want to write stories, there’s a lot you have to learn about how to build the layers of a story so that it turns out to be interesting and gripping. That’s a pretty obvious statement right? I know there’s a lot of advice out there that goes along the lines of “just write, don’t worry, just write!” and I’m not negating that advice, but there does come a time where you have to think, at least if you want to move forward with your writing. The characters are of course one of the most important aspects of a story; you want the reader to connect with them enough so they care about reading a story that revolves around them. Heck, even you the author have to feel those things or else you may very well get bored and detached from your own story.

That’s where the concept of balance is key, because balance is very important when it comes to character building. It might be tempting to write characters that are flawlessly perfect and heroic in every way, but such a character is one dimensional, and that’s not interesting at all. Think about real life, someone who comes across as “perfect” doesn’t seem real, believable or trustworthy, because in real life we know there is no such thing as a perfect person. So why would you want to write a character like that?

I personally enjoy writing characters with flaws. With Urban Fantasy there’s a lot that revolves around the main character being smart, kick ass, sexy, etc, but none of those things means they also have to be perfect. Characters should have their own insecurities and setbacks, and they should stumble one or ten times throughout the story before all is said and done. While they’re hunting down the bad guys they should also be having issues with their mother, or man problems, or dealing with a stubborn streak that ends up having a negative impact in some way. Of course these issues can’t be there just to make your character seem well-rounded – so if your main character is fighting with her mother, there should be something about it that affects some part of the story’s plot. It’s all about creating threads then weaving them together. Find the balance that works for your character, give them blind spots, character flaws, obstacles within themselves that they have to overcome, and it will strengthen your story overall.

In Affairs of the Dead, I enjoyed writing my main character Selene because she’s funny, unapologetic, smart, and driven, but she’s not without her flaws. For example, she deals in shallow affairs with men because she doesn’t think she’s worth better, and she has a streak of recklessness where she often acts before she thinks, and that tends to land her in trouble. Those are a couple of the ways I tried to weave a balance into Selene to make her a relatable character that the reader can hopefully root for. I will share an excerpt from the novel that showcases that. It touches on Selene’s insecurities when it comes to men:

The directions to the crime scene were in the folder, but Micah didn’t share them with me, nor did he care to partake in any conversation I tried to start. So all in all, we had a very awkward drive, though eventually, I’d been able to figure out that we were heading to Washington Heights.

Since Micah didn’t want to speak, I had only my own inner monologue to entertain myself with. The last time I had been in a car with Micah was when we were in a cab being taken back to his apartment while we drunkenly slobbered all over each other. I glanced at Micah, wondering if that memory was resurfacing for him too. I’d jabbed at his performance that night a couple days ago when he was being unbearable, but if I was honest, he’d done it all right. The alcohol had made me unbalanced and clumsy, but Micah’s hold on me had been firm, his kisses varying between deep and passionate and soft and tender. He hadn’t made the whole thing about him. It hadn’t been a bad night, but it had been the catalyst for the type of relationship we had now.

I bet deep down, Micah was totally in love with me and was just doing his best to convince me otherwise. I almost laughed out loud at that thought and had to turn it into an awkward-sounding cough, which caused Micah to give me a sidelong glance. The thought had just been too funny. Men didn’t fall in love with me; I had never worked hard enough to earn anyone’s love.

More about Affairs of the Dead

Help ghosts, stop a thief, and try not to die…

Necromancer Selene Vanream helps ghosts settle their affairs so they can move on. But when breaking the rules gets her in trouble, she’s bumped down to tracking ghosts trying to avoid the afterlife. Ghosts like Ethan Lance, who claims he was kicked out of his body when someone else jumped in. Which might be plausible—if such a thing were possible. And if Micah, Selene’s partner, didn’t pull her into an investigation of brutal murders that lead directly back to Ethan.

But when the whole mess puts Selene’s life in danger, she suddenly has very personal reasons to get Ethan’s body back. Between her uncomfortable relationship with Micah, and problems with her boss, Selene learns just how much trouble it can be when you don’t follow the rules…

Where to buy:

Where to find A.J. online:

So how about you? Do you have a favorite character flaw? Do you always root for the underdog? How about heroes who are alpha to a fault? What about heroines who are excessively confident or just a tad too insecure? Flaws make us human and make our supernatural characters easier to relate to. Thanks for guest blogging today, AJ!

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Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

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