For those of you who joined us early this morning and left your entry for the drawing…Good Job. Now, let’s keep them coming boys and girls aa we learn a little more about Bridger and Lily.
Developing characters is the most important job I have when writing a story. Because Lily was a partially developed character from another novel, her character was a little easier. Bridger, on the other hand, needed some work.In my research for character development, I found a blogger whose advice is invaluable. Mellissa Donovan’s  post on tips for developing character joins us along with the trick I used for Bridger.
First, here are the places you can find the live copies of Burning Bridger. Go check them out and spread the word.

One of the first things I do to get to know a character is I find his wound. The thing that made him into the adult character I’m working with. This generally happens in adolescence. I write a short story, a page or so about the character at age 16 and look into their psyche. Here’s Bridger’s:

Bridger: 16
It didn’t look like any coffin
Bridger had ever seen. Twisted aluminum poles tangled with fractured nylon
scraps  . The sheared ends of cord matted
with blood. Why had he never seen it before?
When his father showed it off in
the municipal hanger three years earlier, it represented adrenaline. When it
took over every spare moment left between the old man and his son, it was a
canyon. When his father screamed relentlessly at Bridger for forgetting to
repair the wing, it was middle-aged true love.
Bridger sucked in a broken
breath. Had that been a mere week earlier, before the final flight? Tonight,
heaped in the driveway painted by the dying dusk it was a monument to his
Christian Bartholemew Jacoby, a
sleek, graceful choreographer of financial success in life. A tortured bloody
mass of broken relationships to mark his absence
Bridger winced at the sting
behind his eyes before the wind smeared the moisture across his cheek. Don’t. Don’t cry over him.
Dragging the back of his hand
across his face, Bridger bent over to collect the scraps from the driveway. It
had been sheer dumb luck he’d been pacing around his father’s classic car
collection when the recovery crew arrived. He was arguing with his urge to
either slash the ‘vette’s tires, or key the ’67 fastback when the flat bed
truck with the glider pulled up.
What the hell are you doing?” his
voice more of a shreak than a shout.
“Our orders say to bring the
recovered material to this address,” said the driver as he started the pistons
to raise the flat bed. His heavy jowels jostled with every word. His denim
cover-alls  smattered and torn,  bore a
dusting of the fine red silt caked over the broken hang glider. “I was sorry to
hear ‘bout the accident son. I hate doing this to people, but it’s my job to
recover and return your property.”
Bridger was about to sling the
battered contraption back onto the lowering bed, when he saw the blood. Rusty,
dried, caked blood; his father’s final offering.
“Bridger?” His name quavered off
of his mother’s lips as she stared down the walk into the drive way. “What’s
going on, darling?”
“Nothing mama, Just some old
equipment from Daddy’s workshop. I’ll haul it to the dump this weekend.”
Her eyes drilled into his back.
Their blue flames threatening to consume him for his lies. “I can get a bit of
cash for the aluminum.”
His gaze never left the blood
stained wing, his broad shoulders blocking it from his mother’s sight. Arms
crossed over his chest, He controlled the shaking  in his body. A low frustrated vibration which
threatened to take over. Tearing that thing apart would feel good. Energy,
anger and disappointment flowing after a lifetime of holding it back. Not now, he assured himself silently. Don’t let Mama see.
When the kitchen door clicked
shut and her Jazmin scent no longer wafted from the back porch, Bridger Let a
single tear fall. Leila would be back from Trish’s house any minute, he
couldn’t let her see the nightmare. She’d come apart again. His mother would
soon follow.
The tailgate of his truck, still
down after he’d unloaded the plantings for his mother’s Dogwood trees, accepted
the material and ground out the sounds Bridger wished he could make. As he
gathered the broken lines, ripped nylon and fragmented aluminum poles to load
them in the pick-up, a cold anger settled over his body. His father’s life in a
shattered heap. The way he lived.
Bridger thought. Pieces and Parts, never making up any thing that would glide,
soar,  or hold air. Just a metal garbage
collection. Almost real.
Almost worth holding onto.  Not worth anything in the end.


Now Here’s Melissa’s:

Character Tips by Melissa Donovan
Characters are the heart and soul
of every story.
Almost every great story is about
people. Plot, setting, theme, and every other element of fiction is secondary
to realistic characters that an audience
can connect with on an
intellectual or emotional level.
There are exceptions, of course.
Some readers enjoy plot-driven stories, but they never seem to achieve the
massive popularity that stories with rich, layered
characters achieve. Why do fans
adore Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen? Because they feel like real people.
We connect with characters in
fiction for any number of reasons. Maybe the character reminds us a little of
ourselves. We might love her because she represents
who we want to be, or we might
hate her because she reminds us of the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed
of. Some characters feel like friends; others
remind us of our enemies.
Some writers argue that it’s not
necessary for readers to connect or identify with characters in a story. That
might be true to some extent, but the most
beloved stories throughout the
history of literature are populated with characters we love and characters we
love to hate. There’s something to be said
for making readers care.
Character Writing Tips
Readers won’t care about
characters unless they are believable. So how do we make our characters
realistic? Why do the most celebrated characters seem so
real even though they are made
up? How have some writers managed to render animals, aliens, and even inanimate
objects into characters that we embrace
The answer is simple: the best
characters come with all the flaws, quirks, and baggage that real people
possess. They are not just names on a page. They
have pasts and personalities, and
they are unique.
Here are some character writing
tips to help you develop characters that feel like real people:
list of 12 items
1. Backstory: We are born a
certain way, but our life experiences continually mold and shape us. Each
character has a life before the story begins. What
is it?
2. Dialogue: The way we talk
depends on the language we speak and where we live (or grew up) but there’s
also something unique to each person’s style of
speaking. We repeat certain words
and phrases, inflect certain syllables, and make certain gestures while we
3. Physical Description: Our
primary method of identifying each other is the way we look; hair and eye
color, height and weight, scars and tattoos, and
the style of clothing we wear are
all part of our physical descriptions.
4. Name: Esmerelda doesn’t sound
like a soccer mom, and Joe doesn’t sound like an evil sorcerer. Make sure the
names you choose for your characters match
their personalities and the roles
they play in the story.
5. Goals: Some say that a
character’s goals drive the entire story. He wants to slay the dragon; she
wants to overthrow the evil empire. Goals can be small
(the character wants a specific
job) or big (the character is trying to save the world). Come up with a mix of
small and large goals for each character.
6. Strengths and Weaknesses:
Villains sometimes do nice things and heroes occasionally take the low road. What
are your character’s most positive and negative
behaviors and personality traits?
7. Friends and Family: These are
the people in our inner circles, and they have played important roles in
shaping our personalities and our lives. Who are
your characters’ friends and
family before the story starts? What new friends will they meet once the story
8. Nemesis: A nemesis is someone
with whom we are at odds. This character doesn’t have to be a villain, but the
goals of the nemesis definitely interfere
with your main character’s goals.
9. Position in the World: What do
your characters do for a living? What are their daily lives like? Where do they
live? What is a character’s role or position
among his or her friends, family,
or coworkers?
10. Skills and Abilities: A
character’s skills and abilities can get him out of a tight spot or prevent him
from being able to get out of a tight spot.
Skills can be useless or they can
come in handy. Does your character have an education or special training? What
can he do?
11. Gestures, Mannerisms, and
Quirks: One character chews her nails while watching movies. Another runs his
hand through his hair when he’s trying to figure
something out. Give your
characters identifiable quirks and behaviors, like real people.
12. Fears: An old fiction writing
trick is to figure out what your character is most afraid of, and then make the
character face it. We all have fears;
characters should, to How to Put These Character
Writing Tips into Practice?

Characters need to be detailed
and complicated in order to seem real. These character tips give you a lot to
consider, but how do you put them into practice?
You could tackle each idea as a
separate exercise. Write your character’s backstory one day. The next day, do a
page of dialogue to see how the character
speaks. Then spend some time
looking for a perfect name for your character. If you work through all these
tips as separate exercises, you’ll end up with
a robust character sketch, and
your character will be ready to enter the plot of your story.
Character sketches are by no
means mandatory. You could also start writing the draft of your manuscript and
see how each of these elements develops organically
for each character. During
revisions, you can check your narrative against this list to make sure the
characters are consistent and have all the depth
of real people.
How do you create characters? Do
you start with a character sketch or do you just start writing? Do you have a
checklist (like the one above) to help you

know and understand your characters? Got any
character writing tips to add to this list? Leave a comment, and keep writing!
Keep watching and leaving your e-mail addresses and I’ll have more tips and guest authors as we go.

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