Characterization: Adding Drama, Flesh, and Fun

In my book, White Light, I play on the difference between characters. The contrast of age, belief system and personal needs brings out the best and sometime the worst in them.

The Characters Source for drama:

  1. Emma: A young woman who is emotionally and socially stunted inherits a house.
  2. Great-Aunt Alice: A ghost, psychic and murder victim leaves her best friend alone and her grandniece with a new start.
  3. Mrs. Perkins: An older woman who has outlived her peers needs a new reason to get up each morning and takes Emma under her wing.

Three women: One older woman alive, one older woman passed on, and one spider-web-309451_1280young woman beginning her adult life.

And they all need each other to get what they want.

In this case it is to solve a murder.

Not all mysteries are dark and in my case I wanted to add some laughs making the work more of a beach read.

Adding the fun

I’ve included a few quotes to hopefully, and here’s where I cross my fingers, show you my approach in lightening the mood. Emma has just failed Mrs. Perkins’s psychic ability test.

I turn on my heel and take the cleaver back to the kitchen. I’m not sure if putting it back where I found it is a good idea. Would Mrs. Perkins prefer to wash it before it is put away? As I’m mulling this over, Mrs. Perkins enters the kitchen still tucking her blouse into her slacks.

Her slippers slap the floor tiles as she heads for the coffeepot. “I still don’t understand what took you so long. I should’ve had a plan B, apparently you are unreliable.”

“Unreliable? Me? What were you doing all tied up in the hall closet anyway?” I drop the cleaver in the drawer.

Mrs. Perkins still doesn’t believe Emma isn’t psychic and pushes Emma into doing readings like her Great-Aunt Alice.

A blazing sun overhead suggests a warm summer’s day. Mrs. Perkins tends her Lily of the Valley with a small purple watering can. “Oh, good you’re up. Stay right there.” She puts the can down and pulls off her gloves, pointing a forefinger skyward which I’m interpreting as hold on for a moment. She smiles and goes in her back door.

I rub my eyes and take in the deep blue sky through the high leaves. The wonderful drone of a lawn mower in the distance soothes me.

I sit on a patio chair, put my feet up on a planter, sip my coffee, and am almost asleep again when Mrs. Perkins calls from her yard.

“Here’s a handful of messages for you.” She waves little slips of paper at me. “Make sure you call each one of them back. They made me promise.”

I carefully put my mug down on the cement and join her at the fence, scanning the top message. “This is asking for a reading. We talked about this.”

“Yes, but it isn’t up to me to tell them. That’s up to you.”

I didn’t start this. She made this mess. “This is getting out of hand.”

“I didn’t start this.”

I slap my forehead. “Yes you did.”

“Well, I didn’t mean to.”

Now that I believe. I read a few more messages, and, when I glance up, she’s gone back to her flowerbed. “Oh, no, you’re not getting out of this that easy. Come back here. Put the can down and talk to me.” My gaze drops down to my toes. I’m wearing neon green nail polish.

Omigod! I didn’t do that.

Now, I need her for a different reason. “Mrs. Perkins…Millie…I’ve had another episode.”

Fleshing them out takes timered-lips-1213161_1280

I know a lot about my players and what I know about them helps me keep them in character and push the story forward. By the time the book was edited and published they were living breathing people.

What do you do to enhance the drama, flesh out the characters, and lighten the mood? All of us are dying to hear. πŸ™‚

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23 responses to “Characterization: Adding Drama, Flesh, and Fun

  1. I think you did a great job in White Light, so your helpful hints are spot on.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. Your character descriptions are enticing and those quotes–very clever. It sounds like a great story.

  3. It certainly sounds like you fleshed out your characters well. πŸ™‚

  4. Throwing characters into uncomfortable situations definitely heightens the drama, and those little comic touches like the part about the closet are great for lightening up the mood. I think that first scene with the closet is my favorite scene in the book. I’ve always agreed with the old saying that actions speak louder than words. You can learn a lot about a character by their actions in any given situation. It’s really wonderful when characters come alive that way. Like yours. πŸ™‚

  5. These are always tough questions for me to answer, because I write what pops into my head. I never think about it, or “try” to do anything–it almost feels like my characters are real and are telling me the story. My job is just to be their personal secretary.

    Sounds weird, but it works for me. πŸ™‚

  6. I write plays, so physical humor is always fun. Nothing like a big spill or people colliding! Also, a character with a quick wit will create a good chuckle. I liked your use of the supernatural in White Lightning. Yesterday, I had an inspiration for using spirits in a play and started jotting down some dialog.

  7. Those teasers are so much fun! I love adding humor, and I agree not all mysteries need be dark.

  8. I love the cleaver discussion. And to flush out character I spend lots of time outlining them and asking lots of what ifs for reactions to certain tension in the books. For drama, I have been using a really great workbook on structuring the novel. It’s helped me develop foreshadowing in plot points and what scenes push along each ACT. πŸ™‚

  9. Intriguing characters and even more so when they’re put together. I usually know my characters very well, but if I don’t I’ll journal in their voices to get inside their heads.

  10. jennifer@badbirdreads

    I love little funny parts to lighten the mood.

  11. The head spins with all the ways this odd trio could clash and complement.

  12. Beautiful….. ☺

If you're new to writing, ask me anything and if you're experienced, feel free to share what you know. Learning something new in the craft is always welcome.

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