Portraits for NaNoWriMo

As you work on your first draft for NaNoWriMo, you might run into writer’s block or at least a snag. If that problem concerns creating a character, check out these portraits for NaNoWriMo that I’ve selected. When I’m looking for a new character, I need a face that captures my attention and makes me wonder about a personality that might fit with it. If one of these portraits inspires a character, let me know!

I like the expression on the girl’s face. She’s either watching something or daydreaming. Either way, the portrait gives you a sense of the mind behind the face.

Maybe a good heroine for a historical or fantasy story?

For more character portraits for NaNoWriMo, click here.

Creating Christian Characters

Along with my new theme for the month, I have a new author to introduce to you, Rocklyn Grace. Rocklyn has recently published her first Christian novel and writes about creating Christian characters. Welcome, Rocklyn!

I am a new author, and I am a Christian. I decided to enter the world of writing Christian Fiction because when I read that literature, I saw beautifully created characters. I also saw characters who did not strike me as “real” in the scheme of life and living in the world.

On the pendulum, some had the proverbial “thorn in the flesh”; some had other issues concerning prayer, understanding the Bible, or church attendance. On the opposing swing of characters, I saw characters so caught up in spiritual matters that the plot of the novel would be consumed by that which is “unseen”–angels, demons, and such interactions. 

Don’t get me wrong here: I loved reading those books. 

I noted, however, an opportunity for myself to create a Christian character that might reach a slightly wider audience — an audience that dips into both arenas of believers and unbelievers.

Thus, I crafted my goal: Create reality in my Christian characters. That is, they have the following characteristics:

  • They are believers who are highly flawed in some way — or many ways. 
  • They do not live easy lives. 
  • They struggle to read the bible sometimes. 
  • They question God even though they are convinced of His existence. 
  • They might struggle to pray or even utter a curse word in between a quick beseech of God for some much-needed grace and mercy.

In fact, one of my characters may outright sin and suffer consequences thereof, but the same character will also experience strength in weakness and the redemption, the table set before him/her found because of walking through death’s shadow.

How much greater the reconciliation when the reality of life is actively engaged by a character, and thereby, a reader. 

Here is my crafting process, or the questions I answer for him/her: 

  • What “flaw” will my character struggle with? 
  • How does that affect their actions? Their words?
  • Their laughter and joy? 
  • How does that affect their interactions with an antagonist? Another protagonist? A parent? A sibling? A husband/wife or fiancé?
  • How does it affect their reactions to types of trauma to themselves? Toward others? 
  • Ultimately: How does the flaw manifest in everyday situations? 

And finally, how does the redemptive power of Jesus rescue, heal, and help the character? How does that affect others around the character?

Once I have my character created — with those questions answered, it’s then a fantastic journey to write their story, let them face challenges, and always find Jesus.

*****

Soaring Eagle dreams of reuniting his family and his western rural tribe despite the dystopian government restrictions that have forced them apart. In his efforts to pursue his goals, his plans are thwarted by his capture and a young woman who saves him from certain execution in the only way the laws of her sector allow: marriage. His entire life is upended, his secrets exposed, and now Soaring Eagle must seek a new pathway to his dream. How can he unite his family without losing the woman he also desires?

*****

Rocklyn Grace lives in the beautiful mountains of Colorado where life is wildly free and beautifully peaceful. She raised two sons with her husband. Together, they fill the empty nest with rock music and loud praise. Rocklyn loves morning coffee, sunsets in the cool evenings, and the interruption of a moonbeam across the living room late at night. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

NaNoWriMo Prompts for Characters

If you need NaNoWriMo prompts for characters, look no further! If I need a character who has more than a walk-on part, I also need a face I can see clearly to go with this character. If your creative spark has dimmed to a cinder and you need a few more characters, check out the gallery of portraits from Pixabay. You may rekindle your inspiration!

I love the expression on this little guy’s face.
I find this face intriguing. He could fill in for Gandalf.

For more prompts for characters, click here. Where do you find inspiration for characters?

When a Character Takes Over

If you let your imagination soar during NaNoWriMo, you run the risk of a character hijacking your story. Maybe you’ve read about other writers who have had characters appear out of nowhere, fully formed, as if someone has air-dropped them into their brains. Don’t let it worry you. When a character takes over, you may find yourself with a much better story. That was my experience while writing my YA mystery A Shadow on the Snow.

My main character nineteen-year-old Rae Riley has just discovered who her father is and is getting to know her sprawling, extended family. Her thirty-seven-year-old father Mal has an eighty-year-old grandfather. A former lineman, Mal is built like a grizzly bear, and since he shares his name with his grandfather–Walter Reuel Malinowski–I wanted them to share physical characteristics too. Personally, I didn’t know any big elderly men who looked like former football players. Usually, I have to see a character as clearly as I do people in reality to feel comfortable writing about them, I had to have some person to fill the spot in my story, at least temporarily, so I picked Clint Eastwood because I knew he was a tall man and I’d seen photos of him in his eighties.

I began writing. Next thing I knew, Walter was in charge.

Every scene he was in he took center stage. As I wrote dialogue, I felt more like I was taking dictation than imagining the conversation. (Yes, we writers hear voices in our heads, but we know they’re not real. Most of the time.)

As I wrote, Walter’s appearance changed. The Clint Eastwood looks disappeared. The man I saw in my mind was as broad and intimidating as a tank with deep-set eyes and aggressively square jaw. And this change was not conscious thinking on my part. He transformed without me realizing it.

What’s more, he was fun to write. His blunt, harsh, mean personality was such a contrast to Rae and Mal. But I knew he was more than just a bully and enjoyed exploring all the facets of his character. I worked him into more scenes and the book benefited from his larger presence. But I had to remember that ,while important, Walter was still a minor character. If I didn’t keep tight control of him–something he would swear no one could do–he’d run amok and change my entire novel.

I wasn’t the only one who Walter won over. Two of my beta readers singled him out as one of their favorite characters. I’m looking forward to including him in my next mystery.

For more tips on writing characters, click here.

Who are some minor characters that you love?

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