Dead Dreams by Emma Right
Eighteen-year-old Brie O’Mara has so much going for her: a loving family in the sidelines, an heiress for a roommate, and dreams that might just come true. Big dreams–of going to acting school, finishing college and making a name for herself. She is about to be the envy of everyone she knew. What more could she hope for? Except her dreams are about to lead her down the road to nightmares. Nightmares that could turn into a deadly reality.
I think it was the cover of Dead Dreams that really sucked me in, but I also really loved the potential for a fabulous character that I saw in Brie O’Mara. So I asked Emma if she could tell us a little more about the character and perhaps how she came to being. I hope you enjoy her response as much as I did!
How to make a character believable and realistic
*Written by Emma Right*
There’s a huge difference between an action oriented thriller and a psychological suspense mystery, which is what Dead Dreams is. Most of this is due to the character development of the protagonist–in this case, Brie O’Mara.
People in fiction are still people—they sleep, eat, suffer from pain and troubles, and have back story. The only difference is that their creator (the author) can manipulate events so they are sometimes forced to choose the obvious path laid out for them.
Before crafting a character I think about the person and ask questions—sort of like an interview to see if the character is fit to “star” in my book. Generally, I don’t like morally corrupt or unethical protagonists! If it’s not someone I could invite home for coffee I wouldn’t want him or her as my hero or heroine. Even if the protagonist is stupid, she must at least have some redeeming “star” quality–sort of like the “X” factor.
So after writing a character trait list, I find out the motivations for the character—what makes her tick, and why she would do the things she does. It’s like being a psychologist and I tear the psyche of the person apart to find the basic roots of what had influenced her and why she thinks or aspires toward a certain bent.
Take Brie O’Mara in Dead Dreams for instance who, behind the mask of clean living and sheltered life, hid a dream to become something bigger than what her present circumstance allowed her. She wanted to have her dreams fulfilled more than she realized and this caused her to unconsciously ignore the signs—her eyes are blinded, so to speak. In her defense, she had a lot to deal with at the time—family issues, work problems, money concerns, a broken heart pining for a long-gone boyfriend, she was over worked and lacked sleep, and it’s when things come together like this that it’s hard for a person (in this case a character in a book) to think clearly and evaluate with a cogent mind.
One of the ways to make a character realistic is to put myself in the character’s shoes. And see through the lens of the character’s eyes. I can see myself overlooking warning sign, just like Brie did, when I am pressed and under a lot of strain. (Hopefully, I won’t be as gullible–but then again, I am not eighteen!)
There are many other tips on creating a “round”, as opposed to a “flat” character, like giving the personality a rich back story. Of course, we, authors, have to be careful not to regurgitate the entire history of the character in one chapter, or worse, in the first chapter. Just tiny drizzles like syrup on a pancake is sufficient to flavor the personality just enough to add flavor but not drench her and the story with overwhelming insignificance.