Monday, November 4, 2013

Straight to Hell Blog Tour: Guest Post

If you guys have known me long enough, you'd know by now that the first ever blog tour I hosted here was for the "Straight to Heaven" book release that was independently published back then, and so I'm super excited to know that 'Straight to Hell' is being published by Carina Press!

Title:   Straight to Hell
Author:   Michelle Scott
Release Date:   September 8th 2011
Publisher:   Carina Press 

Buy Now: Amazon and Amazon UK.

Goodreads Synopsis:

The moment Lilith Straight dies, the Devil appears to claim her soul and cash in on a family curse. Now, Lilith has no choice but to work for him. The job is bad, the boss is worse and she can’t imagine how she’ll explain her new reincarnation to her eight-year-old daughter. But then an arrogant, yet oh so yummy, incubus shows up…and hell heats up just a little more.

Now onto the guest post:

Writing Characters

Socrates is given credit for the adage, “Know thyself.”  While this is an important mandate, I have an even more important mandate to writers: “Know thy characters, and know them well.” 
Too often, writers write about themselves instead of creating a separate character (thus my hatred of books with authors as main characters.)  Sorry to say, we writers are not interesting, but our characters are, and it’s the main character whom the audience wants to read about. 
Knowing your main contract will determine much of what you write.  For example, the Harry Potter books are about Harry Potter (who else?)  But what if they were the Ron Weasley books instead?  The events might be similar, but the details would be vastly different.  Not just because Ron and Harry were at different places at different times and therefore had different experiences.  No, because Ron and Harry are completely different people. 
At first, getting to know your characters can be awkward.  It’s like you’re on a blind date.  You might have some idea of what your character looks like, and what his/her name is, but the rest is generally a blank.  You’ve got to spend time with them because if you don’t know them, your novel won’t take flight. 
When I started writing Straight to Hell, the only thing I knew about Lilith was that she’d been run over by a car and sent to Hell.  Her love of designer clothing, her disgust at her ex-husband, her abandonment issues, and the fact she has a cat named Drinking Tea all came later on.  Writing a character is like coloring inside a black-and-white outline of a person.  The more you work with the picture, the more realistic it becomes. 
So how do you make this connection happen? 
Like any relationship, the author/character bond develops over time, and you learn about your character the way you would learn about anyone else.  When I start on a new project, I study the main character.  I think about what they’re wearing, what’s in their purse or pockets, what music they enjoy, and even how they answer the phone.  I try to listen for their voice.   These observations help me get a general feel of what this person is like. 
My next step is to watch how they interact with others.  For example, Lilith loves her daughter and lights up whenever Grace walks into the room.  But her shoulders slump when her niece, Ariel, enters because Ariel is almost always in trouble or causing trouble.  Lilith loves her father – he’s her main support system – but has an antagonistic relationship with her stepsister.  Watching your character for clues – eye rolls, sighs, smiles, grins – when others are around will teach you a lot about them. 
Here’s a terrific bit of advice I once heard: figure out what makes your character angry.  For Lilith, it was minor things like a messy house and having someone (her stepsister) borrow things without asking.  Then there were big issues like her relationship with her mother, and the fact that no one in Hell saw fit to ask her permission before turning her into a succubus. 
After these three steps, I have a pretty good idea of what my character is like, but I usually want to go deeper.  That’s because I love complex, interesting characters.  The final step I take is to question them.  Not just questions about what they like or don’t like, but questions like, “Whom do you most admire” or “If your house was on fire, and you could only rescue one thing, what would it be?”  Answers to these kinds of questions can bring a lot of insight. 
Remember, who your character is will determine how they see their world and how they respond to the events in your novel.  If you don’t know your characters, your audience won’t know – or care – either. 


Michelle Scott received her MFA from Wayne State University.  Her stories have appeared in such places as “Tales of the Unanticipated”, “All Possible Worlds” and “Realms”.  Straight to Hell, the first book in her Lilith Straight urban fantasy series, will be released from Carina UK on Oct. 24.  Michelle lives in southeast Michigan with her husband and three children. 

To keep up with Lilith and the other members of the Straight to Hell cast, visit Michelle’s blog, Urban Fae

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