30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (5.2)

Presuming you are in the Writing part of this lesson or the Editing part, we’re going to take a step back and explore a subject deeper. Yes, this is procrastination, but of the educational sort.

Character 2.0

In this digital age, many exceptional artists have been known to record their art sessions and display them for fans to see the full creation. It is usually sped up, giving you an amazing presentation in a matter of minutes instead of hours and hours and hours. I’ve seen these and they blow my mind every time. It’s like a magic trick; you know how it’s done, but you could never recreate it so it would forever be amazing to you.

Today, I thought I would create something of the like for you to experience the depth of character growth–even when half of the information never even reaches the page.

Clockwork Dreams

In my novel, Clockwork Dreams, I created a race of characters known as ‘witches’. Because I write fantasy, these are not the people going around with voodoo dolls and newts in their stew. In fact, they are not human at all.

According to history, witches are born out of volcanos. They are quite literally magma creatures formed from limestone and breathing sulfur. Belonging to the infamous Unseelie Court of magic and mythology, witches are predominantly known to be evil or at least malignant creatures.

They present themselves in a human form, always female, because like the queen ant of a colony, they follow only one leader–a male warlock. Witches tend to be tall and thin, although there are the occasional rotund versions running around. Because their core is made up of magma, they are literally burning up inside. The more powerful the witch, the hotter the flame, so the skinnier they appear.

Appearance–Notable Qualities
Hair color. Similar to stars and fire which burn different colors according to heat, a witch’s hair will denote power. Most low level witches have ashen or black hair color, however, there are three high power types–known as ‘Mothers’–to be aware of.  A witch with red hair is a low level Mother, born from a cool or dormant volcano, while a yellow haired or blond witch burns hotter and is noticeably more powerful. At the top, of course, is the white haired Mother witch. She comes from an active volcano, is unnaturally tall and extremely slender, as if stretched. They do not have the bony, anorexic look that humans get when we are deprived of sustenance. On the contrary, witches are being fed generously by their blazing internal flames, and so are healthier the hotter they burn.

Witches speak the lost language of magic. Their powers are magic-based shadow, fire, and Black Magic elements. notably:
Fire blasts
Lightning strikes
Smoke screens
‘Cold’ fire–a trickery of flames which feel cold but will burn a human all the same
Shadow manipulation
Flight (without broomsticks, mind you)
Dream manipulation–an ancient art of invading someone’s dreams to uncover secrets. Think “Inception” or “The Last Witch Hunter”.

Abilities/Powers–Notable Qualities
Particularly strong power–or Mother–witches have access to the Underworld and can, at times, call on the evil spirits of old, ones that are still permitted to roam free on Earth.

Witches are incredibly vain, which makes sense, because their powers make them blaze beautifully; therefore, the stronger the power, the greater the beauty. They are also stuck up snobs, being stronger and superior to many races.

They hate humans, which are considered to be ‘mud men’–born of dust and the Breath of God. Also, because of the opposition against their Underworld king and master–a warlock. Not only this, however, there has been a rivalry between witches and humans since the Fall of Man and the Great Battle of the Heavens.

Their greatest goal has always been in the search of the next warlock. Warlocks are incredibly rare and only one exists at any given time. If no warlock is present on the Earth, they return to their volcanos–but the search is never off.


I raised up a few main characters as witches in the story, but I won’t spoil any surprise here. This is just to show you how much thought and consideration went into developing the characters to create a more believable world. I enjoy working with and using nature to grow elements of my stories. It is all well and good to say a witch is a ‘creature’ that has ‘dark magic’ and ‘fights humans’, but what does that tell the reader? Not much, I’m afraid. The more you can develop the foundation of your world, the stronger it will be.

But remember, not all of this needs to go into the story. If you as a writer knows the character, you will subconsciously portray the character with the right tools. Give the readers the facts they need, not a lot of superfluous information. The reader may not see everything, but they will believe it’s there if you do your homework right.

30 Days to Publishing

30 Days to Publishing (5)


This is the character development of your outline.

Supporting characters
Guides and/or guardians
Animal companion (optional)

You can break this down as detailed or as simplified as you need, but to have some statistics on hand is always helpful when you just cannot remember whether John’s eyes were green or blue, and you do not feel like going back to reread everything you last wrote.

Hair color
Eye color
Skin tone
Weapon of choice
Name & nicknames

This is a basic format and you can use all or some of these stats. It would be confusing to have Jane’s sandy blond hair in the beginning end up as dark as a raven’s feather in the twilight hours at the end. Your readers will pick up on that. Trust me. Now that is just scratching the surface of your characters. As you begin writing their stories, keep an open mind because even a well developed character might surprise you.

For instance, I once had a love interest turn out to be the evil villain. Who could have predicted that?

Moving on. There are a few fun exercises you can practice to develop your characters.

Create a dialog between your protag and antag. What would your protagonist want to ask the antagonist?

If your antagonist had a hobby, what would it be, and write a scene in which he/she/it is working on that hobby.

Explain in three sentences why the Guardian is helping your protag.

If your protagonist was villain for a day, write a paragraph or two of his/her goals. Why is he on that path? What drove him to the “dark side”? Does he continue down that destructive road, or does he reform in the end?

“What is the point of this,” you may ask. When you try to write your characters outside the realm of the story, you’re free to discover more. The reader may not know every detail of every character–indeed, they should not, some things are best left a mystery–but this will inhance your experience. You as a writer should never stop asking questions, you should never stop learning. Think of yourself as a talented journalist, willing to travel into the battlefield to get The Story of a Lifetime. Follow your characters around relentlessly, get inside their heads, haunt their dreams, become so connected to them that you almost become the serial killer on his angry rampage.

…On second thought, do not get that close. That is just a little frightful.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive one level deeper…

What will your character ultimately gain from this adventure?

What will they lose?

Pain can be a powerful driving force. Readers connect with characters that are struggling. Knock them off their pedastal a step. Some of the most iconic, well rounded characters have a difficult past.

I have never met a strong person with an easy past.

In my new book coming out, I delve into the whole idea of give and take. In order to earn something, you must lose something else, and the greater the gain, the bigger the loss. There is a battle of emotions, the anger against seemingly unfair circumstances, and the bitter resolve to accept their situation. But this is what makes the characters feel real. This is what makes them leap off the page and into your readers’ lives. Do not skimp on the pain your characters feel, do not gloss over it. Explore it, dig deeper, and ask the hard questions.

Are you ready? Get to work. Research, outline, and start developing your characters.

Homework today involves fleshing out your characters. Fill out the description sheet and play with some of those fun exercises, post in the comments section your progress. Do you find this helpful?

Good luck and Dream Big!