A few weeks ago, I had some friends over for drinks, food, and fun. Some of us were writers, so of course the topic turned to writing. Those that weren’t writers, asked us many questions, trying to figure out what went through our minds as we developed our plots and characters. I mentioned how writers needed to be psychologists. The other writers agreed that writers have an honorary degree in psycology, but this didn’t sit well with one of the women who is a psychologist. She wanted to know how writers, who didn’t spend all those years getting a psychology degree, think we could possibly know anything about psychology when all we’re writing is that . . . you guess it – smut.
So I went into my office and pulled out some of my books. You know, the ones that help us create those characters that jump off the page. When we create characters, we need to know them inside and out. What they look like. Their likes, dislikes. Their families. Their past and how it has affected them. What makes a person do bad things? What makes a person shy away from commitment? What makes a person angry, happy, sad? But what does psychology have to do with writing? Everything. We need to know a character’s past or their backstory – even if we don’t use everything we’ve learned about that character. It’s a character’s past that shapes them and how they react to the present. We need to know and understand what motivates our characters. Why they do what they do. Can they change and grow from their past?
If we know what a character fears, we can create conflict with that fear. Does she fear the dark because she was locked in the closet as a child. Now is someone trying to kill her and she has to hide in a closet. What is she feeling? Does it bring her back to her childhood? Does it bring back memories of a parent being killed while she hid in a closet. What memories area being triggered in the present? Can she overcome her fear? Does he fear commitment? Is it because his parents divorced? Or because they stayed together for the sake of the children and he had to suffer through their battles? Then let’s create conflict by putting him with a woman he’s beginning to fall for.
What do your characters want from life? What are their goals and why do they have those goals? Did your character grow up poor and now want money and security? Did you character grow up without a father and now wants a family to be the best father possible? Does your character want to correct a wrong from his past?
Was one treated differently than the other? Does your character want retribution from this? How does the other sibling feel about it? Did one sibling have to give up her life to take care of the other siblings? Was it because her parents were alcoholics or drug addicts? Did the parents die make her take charge? Or was it simply because she is the oldest and thinks she’s in charge. How does this affect the other siblings? Let’s not forget the psychology of pairing up characters and how their background affects how they react to each other. What would happen if we paired up a shy person with an out-going one? A creative person with one who is analytical? An adventurer with one frightened of her own shadow? What do we as writers, do to get them together for their HEA?
By the end of the evening, we had our resident psychologist agreeing with us. Did we convince to try and read a romance? Well, we’re still working on that one.
Most useful author tip: Don’t let other people’s opinions of what you write define you as an author. If you love writing romance, write romance. They don’t have to read it, but don’t let them badmouth your job or career.
Most successful promo tip: Besides writing romance, I also write history and children’s books. I find when I’m going to book events, it helps to set up my table according to the event. If it’s a romance author event, I usually just bring my romances, but if it is a general book event, I set up my table accordingly. My history and children’s books go to the forefront, while my romances to the back or side. It brings people to my table (because we know there are those who won’t stop when they see the romance covers). Then I can talk about everything I write.
From the time she was a teenager, Anita would sneak her grandmother’s romances and read them until all hours of the night. She never thought about creating one herself, but fell into it with a few friends. On a long road trip, they started talking about their favorite authors and why they like their books. To kill time, they started making up their own characters and plot.
From that point on, Anita had story ideas and characters filling her head. Finally, to shut them up, (or so she thought), she started writing them down, surprised at how erotic her characters wanted to be. Her first book with The Wild Rose Press, “South Seas Seduction,” was published in March, 2015. Her short story, “Surprise Me,” part of the Candy Hearts Series, was published in January, 2016. The continuing story, “Surprise Me Again,” was released on February 10, 2017.
Anita also writes romantic suspense as Tina Susedik. Find her here:
Charged with trespassing and indecent exposure on Erik Stenson’s private beach, Carson and Josie Sandberg return to South Padre Island to attend the court hearing. However, their reunion with Erik is not what they expected. An invitation for a drink turns into a weekend of passion that fulfills fantasies and leaves all parties wanting to explore more than bedroom bliss. Will time, distance, and family issues stand in the way of a relationship, or will they be surprised again?
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