Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Characters sometimes make the story

Congratulations to "Taurus", "Jennifer" and "Kimberly", the winners in Wendy's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I was thinking the other day about characters and how they make a book come alive. I think about the books I’ve read and how sometimes characters are the life and breath of the story. One of my favorite characters is Jack Reacher in the Lee Child series. He is alpha male to the max. He’s like Jack Bauer from the TV series 24, except he’s six foot five and over two hundred pounds. He solves problems in small towns, on dusty highways, in out of the way places by kicking butt and taking names. Whereas Jack Bauer in 24 both kicks butt and saves the world with his go-big-or-go-home philosophy. 

Not to forget about women in books, there’s Katniss in The Hunger Games, Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones diary, Eve Dallas in the J.D. Robb series and of course Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. They’re memorable. 

I also love when a character does the unexpected. The tough as nails Marine gets teary eyed when he encounters a wounded puppy. Jack Bauer shows a speck of emotion when he thinks Chloe might have betrayed her country. Katniss makes a life-changing decision regarding Peeta in The Hunger Games. You get the picture. They stretch outside their comfort zone. It’s what makes a character multi-dimensional.   

The old question about is the book plot driven, or character driven comes to the forefront. Sometimes it’s hard to tell. I love characters. I want to love them, hate them, be annoyed by them. Something to make me feel like I know them. I’ve included a short scene from my book, Hard to Kill, that shows the reader a totally different side to Sabrina. She’s tough and in charge 24/7, but sometimes, not so much, as you’ll see below. Because I love when characters do the unexpected. Who are your most memorable characters and why?

Jumping out of an airplane? She’d rather be thrown into a cage match with Attilla the Hun, and have people chanting ‘two men enter, one man leaves.’ than fly through the air. 

Boundryless. She didn’t do out of control. He should know that by now.

Heights petrified her. Ever since Max nearly died it had been her worst nightmare. 

Kane brought his hand behind her back, ushering her toward one of the planes. Her mind faded in and out as a bout of panic overwhelmed her. 

Sabrina glanced at Kane then out the window. She gulped, feeling the anxiety forced down her throat and into her gut. 

“Couldn’t we fly the plane in close and land like normal folks, not some crazy daredevils?”

His lips inched up in a slight smirk before he let loose a chuckle. 

“You think this is funny? I’m going to be covered in a cast from my neck to my toes and you’re laughing.”

He laughed again and she barely resisted the urge to pop him one. “After all the dangerous stuff you do, you’re scared about jumping out of a plane?” 

She folded her arms across her chest refusing to give in to his tease. “I don’t see the point. I’m sure there’s a better way to handle this.”

“We’re parachuting in because there’s no landing strip nearby. The place is in the middle of a forest with only a dirt road access. Besides, we don’t want to get too close and give ourselves away.”

The plane banked to the right then leveled out. Sabrina had a death grip on the seat cushion while the prospect of breaking every bone in her body seemed inevitable. 

“Would it be so bad to hike in?” She asked.

“Are you crazy? Look out the window. Do you honestly think we have the time to climb up and down those mountains? They know we’re getting close.”

“Really, I think—” He moved in behind her. The clink sounded seconds before  she opened her mouth and let out a blood curdling scream.

I will be giving away 3 copies of my ebook, Hard to Kill to commenters leaving a post or an email entry.

Author Links:


Trained as children to become assassins by the infamous Goren Petrovich, Sabrina Shaw and her two brothers have had a less-than-normal upbringing. After escaping his clutches, Sabrina and her brothers have tried to make a normal life for themselves. Now Sabrina works for an organization called The Alliance, specializing in the kind of jobs that no one else can or wants to do. Her current assignment: find the daughter of a prominent politician who has disappeared, categorized as a runaway by the authorities. It seems simple enough, until Sabrina uncovers the girl may have been the victim of a kidnapping that goes far beyond ransom requests. Now Sabrina must put her training to the test as she infiltrates a sex trafficking ring operating in Europe in order to find the girl…all while dodging a mysterious FBI agent and the demons from her own past.


Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Oct. 2nd. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway. 


  1. You're spot on, Wendy. Even if a book has a compelling story and richly described locales, without relatable, multi-dimensional characters, what's the point? It's like the author just served me a big hunk of black forest cake, but forgot the cherries and whipped cream. Loved your book and can't wait to read more!

  2. I love alpha males. Jack Reacher is one of my favorite characters because he fights for what is right, always sticking up for people in trouble, the weak, the helpless. He doesn't put up with any wrong doing and is never afraid to stand up to anyone. I like characters that make a difference, whether to an individual or a group of people.

  3. Loved the excerpt, can't wait to read the book. I love plots, especially paranormal plots that push me to the edge of believability. If in my twisted mind I can imagine that it can happen then I'm hooked.

  4. Thanks for the comments, ladies. Loved the analogy of black forest cake without the cherries and whipped cream! And Jack Reacher is my favorite as well. Love those books. I recently joined the International Thriller Writers and about fainted when I got an email from Lee Child (writer of Jack Reacher series). Of course it was a form letter because he's the co-president, but still...And wow you're right about paranormals...that's the whole point--could it possibly be true--the what if scenario when you can suspend disbelief and really start to believe there's vampires going to church and using holy water!

  5. I am the rarity, it seems, being a guy who likes the RS genre. I go for the character driven stories (and especially, series). I'll accept a medocre plot if the charcters grab. Until a few months ago, I'd have agreed on Reacher as my favorite character... and then I discovered Eve Dallas. No one else compares. Unlike Reacher, she doesn't come fully formed in the first book. She grows continuously throughout the series. The terrific humor in the books also adds to her persona. Eve Dallas - hands down.

  6. I agree. Eve Dallas is amazing. J.D. Robb does an incredible job with Eve's character arc for sure!

  7. Greetings!! Hard to Kill sounds like a great book. For me, the most memorable characters are those who are rich in personality, spirit and intelligence. Strong heroes and feisty heroines. Those women who love a man because they WANT to, not because they feel they need a relationship to complete them.

    Thank you for this awesome giveaway opportunity!!


  8. My fave characters are Eve Dallas and Roark in J.D. Robb's Death series. Talk about kicking butt and taking names later! When someone referred me to this series I was at first hesitant because it's set in the future and I've never been a huge fan of sci-fi. But I'm glad I took the leap and read the first one...when I became hooked on Robb's writing. Thanks for the interesting question and this post. I'm so glad I "met" you on this blog, Wendy.

  9. I with you and that I love characters! don't get me wrong, I don't want a story where they sit around and yammer around but I want growth and change and like you, a lot of surprises ;) Ummm... Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews comes to mind. She experiences a lot of personal growth and her spark w/ Curran makes the looooooong wait for their relationship worth it. Thanks for sharing! efender1(at)gmail

  10. Darcy and Elizabeth for how they were written

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

  11. Characters that are imperfect & struggle with internal demons are always memorable.