Saturday, April 19, 2014

Testing Character Development? Pull Excerpts

There are many articles on how to effectively develop characters.  At the bottom of this post, I’ve included links to articles that I’ve found particularly helpful.  The purpose of this post is to share one tip that I find useful.

The introduction of a character needs to be sufficient and consistent with the appearances of the protagonist throughout the entire story--beginning to end.  To test how well (or how poorly) I’ve done, I like to pull excerpts from the novel that describe the physical attributes of a particular character or describe the character reacting to various situations.  This not only helps me determine if I’ve been consistent and sufficient with the way I want to portray him or her, but it also helps me assess whether the character is compelling, interesting, and believable.

Below are excerpts from CYBER ONE, a novel I’m currently writing, that describe the primary protagonist, Miles Stevens.  They were taken from three different chapters.  Do you think they are sufficient and consistent?

CYBER ONE-A Miles Stevens Novel #2
His body was hardened from months of grueling training. Moisture funneled to the center of his chest and rippled over his abs before disappearing into the waistband of his trunks.     

Miles had studied French and Russian while an undergraduate at Yale and was conversationally fluent in both, but he found learning Arabic much more difficult. He hoped that he’d only need to learn to speak the language. Learning to read it, or even worse, to write it, would be nearly impossible in just a few months.  The right-to-left, back-to-front Arabic printing seemed illogical.   

To pass the time, Rian went to sit beside the pool with a magazine, while Tamir and Miles conversed in Arabic.  Miles had continued to work not only on vocabulary, but also on improving his inflection and tone.  At six-two with dark brown hair and tanned skin, Miles could almost pass for an Arab, except for his piercing blue eyes.  

His blood was pumping. It was a nervous energy he hadn’t felt in months. He loved the challenge of a new mission.  It was like combining the strategy of chess with the endurance of a triathlon. Miles also harbored hope that Terri might somehow be involved in his next mission, or that he would at least learn her status. 

While excited to learn his next mission, Miles was headed into uncharted waters.  He knew little about computer technology, and frankly, didn’t want to know.  His strength had been sorting through political, governmental, and personal conflicts. He liked hunting down bad guys, not deciphering computer code.   

He no longer wondered about his past.  His memory had returned weeks ago, and Miles was fully aware he had no family waiting for him if and when he was able to return to his natural time and place. 

A tall, tanned, and striking-looking couple, Rian and Miles had heads turning as they carried their trays across the cafeteria to sit at a table next to a wall of windows.  

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