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Well its day number two of the Wicked After Dark blog hop. I hope that you’ve all been hopping along from one little link to the next, entering contests and finding your new favorite author. I know that I’ve had so much fun seeing what my fellow authors have to say on a variety of wicked and wonderful topics. That being said, I’ve opted today to sound off on a topic near and dear to my heart. Characterization, I feel, is the most important criterion on which all literature is judged. Whether it be erotica, horror, romance or hard science-fiction, if we don’t have good characters, we don’t have a good story. What exactly put me in mind of this particular rant today? Well, as some of you that follow me on Facebook are aware, I’m a HUGE fan of “American Horror Story. “ It’s one of the few shows on television that I will watch faithfully. Well, that and reruns of “The Golden Girls.” AHS is infamous for having a confusing plot that has constant twists and turns. Some might say that the writers often flip the plot around purely for shock value. The idea is to find out what is really scary in American culture, twist it and then shove all those tropes into one complete story. That can sometimes lead the story to be kind of disjointed and confused, adding to that feeling of disorientation. What’s the glue that holds this complicated plotline together? The characters. Each and every person on that show, even down to the most minor asylum inmate jackin’ off in his cell, you can tell has an extensive backstory that add layers to him or her. Hell, even the building itself is a character, as demonstrated in the very first episode when it seemed that the abandoned asylum itself was attacking Adam Levine (remind me to thank the abandoned asylum later).
When I write, a lot of times, I have an idea of my hero first. I decide what sort of character he’s going to be: an alpha, a tortured junkie, a vampire with a toothache—whatever. I try to get to know the hero and sometimes, I’ll even write an entire page of backstory just for him. Now, I probably won’t use all of that, but it helps to have notes that outline his personality so that I can get in my head how he will react to every situation. I move through each of my characters this way until I have a handle on who these people are. Once I know that, it’s so much easier to design a plot. I believe this is what can help my readers connect with the story. If we don’t care about them, then we don’t care about the plot. It’s what separates horror from torture porn and erotica from pornography.
So—you’re a writer and you want to know how to craft these incredible heroes and villains? My advice: READ A BOOK! That’s right, I’m talkin’ to you, writer girl/ boy. You have to read a book to write a book. I suggest Stephen King (of course, y’all know I love me some Steve), Harlan Ellison, Anais Nin, Stephen Zimmer and Anne Rice. Those are my favorite giants of characterization, but there are literally thousands of authors out there who do an incredible job with it. And then—get off yer ass and write the damn book!
So I’ve promised you all, as part of the blog hop, to hand out little excerpts of some of my releases because YOU could be the winner of one of my books as a shiny, new PDF. All I ask is that you follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook (see links below) and leave me a message telling me your email so that I can put you in the running to win. I’m also experimenting with Rafflecopter, so you can opt to enter using the little widget right here on the blog. Don’t worry, I’ll be choosing from a pool that encompasses both entry ways, so don’t worry if you’ve already entered. I just want to make it as easy as possible. But anywhoo…. On with the excerpt. Our excerpt today is from my second release, a sexy selkie tale entitled “Second Skin.” I chose to give you a little taste of what I’ve been talking about with an excerpt that paints a picture of the most sexy Jack Leannan:
Jack Leannan wasn‟t like anyone I had ever met before. And I think I knew we were going to sleep together from the moment I saw him. We met briefly at a dinner party and I was instantly fascinated. He was quite a bit older than I, but it didn‟t affect his allure at all. The silvery strands at his temples only served to highlight the cool blue composure of his eyes. His body was solid, a telltale sign of one who took care of himself, but not overdone. He had a quiet grace that gave him an air of mystery and dominance. His accented voice was low with just a tinge of gravel that had me drooling with his first hello. We stood around in the same circle of strangers, exchanging shallow niceties and bored expressions. He didn‟t say a lot, merely commented when spoken to. I noticed him laugh quietly to himself at inopportune times and it endeared him to me, though I was afraid to engage him in conversation.
I didn‟t notice when everyone else had left the circle and I still stood there, holding my glass of wine and staring at Jack. It was as if the entire world had disappeared around us and I couldn‟t care less. “Miss Spencer? Are you alright?” He spoke to me and I started. I hadn‟t realized that he even knew my name.
“Catherine. Please call me Catherine,” I said, somewhat robotically as I pushed the words from my lips.
He smirked, one eyebrow quirking. “Are you sure we know each other well enough for that?”
“I‟ll risk it,” I replied.
“As long as we‟ve set the ground rules.” With another smile he offered his hand and we shook politely. I tried to let go, but he held on tight and then pulled, leading me to a couch nearby. “I hate parties,” he said casually as he motioned for me to sit. “Standing around talking to strangers was never my forte.”
“You seem to be doing well so far,” I replied, taking a seat.
“If you‟ll notice, the only person I‟ve actually spoken to is you.” He sat down sideways on the cushion beside mine, turning towards me in a comfortable fashion.
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