Author, writing coach, and actress Angelique L'Amour joins us once again for a deep dive in the concept of character creation. If you are an aspiring writer, or a more experienced writer who just wants to brush up on the craft of character creation, you are in for a treat. Angelique gives out a TON of priceless information to help you do just that.
And stay tuned after the interview the a new podcast feature called BookEnds, where Craig and Scott do a debrief of the episode and talk a bit more about both the craft of writing and their own experiences in the industry.
Referenced throughout the podcast is a character creation worksheet created by Angelique that you can get for free by visiting her website and signing up for her emails. And, unlike many mailing lists, this is one you'll benefit from, especially if you are a writer and interested in improving your craft.
Find her at angeliquelamour.com
You're listening to the Good Sentences, the podcast that's guaranteed to tickle your literary ear holes and make you wish you'd listen to dear old mom when she said to put down those lawn darts and learn how to read. And now, here are your hosts, neither of whom listened to dear old mom, This is Craig A. Hart and S J. Varengo.
Thank you for going back on. I can't believe you braved us once again.
You guys are fun.
I told him the phrase I can't believe you fell for it again.
You're probably trying to try to get me to say no. What is it? Anybody who'd have me as a member, I shouldn't--
Yeah, Groucho Marx.
I'm just so happy when someone invites me to something. Introverted people, we kind of like Oh, yeah, Well, really nice. Somebody invites you to something, and you could just sort of go. Yeah, love to do that. I was impressed. You guys asked me again. I was like, Really? This is kind of cool. I must have done something right.
You were great. You were. You're I mean, unfortunately for me just timing and that the insane schedule that Craig put together for doing the interviews for the old show, I only got to participate in a handful. But of the ones I did, yours was one of them. And I just had so much fun. I was like, This is gonna be great. This is a great thing to do it. If everybody is like this,
And not everybody is.
And not everybody was.
I have a character in the book that I'm working on right now that I use the term water from a stone thio because everything just does not know how to relate. And so he does since, like so did you. Did you know someone? So when you were younger? Yes. Yeah, right. Yeah. And I understand there's certain there's something there. So I'm gonna see certain actress very famous in Los Angeles for walking out on interviews if even dare to mention something that his own his do not mention list. Do not ask me about this. He will get up and leave, and he's a one word answer guy anyway. So, like, I figure I get to do half the job here. You ask the questions and I try to be, you know, interesting and exciting.
Talking about us asking the questions, we were hoping that you were so good on last interview. This would be more of just a conversational visit.
Absolutely--something touched on last time, which was the creation of character and how important that is to the writing process. And you kind of lean led into it with talking about the project you're working on now with character. Do you think it's possible to overstate the importance of character to a piece of writing?
You go back to one of those one word answers.
So I can I just riff on this for a few minutes?
You may. Absolutely.
In fact, in my prep notes. I use the word "get her to riff on."
So I'm gonna I'm gonna delve into I'm gonna mix up writing and fiction and theater have to I have to approach it that way. So number one I would say the best. The best example of this is you can take Oh, I like scifi. Oh, I like history. Oh, I like reading about. You know, I like reading historical novels. I like reading mysteries. Whatever you gravitate towards a genre, perhaps, but you don't relate to the genre. You don't pick up ah, mystery simply because it's a mystery. You pick it up because something you either know the character because it's a Siri's or something on that cover connects you to the human being having the human experience in this sort of extreme reality.
You know, where is we can just sort of go. Okay, Well, this morning I got up and I went to the store, and I came home. And, you know, it's an episode of Seinfeld, right? And we loved it, and it was very successful in very funny, But what, you're really relating? Thio, even on Seinfeld is not, you know, the soup Nazi, right? It's the frustration with Elaine trying to get soup and George try and get soup on, you know, So it's it's still character. Now I love using Hamilton as this example because whether or not you have seen the show her the show, you know of the show. It's kind of like seeing Harry Potter as as an example. What when Manuel Miranda did was he got us to relate to the founding father who began the treasury.
That's a pretty tall task right there.
Got up at the White House and they expected him to do something. I think they expected him to do something from in the Heights. And he said, I'm gonna do something from a show I'm working on right now. I'm gonna rap about Alexander Hamilton thinking this your vehicle and see everybody in the audience going What starts, you know, how did, Uh, can I can I use fell language? How did about or son of a war and a Scotsman dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence impoverished in squalor grow up to be a hero and a scholar? And you're like, OK, I wanted out. Yeah, by with nothing, you know, became this. And then through music, through all of it, we relate more and more to the characters, so you could have a great event. And my dad was really, really excellent with beginning with something happening instantly in that first sentence. Is there something happening? But if you don't relate to that character within that first sentence or two. You're kind of okay, so it all comes back to that when I was training as an actress, the same thing. You're starting with the words on the page, but what makes me special is how I interpret the wants and goals and desires and frustrations of that character and who I decide. Guided by the written word. That character is to be so to me. I don't relate. Yeah, I love reading stories about the Civil War. OK, great. I love reading things that air set during World War Two or doing the Edwardian period of the Victorian period, or like reading, you know, something that has a really good, exciting mystery. I like reading Erik Larson sometimes, like I, you know. But what I'm connecting to is not that what I connect to is the character. So there's Ah, wonderful author named Tasha Alexander, and she has a series of books that she's written about a character named Lady Emily. And Emily starts out the very first book. Her husband dies, and she believes it's murder. And she is someone who could have been very unrelated ble in some ways she grew up wealthy her mother's friends with Queen Victoria. She's not like she's runs in this circle at this time, But this woman is having this very riel experience. Her husband has died. It looks like it's like everything set up to make it look like it's like he got sick and she's like going This doesn't seem right And so I'm like, Well, why doesn't seem right to you, you know, and you're connecting with this character and we want to live vicariously live through. We see somebody who's gone through something similar or something we hope never happens to us. But it intrigues us, and we want to see how they go through it and how they change, how they grow, how they handle the situation. It's the same thing for memoir. We read memoir because we want to understand that person's very human experience. We read fiction because we want to understand that character's very human experience that maybe is a little more exciting, frustrating or scary than our own. But it's there's something about that that connects to us,
And you mentioned Erik Larson how this applies also to nonfiction how you know if you were just to say, I'm gonna write about tell you what happened during X period of time. It might be interesting from an academic standpoint, but he turns it into art by the use of putting us into that time through characters and looking through the eyes of those characters.
One of my favorite nonfiction books that's called The Speckled Monster And It is about It says it's his historical tale of battling small boxes. The sub. But what it really follows is so he has smallpox used to come in waves, and it would come through like every year, and it would wipe out people right and back in, like so I need 1720, 1721, 22, 23. On both sides of the Atlantic, there was a doctor in America. There was a noblewoman in England who both started vaccinating people against smallpox. I guess you would say inoculating. She went with her husband, who was she had had a small box. She had been the most beautiful woman in the world, like everybody would talk about Lady and his lady Montague Worley. How stunning she was. So in my mind, I cast it with Nicole Kidman, but just someone who's just truly, truly just like Oh my gosh, can she had She was married and she got smallpox and she was completely disfigured and never went without a veil again. Okay, But her husband becomes. I don't believe ambassador to Turkey, and she goes with them to Turkey. And she's a very interested woman and she's very excited and an interesting This is true story. She decided to tour around assemble, and she found this man who I believe is a doctor who was kind of sort of talking to her and telling her all about his symbol. And she was learning. Her husband was doing all the stuff he had to do officially, and they had a three year old son and Hugh. She wanted to go to the bats, so he found someone who could take her into the bath. So she's in there and her, you know, high collar long sleeve, the whole thing. And all these women are walking around naked and none of them are scarred in any way, shape or form. And she can, you know. And they're naked so she can tell. Right? Right. As to the woman and took her in their door, she says to him afterwards. She's like, You know, why does nobody have smallpox scars? Because in England there everybody has small parts scars or most do and you know, some people worse than others. And of course, she's still wearing her veil. And he says, because we do this and talks to her teachers her about inoculation. And she wants to do this to her three year old son, and her husband says, Absolutely not. What intrigues us in this story is this woman. In this early 17 hundreds, who's going? I'm going to become a doctor and she goes back to England and she is pilloried. People are throwing things that are in the street, but then they're knocking on your backdoor, saying, Can you, uh, can you help my Children? So it's it doesn't matter. What we're reading were relating to Peep relating to each other. That's why the storyteller around the fire, he's a storyteller around the fire that everyone listens to write because they're talking about people. And the reason why kids related to Hamilton and then I mean, my daughter, my daughter is one of them. My oldest went, you know, had government senior year in high school and really, really impressed her government teacher because she knew everything about the treasures getting of the treasury And why, why Washington D. C. Was the the capital. And I feel like it, how that happened and about the Federalist Papers, the whole thing. And he's like, Wow, you're you know, like you're really King was really really impressed with her and she was coming home. It put it in her mind in a different way and kids related to it. The kids knew it, you know, they remember it. And thats whatever history teacher gets wrong. Like did you know, unless we want to know about 17 76? But we really need to know that every single man in that room in Philadelphia signed the Declaration of Independence. But what did he sign? He signed his own death warrant. He signed a piece of paper that said, I am rebelling against the king. Put me to death. If I lose, that's a whole different story. Other than this is the group of people who signed the declaration.
Ben Franklin is that we should all hang together or we shall all hang separately.
Yes, exactly. Exactly. So I think. I think you can't separate good story from good character on the topic of character and somebody.
A writer, maybe listening. Who wants to work on character through your days as a writing coach? What is something that you could tell somebody to do? Exercises or what? Something to pursuit to brush up on that a bit.
Well, they could go to my website and sign up under four, right?
And they should and they should.
That's a great thing. Um, and my newsletter. Then, um, I would say there's three really, really big character things that every character has or does. Every character through the course of the story, for the most part, changes or nothing's happened. It might solidify an opinion, but But they've gone through something t that, and they will not go against what they believe what they perceive to be their own best interests. Very interesting conversation. When I was teaching my class at the Dallas Fort Worth writer's conference with a man who said to me, What about a Marine? Is it in his best interest to jump on a grenade? And I said, Who in this room is in the armed forces. Three people raise their hands. And I said, Could you please explain that better than I can? And they did. It was like they are so indoctrinated by the time they get to active service. They are a unit, their best interest. It's a survival of the unit use of what other ever extent, that meat. So they will always do that. And then there is always a driving force, a desire, a want that a character needs. That is what pushes them through the story. Harry Potter wants a family, you know? I mean, that's really that's really if you look at that arc of that character, he's driving port. He's creating a family. He's wanting a family because some part of him believes it's possible, despite the upbringing. And you might say, Oh, that's impossible. But I meet people every day of horrid childhoods and fantastic marriages. So there was there, some element of belief that this can be better. But I'm the way on being dealt is not the only possibility, and whatever that thing is that drives you through the entire story. There are pieces along the way in every single scene. There is something that your character wants. And there are ways he's he's going to go and get it. Please don't hate me for using he okay? I'm just just like I would use. He she it It's an alien blob. I'm just gonna use heat. So those three things, you don't go against your own self interest, you do change. And you do have something you want more than anything. And if you've got those really, really clear, the rest of it is gravy. And you need to know other things. You need to know what their belief system is. You need to know what they're illegals are. Because if you don't know where your morals are, your characters you don't know how we'll react in a situation like if If I think that honesty is the most important thing, I will not lie, or I will do everything I can in order to not lie. You have to remember that the villain in your story is the hero in his own.
Oh, yeah, that's good.
I hate to use it, but Hitler thought he had an answer. Yeah, he thought he had the answer. to what was ailing his entire country and himself. It wasn't a good one. We didn't like it, but he didn't think he knew what was right. And so you can't develop your lead character without developing your villain as highly and as in death, you have to know what your character's fighting against and what they're moving through. So I mean, the character questions that I have that in my website are ones that kind of help. You never know what's gonna come up like. Sometimes I put I put something in the pocket of a character. One of the questions is what's in my pocket? I put something I've put something in characters, pockets that may never come out again. But I also know that at some point I might need it so it might just get thrown in there in an earlier draft. It might stay there, come out later in the story I realized in going through my current work in progress, that I have a ring that shows up in the last 10 pages. That's never anywhere else. So really, it's that write myself a note right now, said forgot. Aboutthe ring, huh?
Drag and I will send you our collaborators, Bill for
you like Oh yeah, that's it. There's that ring. I think that that you can't tell enough, But if you're really looking for, like, the most basic three things, it's those and then the morals are important because then you and you know or you know what the stakes are, then I mean, if you've got somebody who would never steal and has to that creates a crisis, you know, a crisis. It's moral dilemma. And do I or if you have somebody who does something stupid, I mean, Dad wrote a short story called Unguarded Moment that is about a guy who skips work and goes to the track and talks his way into his boss's box. I believe he talks his way, and I don't think he was invited. And he's sitting there at the track on a man sits down in front of him in the same box, and he has a really fat bill hold in his back pocket and he gets up and he walks away and the billfold lands on the ground and this guy drops a racing form over it and his whole life to hell in a handbasket. And, you know, it was just this moment where he just fits something stupid. G did something without thinking. You know, I was listening to, uh, my favorite murder today. I don't know if you ever listened to a podcast and they were talking about They talk about true crime is a true crime, Mom. Uh, comedy podcasts. Essentially, they find a lot of humor, but this one guy escaped from jail two weeks before he was supposed to be paroled. Done. He had finished his sentence, but somebody was leaving and he went along like so. Then you became a fugitive for 14 days. Why now, when we d'oh? Obviously this guy had impulse control issues. You know, I think that that would be my basic thing is never go against your own self interest. How is this character changing? And what does this character want above all else? And in each scene, what does this character want? And please don't always give it to them.
I think you touched on some really, really important points. And there's one in particular that I would like to expand. And it's this this idea of the thing in the pocket. When when you first said that the first thing that came into my mind was, I know it's in there The reader may never know it's in there, but I d'oh and everything my character does might be affected by the thing in his pocket. So my reader may never, ever, ever even haven't inkling that there's something in this pocket. But me, as the writer can use that invisible thing as a tool to motivate my character to do X y Z whatever.
Absolutely there's there's Ah, as as an actor you have. Every character has a secret, and sometimes it's the driving force. Sometimes the thing that makes him do everything they do. I did a scene in acting class from his girl Friday, which was originally a play called The Front Page. But we used the movie script, and the ex wife comes in to speak to her ex husband and he tries to romance her back, and she's going to go get married because she wants to settle down and have a baby. But the baby part isn't anywhere in the script. It was just in
that's playing her because it wasn't just about leaving him. It was that being with him that would never happen. They were reporters and they were crime reporters and and big event reporters. And they were not. They were. It was not gonna stop. And so if that thing can sometimes add something to your character, it could be something that they touch on. You know, the ring, the ring. I just need to add it about two other places and it will have a residence that needs to be there. Then that can be there and it and it means something to this character. I think any time you get to add to mention when you think about like, what do you put on every day? You know, I always have my wedding ring on my wedding rings always on, and the only time is not on it. If I'm in the ocean or I travel overseas, in which case it's in the bank, you know, and I were a fake, but I always have a ring on my finger, and I'm probably the I'm very aware when it's not there. It's been there for 29 years, so you know I'm not going on 30 here. So I you know, it's like it's a part of me. And that's the kind of thing that they can inform a character. It could be. You know, our younger daughter used to give us our shoes, get me a rock when I would go away, not even out of town. Like, I'm just gonna drive in, get my hair done, take this to remember me by. And but then it was with me all day. Yeah, my stone from the art was with me all day.
Well, that's funny. My daughter gave me a stone once the day I started a new job and I worked there for eight years. And that stone never moved from where he said it today. I started.
Yeah, and nobody else needs to know that, right? But it can be on your character's desk.
Interesting thing with the characters and their motivation and in staying true to themselves, I think we've probably all read books where the character does something completely out of character for no reason, and it destroys the suspension of disbelief. You can't quite buy it like that wouldn't have, and it destroys everything like you can't you cannot go along with a storyteller any longer.
Yeah, and you find that with first novels, I think, and you find that with, um Sometimes you find that with Siri's, that then go to other people writing it of it in the original. Oh, well, they wouldn't have done that right. It's not like there's no point in doing that. We see it in television all the time. We see a character do something and you're like, uh, what? Any time you send your reader out of the story like that, you're losing them. I had this brilliant idea today. It's actually in my instagram post from, I think today, uh, certainly one of the last ones I wrote. I realized that in going through again, I was also being a script supervisor and a script supervisor is a job in Hollywood. They're usually if you're ever on a set, they're usually on a very short stool right next to the director. Um, at least that was my I'm my memory. They write down everything about every shot that they were also write down. They'll keep notes like the director was a lie like that. When I like that one, and they were taking notes like that. But they're also taking notes. Of what side was his hair parted on? You know? Yeah, What color was the shirt? What time did the clock say at the top of the scene? What time did the clock say at the bottom of the scene? All that mitt. Picky detail work, and it's a job that you never notice unless it's wrong, Right? And when it's wrong, you are instantly taken out so you can't have a woman open the door at noon and have her clothes it two minutes later at 6 p.m. Hand open in the bright light of day and close it as the sun is setting. It just does. It isn't it isn't there unless the door's been open, the holding and those things throw them out. I think it certainly throws me out if I'm like going Wait a second wasn't yesterday, just Saturday, and now all of a sudden it's Tuesday. But Saturday I'm confused
right character in one of my Siri's that that Craig's familiar with and his basic function in my last book that I just released was to be comic relief and it works well because the guy from the moment we met him in the book before is just a smart ass, you know, that's what he does. A guy he he owns, ah, chain of battery stores. And he's just, uh, lives in his mom's basement kind of guy, you know? But the husband goes in to get a laptop battery and a book later. Him and this guy are in Mexico trying to find an archaeological dig, Uh, because they think they've found a meso American electric battery okay from, like pre Columbian era. And Neil being the battery king has to see this as I'm writing the scene where they're arriving at the dig and they end up meeting armed guards who are screaming at them in Spanish. And it is at that exact moment that they realized neither of them speak Spanish, even though they fueled whim. But anyway, Neil turns to Dan and says, What are they saying? Do you know what they're saying? And at about that point that guards start to catch on, that these guys aren't any threat to them and they start laughing and the main guy says, What I said was What are you doing here, you son of a whore? And Neil's immediate responses All you were talking to Dan, even though that's obviously, you know, a setup joke. You don't bat an eyelash at Neil saying it because he's been a smart ass from the moment you, madam,
you've laid the groundwork.
Yeah, it's and you know it's important. It's It's like that, too. Then on to mine own self. Be true is true with characters as it is with human beings, and it's not a care tries to stay the same. You just have to know where their point is, where the point is, that's going to flip them one way or the other. What is the thing that's going to make a character into a vigilante who's always been a peacekeeper there? We all have our breaking point, and we all have those moments where all of a sudden nothing works. And that's when we that's when we change this when we grow. That's when we crawled back in the hole and, you know, hide away for the rest of time or whatever change. You know, things have to flow in a way, and I guess none of us would get up in the morning and, you know, automatically decide that we should. You probably have put it this way. No marriage ends because of somebody else. The marriage ends because something was wrong in the marriage and that somebody else is a symptom. And you you, by the time you're looking at somebody else, you've already stopped communicating ways out of this thing. You get really aggravated in improvs. If somebody says you always you know you can't like if you if you've gotten to the point where you're saying to your spouse, you always having the conversation before this, you know, it just should have been something else. So I'm so glad you asked me to talk about character I had a chance to do. You have for a little while here I was didn't doing other things.
And your website, as you mentioned, has this nifty 25 questions that will bring your characters to life tool. All for the low, low cost,
an email address and you get a newsletter. You get like, six e mails and then you get one among the six. All have exercises in them that will help you with scenes and with character on with research. But you know, that came to me from working as an actress.
truly. I mean, I used those questions to develop the characters I played right on. Then I started developing characters I wrote and using the same questions. And then I was like, This is a really good way of putting in in a nutshell. How to develop a character. And I see you know, they're smaller lists in their beer lists, and they're certainly questions I could add to it. But I think that, you know, it's good if you come up with some on your own two. If you sort of go Oh, well, wait a second. This isn't on here. This would be a good question to answer, because it gives you an insight into a person. I mean, I don't know what somebody would write if they were, like writing my character down. I met a really, really lovely author illustrator name Steve Bjorkman, and he, um he and I met at the Society for Writer for Children's book Writers and illustrators, which I refer to is Kabuki, but everybody should have told me about it like 28 years ago, and she referred to a desk a buoy, So I've never stopped. Okay, Anyway, we were having a chat and we were talking. And I just said that I was, you know, who started talking to him about picture books Because I'm got an idea, and I have no idea about right. It's like riding a haiku wrist used to writing, you know, like Tolstoy and I n. And so he was talking to me and asked me and he said, You know, I'm a little start and I said, This is so helpful. How can I ever repay you? Cycle? I'm a little stuck on with the story that I'm working on, and he told me about it. And then I asked him three questions, and he kind of looked at me, knew it. Oh, yeah, you know, sometimes it's just somebody else asking the right question and so that that group of questions could be that somebody else for you right now. You don't want that, says Oh, wait a second. I never considered religion. I never considered whether there is one or there isn't one or what it's made of. And certainly if your world building there is some form of a belief system, somehow, whether it isn't one, there isn't one or whether there is one. And I think the hard way. All world builders,
Yeah, absolutely have
because I don't think it's scifi. I mean, I've built an entire house in my book. I think it's helpful to have questions to answer, because I think it makes you think I have more questions
and feel free to say no. But is there anything you can tell us about what your project that you're working on right now?
I'm working on a middle grade mystery, and I will say that it takes place in the house that I grew up next to in Los Angeles. I had a very I lived in a very, very small, modest house, and next door was the enormous garage to the enormous house that was completely outsized compared to everything else around it. And it was older. It was an older house, and I've made it even older, my story, and so it takes place there and then, other than that, I will just say that I germinated this idea before the Internet, and I have now had to add the Internet me a really long time to figure out how to do that.
I won't push you to reveal too much, because I know that probably, you know, like your dad. And like a lot of other writers talking about your project, too much is scary because it sometimes means that that's the less writing that is done on the on the project. You dry up the well, talking to other people about it, rather
what you what, you want to keep it. You want to keep it mysterious. You wanna have this element of surprise, but I think that I just feel like it's, uh when it's in print and everybody can go buy it and they can find out. But I'm happy to share this germination this of growing up next door Thio what I believed at the time. But I don't know that it was quite that big was a 14 car garage. What I do know is that two of our houses, it seems, could have fit in it, I think 2200 square feet. It wasn't tiny tiny, but it wasn't big, and it seemed like two of us. Two of our houses could fit in that garage. Yeah, and there was one person living there.
Do you have any knowledge about who built it there and why?
I know exactly. I mean, I know I know of the family. The family that owned the house and may still own it is ah, Montgomery family. And they owned all of this area, this shopping area on the Sunset Strip called Sunset Plaza. So in the sixties, when everything was in the seventies, when everything was hot and happening on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood was like, you know, filthy McNasty is in the rainbow room and all of that. This was a sort of its tonier now, but it was, um, a shopping area. But there was like, a drug store, and there was a veterinarian, and there was a private, probably a post office. But this family owned the whole what is known as the Sunset Strip. They owned what? Hey, on the sun's applause area of that and still do. And that was their house, you know? So that's what that's what I'm working on right now. And and I'm I'm finishing it up, and it's gonna go to someone who's gonna read it. Probably the beginning of next week. So exciting. Yeah, that's it. That's except that's exciting to me. It was time to send it off to a playdate today and see what comes of it. Not stress over it. Except, you know, trying very hard not to wonder what somebody's thinking of it.
Right. Good luck. I've never managed to do that. Like not think about it.
Yeah, You know, I'm not really good at that either. I'm kind of like, you know, my husband likes to say to me where your feet I know and I'm like, right here, like you're at the bottom of my legs and I get it. But, you know, sometimes it's a little hard to remember where your feet are. You're excited about something. So
milieu, which we're waiting on something from like that from somebody every day is like a year like Oh, the longer it takes, the more you're sure they hate it. They just don't want to tell me Now they're trying to figure out how to break the bad news.
See? But you see, the lesson in that is the lesson I got from my dad in that when he was really hungry and writing and hoping to sell. And he was getting rejected and rejected and rejected and rejected over 200 rejections before easily his first short story. He always had a story out. No. So he was writing one, and he had, like, three that were out in various places so that when he got a rejection, there was still hope and and so my goal is that I will send this off and I will go back to work on the picture book. I still know nothing, but I have this idea very visual. So I you know, I'm I'm learning.
You do realize we're going to keep asking you want every night until you say no. So just just like that,
I don't know that I'm gonna say no, you know, because I enjoy enjoy speaking with you guys. And I like talking about about the art of writing and and character and all this thing. And I hope that the next time I'm on I have really, you know, like, exciting news about something being published.
Uh, definitely. Keep us keep us in the loop there because we would definitely want to know. But we could make a show dedicated to that. We're excited to see what you come up with.
That would be really, really fun. So thank you so much. You guys, I really
thanks the money. We'll talk again.
once again after hearing all that incredible stuff that Anjali just shared with us. Speaking for myself, if I could interview Angelique Wilmore every day for the rest of my life, I probably would.
And you probably never run out of stuff to say exactly Wealth of information.
And what we want to do now is, is something that we're going to do is a regular part of our shows. Hopefully, um and that's take a little time to go over some of the stuff that we learned from Anjali. Combine it with some of the stuff that that Craig and I have learned in our own work and present it to anybody out there who is Ah, an aspiring writer. Or maybe a little further along in your career. What I want to say is, theirs always gonna be something at any point in your career that you might not have thought of that someone else might be able to point out to you. And so, you know, like I said in our introductory show, Craig and I aren't coming to you from a point of view of Hey, listen to us. We know it all, But we have had a little experience with writing. I guess it's fair to say so. We'd like to share some of these insights with you, and we're going to be working off an actual document that you can get yourself for the low, low price of giving Anjali more your email address and getting her incredible email newsletters on a regular basis. But when you first sign up, she will happily give you a document that she calls the 25 questions that will bring your character to life. She mentioned it during the interview, and Craig and I wanna look at three of the questions on here and just rift with you guys about that a little bit that
we want your real quick and say that I know what people probably thinking. Oh, another email list. I don't need to sign up for another emails, and this is one of those that you actually get value with email that you get.
I I I'm glad you said that, because I will admit that I am notorious for. I don't do it as much anymore because they were my last one. But I used to sign up for a lot of author email newsletters and found that the vast majority of them ended up just being something that I deleted on hope more often than But with Anja leaks newsletters. Every time I get when I know there's going to be something in there that's gonna help as a writer and and I would encourage anyone to not be afraid to sign up for this email list because you are going to be rewarded for him. So let's jump in. We're gonna look at it like I said three things from her 25 and just put them out. There is things that we identified that are absolutely crucial for a writer to, ah to at least get their head wrapped around when they're creating their characters, and the 1st 1 is going to seem a little obvious. But physical appearance, what do they look like? You're gonna want to write down for yourself a detailed physical description of at least your main characters. I would go far as to say maybe every character that appears in the book. I don't know how you feel about their crime
only. But this way you can't have too much information. So if you if you want to do it, then absolutely, but definitely for any character that's sticks around for more than a page, you're gonna want to know. And I say this as somebody who has a tendency to gloss over some of this stuff is so excited to get into the action and to start telling the story that I do, I sometimes I'll have a picture of them in my head. And because I know what they look like, I forget that the reader may not right, So that's one key when you're writing is to keep the reader in mind is they are not privy to all the information that you may have,
and to some extent they may never be right, because a lot of these things might be something that, at least where you are in the story now, might not even come out. Some of the specific characteristics that Angelique mentions in her document are their weight hair type height, hair texture, hair color, eye color, SP, kin toned skin quality, facial hair, scars, clothes. All this stuff can be in your mind or or better still on paper in front of you for you to refer to. And you might never make mention of the appendix scar that the character has, but it might come into play somehow somewhere, somewhere down the line. And if you remember Oh yeah, they've got a scar there.
We just never know how how it's going to impact the story. And here's the other interesting little thing about writing. There's something magical that happens when you are fully aware and intimately familiar and acquainted with the character writing about that somehow, even if you're not mentioning specific things, it comes through in the writing, and the reader can pick up on this on that, and they will relate to it, and they will become more involved because you are
exactly, I guess, the way I would put it as think about if someone asked you to write about a real person that you know almost nothing about us. Say there's a group of five people and someone turns you and says, Write down a description of Larry. And this the first time you've ever met Larry, you're not going to be able to write as detailed and is convincing a Larry as if you, you know, it was someone you've known all your life. Now, obviously a character that you're creating out of your mind. You haven't known all your life, but because you're this character's creator, you certainly are going to know that character better than anybody else in the world. You
don't know them as well as if you've known them. You're their entire life. Then get to know them.
Yeah, because it's going to make it tougher for you the same way it would be if you were writing about a real person sitting across from you, you know,
and all of these things that may seem kind of trite or like obvious, as you were saying. But the thing is where no hair typed extra color scars, for example, these lead to other things about them. So if you know if they have certain scars that opens up in entire world, about where do they get these scars What is their background that led? Got them into those situations where they accumulated these one of their battle scars or, ah, surgery, scars, whatever they are, that tells you a whole lot more about the person rather than they just have a mark on the body. It sure
does. It sure does. And you know, a scar is something that someone else might see and be able to identify this person where there's just a zillion things you could use these details for. So, yeah, to wrap that one up as much physical information as you. Congrats about the character that you're creating, the better off you're gonna be as you move forward. Next question we would tackle would be What does the character want? What's their overall desire? What drives them? You mean how crucial is that,
right? That is the germ of pretty much every story. What is driving around what is motivating the motivation for the protagonist and even the antagonised? Now I do want to talk about that a little bit. Does Angelique made an amazing statement. I want to bring in. But what is the motivating factor for these main characters? That is the story
and everything is going to hinge off of that. And it may not be something that the character even knows when the story starts. Yeah, I would have to say I'm just running through my own works in my head, just about every one of my stories. To some extent, when they start out, the main character has no idea the desire that they're gonna end up with. And And I'm thinking specifically of the sea air of quiet our stuff. Who because the first book starts out with a girl working on a mountainside far away from everything she loves and hating everything about her life, she ends up being the savior of the planet. So this is obviously someone who didn't know what she wanted. That moment was not going to be what she wanted forever. What she wanted that moment was to be dancing with cute boys instead of standing on a mountainside with foul smelling animal, you know? But I would say with some confidence that by the time the 1st 3 books, and that's no longer her primary concern,
right And having read the books, I know you do a masterful job of using a character arc to change the motivation, right? So that's key and that whatever. If even if you do know what you're starting out with, doesn't necessarily mean that has to be what you end with as long as you have a clear transition within the course of the book of the series to make that happen. I mean, you can't just automatically change it, you know, Right? Right. But But you you did a masterful job of showing how that happened, and it was came across as very natural and obvious. Of course, that is what would happen. And so it's easy for the reader to accept.
Well, thank you for that. The recognition that I pulled that off e.
I didn't even get paid to say it either. But if
you buy, lots of books will both get paid. So at every step of the way, you want to have your finger on the pulse of what their character ones and realize as you go that it's probably not going to be the same at the beginning of your story as it is at the end, At least if if you're doing it right, I suppose the last thing on the list is what is the character secret? The one thing they don't want anybody to know right off the top. This sounds to me like something that could potentially never be revealed to the reader,
you know, could be
what, absolutely is going to move this story in a certain direction. Obviously, it could be something that the reader learns on page one, too, which makes you know these tools. So terrific is you can do with them what you want to do with them. You can. It tapped him to to your style, to your story, to your characters, you know, And And one of the cool things about having a character with a secret is if you do choose to reveal it, it can just be the most powerful moment in a story. Craig and I have a character in the in the stuff that we wrote together, who is basically what's the phrase an enigma wrapped in a question. All we know about this guy, basically, is that he is killer, and we don't know if he worked for someone. If he works for himself, if he does it, just cause he likes doing it. But I will tell you this he has crept into our everyday vernacular is someone we like to call on a regular basis to take care of business for us. And I'm referring to the velvet glove.
Yes, those of you have read the Spike. Oh, novella Siri's will be familiar with with him.
Yeah, we we basically love him because he's our our opportunity to write a character that is completely deranged but kind of
likable, thes, impeccable manners. He dressed smartly, goes in, goes a man about town. He just happens to cut people's heads off. You know, it's just it's a little detail there,
you know. Everybody's got to do something for a living, right?
Right, Exactly. Blow off a little steam, whatever.
Take off a little hat blow off mean, But we have had a lot of fun with him, and kind of what we've done is is let little secrets show as we go with him. I don't think we've yet to reveal the full depth of his depravity, but we've showed some pretty depraved stuff. Yeah, and it's It's, you know, I guess what we're talking about characters. That's one of the things I enjoy the most about writing is I can create someone who is as perfectly moral as you can conceive, or we can create someone who has got no moral anchor whatsoever for me. You know, I consider myself a relatively moral guy. I mean, I'm not perfect by any sense of the word, but there's things I won't do. And as a writer, you can create characters who will do those things. And I think this number 25 what's their secret? Ah, plays big in that
may be good point to mention what I wanted to you about Anjali talking about, um, antagonists or the anti hero or the villain in the story. And she said something that I've heard before, But she really this is an instant when I hadn't thought of it in a while and she brought it back and I was just like, you know, that is so true. And that is the villain in your story is the hero in his own right. So that villain thinks he's doing the right thing, generally speaking, his code or whatever he lives by. If there is something, it may not make sense to us. But he has a structure of his own, and that's what makes makes him human. And I'm guilty of this. A cz well, in a lot of people, I think writers, it's a It's a pitfall we're going to pretty easily where we don't give the same attention to the villain that we do to the hero on. And that's a mistake the Maur dimensions your villain has, the more important the hero's struggle against that villain will be and that being the point of your story. And that's why it's important to get that to get that right.
And again, you know, the more detail you have. Even if it doesn't go on the page, your readers are gonna know it's they're they're gonna feel it's there and and I agree to specifically about the antagonise Craig in In the cleanup crew stuff my antagonised have become, as time goes by a lot more multi dimensional than they were in Bucharest and Bucharest. They basically my main bad guy was a cardboard cut out. I'll say it myself. He was a horrible man, doing horrible things, and he was basically there so that we would hate him now in the next two books. The main antagonise have been every bit is hate herbal, but I've put a lot more work into how they got where they are. For me, it was easier for my main character to deal with these people because I knew what made them tick.
He only makes a huge mix, huge difference, and nothing about the secret is it doesn't necessarily have to be an obvious thing. For example, there are, Ah, war books, for example, where the main character seekers that he's a coward, right? And I don't want to go to battle doesn't anybody to see his his cowardice. But it could be a lot more subtle than that. Or even perhaps I should say a lot more obvious thing that it would be a better way to say it. And that, for example, in my serenity serious she'll be out Alexander. His desire is to just to retire. Be quite, he's led a fast life. He's ready to stop, settle down, be done with it all in trouble, continues to find him. But his secret in my mind is that he is getting old and he doesn't want anybody know what I mean. it's obviously is because our appearances, you can tell he's slowing down. But his mind? As long as he's not put in situations where it will become obvious, he can keep the fact that he's getting old a secret from the the world at large
and maybe even on any given day convinced himself that it's not true. This certainly an experience that I can relate to my next birthday. I'm going to be 60 years old, but in my head, I'm still a stupid 18 year old with a stupid 18 year old mental capabilities. Why I still laugh every time someone says, Let me tell you about what you do, dio. As soon as it happens, I'm gone. You know? Well, that very thing happened at our Halloween. I mean our Christmas Eve family gathering the other night, and I don't think I've ever seen more people stare at me disapprovingly. But someone said what you do dio and that was that I lost it and and and I think that's part of what is making it's still fun for me is I'm approaching all these adult things with my adolescent mind, trying to work it out. But Yeah, that's a perfect Shelby is a perfect example of someone I mean, whose secret is obvious to him. And at the same time, it's the one of the most important things for him is to keep the secret. Even though are the reader knows that pretty much, you know, as he eases into the character shall be in the first book. You're like, OK, I get where this guy is. He's hoping to be in a comfortable place in his life where he doesn't have to deal with all this crap anymore. And here it has fallen right in his lap. And as the books have gone by, you've done are okay. Now is it my turn to praise you on a masterful job of gradually making it more and more an issue with each book? And I guess at some point he's just gonna decompose in front of us. There's something
takes the name of the bad guy's arm just falls off. All right, guys, it's time to hang it up on your body. Parts start following it's time for the role recliner,
one of those motorized ones that goes back slowly to because I don't need a jarring. Resigned
going through my head off the last of the velvet glove had popped in for a visit.
Well, so hopefully that'll give you. Ah, the aspiring writer, the journeymen writer, the experience writer. Just a little food for thought Give you some idea of the sort of stuff that we're going to be doing on the good sentence of podcast. And, uh, thanks for checking us out.