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Tip Tuesday #169 AND GIVEAWAY OF THE CIRCLE

Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Hi Everyone! Natalie here today. Today I have a fantastic tip by middle grade author Cindy Cipriano on character development. Her new middle grade fantasy, THE CIRCLE, was released June 1st. Details of the giveaway will be at the end of the post.

So here’s Cindy.

Love Your Characters

Ah, your characters. You know, those folks you create to tell your story? No matter their disposition, good, bad, or just plain mean, you’ve gotta love ‘em. If not, who will?

I spend a great deal of time when it comes to character development. I want my characters to move beyond the written page and into the lives of my readers. I want my readers to love my characters, to worry about them, and cheer them on.

Character development is more than giving your characters interesting lives, friendships, and hair/eye color. When introducing your character, be slow to reveal details. This gives your readers time to get to know them. It’s really pretty simple, I mean in real life you wouldn’t say, “Hi this is my friend Dessie. She’s 35 and a mess. She’s lost every job she’s ever held, and no man is good enough for her. Even her cats run away.” This detailed, but rushed introduction may leave your reader feeling frustrated with Dessie, when what you were hoping for was a little compassion.

Revealing Dessie’s “issues” in a gradual manner allows your reader to connect to her, sympathize with her, dislike the boyfriends she’s rejected, and maybe understand she’s more of a dog person. Your readers will grow to like Dessie and hope she will thrive in all of those challenging situations you’ve got in store for her.

Maintain reader interest in your characters by making them dynamic. Let your readers see them at their most vulnerable, when they experience self-doubt, as well as when they succeed. This allows your readers to invest in your character’s future. I love hearing from readers who are very much worried about characters in my stories. “What will happen to them?” “Are they all right?” This engagement with my readers tells me I’ve done my part with character development.

I’ve even included “deleted scenes” on my website so readers can learn even more about my characters. Please visit www.TheSidheSeries.com to see what I mean. And, if you’ve read The Circle, I hope you will let me know how I’ve done using one of the forms on the same site.

Happy Writing!
Cindy Cipriano

Bio:
Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son, and 27 pets. Okay, maybe not 27. More like three dogs, one cat, and many, many, fish. Cindy enjoys spending time with her family, writing, and the avoidance of cooking.

Cindy is a 2012 recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund PRISM award, and was named Outstanding Science Teacher in 2009 by the NC Science Teachers Association.

The Circle is Cindy’s first novel, and the first book in the Sidhe Series. Two of her short stories, "What Lance Saw," and "Miller's Island," were published in the children's anthology, Doorway to Adventure (September, 2010).

Here’s a description of THE CIRCLE from Goodreads:

Calum Ranson is sure of three things: his cousin Finley is alive, Calum will find him, and no one knows Calum and his family are Sidhe. No one until Laurel shows up at his mother’s bookstore wearing a dark clan’s mark.

When Calum learns the details surrounding the disappearance of Laurel’s brother, he suspects the evil Hobayeth clan. Calum and Laurel work together in the Realm of Man and the Otherworld to rescue her brother – revealing a connection between Calum and Laurel that may cost Finley his life.

Cindy has generously offered a copy of THE CIRCLE for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on July 27th. I’ll announce the winner on July 29th.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. This is for US/Canada residents only.

Hope to see you next Monday when I interview author Dianne Salerni’s daughter for my ASK THE EXPERT series and give away an ARC of THE 5TH WAVE, an awesome sci-fi/dystopian novel.


52 comments:

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm definitely a character driven reader. So strong, relate-able characters are a must.

Anonymous said...

First up, Cindy, your book sounds great! I am looking forward to reading it. Great character tip. I am thinking of starting a notebook for each of my characters. Just a place to right out whatever I think about then, small details that may or may not end up in the book but that I think will flesh them out even more. What I am having a hard time with is putting them through heck so the story moves along and they grow! Thanks for a chance to win your book!

Anonymous said...

Good points. I enjoy gradual revelations about characters.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Natalie, Hi, Cindy,

I couldn't agree more. AN author MUST love their characters. If you don't, how will your readers. The excitement must be there for it to be real and effective.

Congrats on your new novel Cindy! All the best!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

In real life we get to know people a little bit at a time, so only makes sense to do the same with our characters.

Theresa Milstein said...

Cindy, interesting to include deleted scenes on your website. I like your idea about gradual revelations too.

Melody said...

Excellent advice! I love it when books introduce you to a character naturally, the way real people meet real people. When authors allow you to get to know a character instead of telling you everything about them, you're able to feel like the character is real. And then...then you care. :)

Jocelyn Rish said...

Sometimes I think I love my characters too much because I hate doing bad things to them. :-) I especially enjoyed Cindy's example of how you wouldn't introduce someone in real life because it's true that an info dump is not a fun way to learn about people - real or fictional.

Crystal Collier said...

Wow. That's some awesome advice--especially taking your time in letting readers come to know your characters. I don't know how many manuscripts I've critiqued where I begged the writer to hold in various details until later in the story.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I agree that we must get to know the characters a little at a time, too much info right at the start can overwhelm the reader.

Jemi Fraser said...

Knowing your characters is vital! I like to let them roam around in my head for a while before I write anything down - really helps!

The book sounds awesome!

Gwen Gardner said...

I love the idea of posting cut scenes! Love all your ideas on character development, too. Congrats on The Circle - it sounds great!

Kim Van Sickler said...

Cindy, how satisfying it must be for you to hear from fans about what happens to your characters after the story ends. And including the deleted scenes on your website is a great extra for those readers who want more now!

One of my writing goals is to feature an initially unlikable MC in an upcoming book. I tried once before, but gave up because I wasn't at the point in my writing where I could keep the reader following along with me with such a character. But I will do it one day, and the slow reveal will be key to making it work this time around.

nutschell said...

ooh beautiful cover! I love this interview. I totally agree about revealing the character's issues gradually. I try to avoid info-dumping in each scene, and leave a little character mystery for the readers to unravel in every scene.
Nutschell
www.thewritingnut.com

Heather said...

Great tip! Sometimes I get too worked up over characters and forget to just enjoy hanging out with them! I'm excited to read your book. Sounds great!

Cherie Reich said...

What a wonderful tip about character development! Congrats on the book release, Cindy!

Eisen said...

Thanks for the tip on character development! Your book sounds really good as well and I can't wait to read it! I've tweeted about this giveaway as well: https://twitter.com/eisen5585/status/357659534262665217
Merci!

Charlie N. Holmberg said...

Great post on character, thanks so much!

Weaver said...

Cool cover! Yeah, love this post. Characters keep me reading. And I know I've done something right when I desperately wish I could meet mine.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Wonderful post on character! Too much information all at once is always a bad thing, but little personality traits revealed over time is great!

David P. King said...

Great tips, Cindy! I helps to love your characters, even the bad guys. Sometimes they come to me in my dreams and tell me to hurry up and finish their story! :)

cleemckenzie said...

A very clear way to explain how to reveal character. Loved the post and am very interested in your book.

Carina Olsen said...

Thank you both for sharing the tip :D Loved it. <3 Seems like an amazing book too. Thank you for letting me know about it :)
Thank you for commenting on my WoW last week. <3
Love, Carina @ Carina's Books

Unknown said...

Great tip. Since I've read The Circle and reviewed on my website I can say she did a great job developing her characters. It's a great adventure and I'm looking forward to read her second book!

Danielle H. said...

I loved your comment about getting reader feedback about your characters--you have obviously made your readers care deeply. I hope to win a copy of The Circle. Thank you!

Rosi said...

Great tip. I love the cover of the book. My TBR list is overwhelming right now, so please don't enter me in the drawing, but I wanted to thank you for the post.

Manju Howard said...

Thank you for sharing your experience with character development. I would like to read The Circle and will Tweet this post.

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Deb,

Love the notebook for each character idea. Hope it's working!

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Deb,

Love the notebook for each character idea! Hope it's working well!

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks so much!

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Theresa,

Thanks so much!

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Melody,

Thank you for your comment!

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks so much, Jocelyn!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks, Crystal!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks, Rachna!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thank you, Jemi!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks, Gwen! It's been a lot of fun :)

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Kim,

Best of luck to you with your slow reveal!

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thank you! I think my cover artist did an amazing job!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Heather,

Thanks! I hope you'll let me know what you think about The Circle.

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks, Cherie!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks so much and thanks for the tweet!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks Charlie!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thank you, Donna!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks, Tyrean!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Ha! I sometimes feel my characters are sitting on my shoulder waiting for my attention!

Thanks, David!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thank you so very much! I hope you will let me know what you think of The Circle!

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Carina,

Thanks so much!

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Pam!

Thanks a million (again)!

Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks, Danielle!

Cindy Cipriano said...

Hi Rosi,

Thank you! I think the cover artist did an amazing job for The Circle.

Best wishes,
Cindy

Cindy Cipriano said...

Thanks, Manju! I hope you will let me know what you think about The Circle.

Cindy