Guest Post: Creating Powerful Characters

Get ready to explore a gem of mythic fiction in Michael Williams’ Dominic’s Ghosts Blog Tour. Taking place February 13-20, 2019, this blog tour celebrates a new stand-alone novel in Michael’s ambitious City Quartet.

Atmospheric and thought-provoking, Dominic’s Ghosts will take you on a unique kind of journey that involves a conspiracy, legends, and insights from a film festival!

About the Author:
Over the past 25 years, Michael Williams has written a number of strange novels, from the early Weasel’s Luck and Galen Beknighted in the best-selling DRAGONLANCE series to the more recent lyrical and experimental Arcady, singled out for praise by Locus and Asimov’s magazines. In Trajan’s Arch, his eleventh novel, stories fold into stories and a boy grows up with ghostly mentors, and the recently published Vine mingles Greek tragedy and urban legend, as a local dramatic production in a small city goes humorously, then horrifically, awry.

Trajan’s Arch and Vine are two of the books in Williams’s highly anticipated City Quartet, to be joined in 2018 by Dominic’s Ghosts and Tattered Men.

Williams was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent much of his childhood in the south central part of the state, the red-dirt gothic home of Appalachian foothills and stories of Confederate guerrillas. Through good luck and a roundabout journey he made his way through through New England, New York, Wisconsin, Britain and Ireland, and has ended up less than thirty miles from where he began. He has a Ph.D. in Humanities, and teaches at the University of Louisville, where he focuses on the he Modern Fantastic in fiction and film. He is married, and has two grown sons.

Synopsis of Dominic’s Ghosts:
Dominic’s Ghosts is a mythic novel set in the contemporary Midwest. Returning to the home town of his missing father on a search for his own origins, Dominic Rackett is swept up in a murky conspiracy involving a suspicious scholar, a Himalayan legend, and subliminal clues from a silent film festival. As those around him fall prey to rising fear and shrill fanaticism, he follows the branching trails of cinema monsters and figures from a very real past, as phantoms invade the streets of his once-familiar city and one of them, glimpsed in distorted shadows of alleys and urban parks, begins to look uncannily familiar.


Author Links:

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Mythical-Realism-The-Michael-Williams-Page-128713900543978/

Guest Post: Creating Powerful Characters

I was asked to write about creating “powerful characters,” which is an interesting distinction from the usual request about “good characters” or “believable characters.”

I could comply with the usual request. Consistency and plausibility are the foundation of any well-drawn character, and a number of writers can do those things and do them ably. But I have a feeling that what’s asked for here is something more—that intriguing moment in fiction where you encounter someone you’ll never forget: Sherlock Holmes, perhaps, or Madame Bovary. Captain Ahab, Hamlet or Gollum.

The figures who haunt you after you close the covers of the book.

Because almost anywhere you look, you can find the standard advice on character plausibility and consistency: writers I know keep notebooks, fill out character sheets, base the people in their stories on the people they know, or “cast” their stories with the screen personalities of appropriate actors or with the best guess at the temperaments of historical figures.

I mean, everyone has heard these methods already. Pick out a tactic that works for you.

Sometimes, though, you hear this complaint: “I just couldn’t relate to the character.” Pay close attention to those moments. Are readers actually saying the character is unrelatable? If so, the solution probably lies in some of the tactics I’ve mentioned above.

However, a lot of the time, what a reader might be saying is, “I couldn’t identify with the character.” And that, to me, is a very different thing. You can believe in a character without that kind of identity that a lot of readers demand: after all, who’d want to be Iago or Saruman, and yet we are fascinated by them, like by something glittering and poisonous. Very often the most powerful characters are figures strange to us, people who stretch our imaginations rather than confirm our assumptions. We do our work as readers in coming to know them, and the fascination of discovery takes the place of the ease in feeling that we already know them.

In short, when I read about a fictional character, I’d rather be asking “What’s up with her?” than resting in the assurance that “she’s just like I would be in that situation.”

My own Vine: An Urban Legend—one of the books in my City Quartet—met the objection of one reviewer that one of the central characters was “unsympathetic”. Well, a drug-addled homeless Elvis impersonator, haunted by paranoia and delusions of grandeur, might not be someone you’d want to buddy up with, much less grow up to be. But I maintain he’s interesting as hell, and his recurrence in the other three volumes—a secondary character in Dominic’s Ghosts, a cameo appearance in the pending new edition of Trajan’s Arch, and one of the two principal figures in the soon-to-be- released Tattered Men—make you more and more acquainted with Tommy Briscoe, so that when you glimpse him from the corner of your eye or when he settles in your sight, I’m hoping you’re curious, eager for more.

All of this without necessarily “identifying with him,” though depending on what book of the Quartet you read first (and you can start with any of them) you may be more sympathetic than if you began somewhere else. Just like living around someone like Tommy: where you start may shape where you end up. But you’ll stretch your thoughts along the way. Explore the character’s contradictions and layers. And that’s the power of characters, and of fiction.

Tour Schedule and Activities

2/13     Ravenous For Reads
www.ravenousforreads.com

2/13     Breakeven Books
https://breakevenbooks.com

2/14     Marian Allen, Author Lady
www.MarianAllen.com

2/15     Inspired Chaos
http://inspiredchaos.weebly.com/blog

2/16     I Smell Sheep
http://www.ismellsheep.com/

2/16     The Book Lover’s Boudoir
https://thebookloversboudoir.wordpress.com/

2/17     Jorie Loves A Story
http://jorielovesastory.com

2/18     The Seventh Star
www.theseventhstarblog.com

2/18     Willow’s Thoughts and Book Obsessions       http://wssthoughtsandbookobsessions.blogspot.com/

2/18     The Horror Tree
www.Horrortree.com

2/19     Sheila’s Guests and Reviews
www.sheiladeeth.blogspot.com

2/20     Jazzy Book Reviews
https://bookreviewsbyjasmine.blogspot.com/

Amazon Links for Dominic’s Ghosts

Print Version: https://www.amazon.com/Dominics-Ghosts-Michael-Williams/dp/1948042584/

Kindle Version: https://www.amazon.com/Dominics-Ghosts-Quartet-Michael-Williams-ebook/dp/B07F5Z4L18/

Barnes and Noble Link for Dominic’s Ghosts: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dominics-ghosts-michael-williams/1129262622?ean=9781948042581

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