18 June 2012

Blog Tour: On Writing Monument 14's Characters

Thanks for stopping by today! I'm excited to be hosting Emmy Laybourne today as part of the Monument 14 blog tour!  She's stopped by today to talk about one of my favorite things about a good book--characters!  Emmy's debut has a pretty good size cast, so I asked her to talk a little about how she went about developing them all.  Read on to find out more about her characters and Monument 14. :)

On Crafting Good Side Characters
My debut novel Monument 14 has a bunch of characters in it - fourteen kids and a couple of adults thrown in, too! I really needed to be sure that the characters stood out from each other, so the reader would know who was who. But in terms of my writing process, I didn't want to draw up some kind of chart and try to set them all apart from each other in some phony kind of way. Instead I worked in a number of ways to really bring the characters to life.

One technique I used was to look to specific people from my life when envisioning characters. Niko, for example, is absolutely based on the son of a friend of mine. He's this very serious boy with big brown eyes and straight brown hair. He's thin and quiet and moves like he's a part of the f. There is nothing about the kid that is wild or impulsive - even his hair is completely straight.

Chloe, one of the most loud and funny characters in the book, is also based on a kid I know. It helped me, when I was writing her, because I could just focus on this other little kid (actually a boy) and try to imagine what he would say.

There are some characters you need to create, like the ones I just mentioned - others seem to be waiting, right in your imagination. Max was one of those characters. He was just hanging around in my mind, waiting to "get borned," as he might say. To tell you the truth, Max is a character that could kind of take over. In fact, I think I could write a side-novel to Monument 14, written entirely in his voice. It would be one hell of a story. Max has had a more interesting life than most of us, I think!

Another tool I used when creating the characters in Monument 14 were my acting skills. Working on films like Superstar and Nancy Drew, I really had to go deep into character work. I would work on characters for a long time - I would focus on how they walk and talk. I'd do housework in character and go shopping for clothes in character (and boy, did I ever come home with some horrible outfits!)  I did the same type of work with my literary characters. Sometimes when I was writing I would speak the dialogue out loud. I'd imagine myself to be Sahalia and bam - something snarky and sarcastic would pop out of my mouth. Or I'd take on Jake's slow drawl to see what he had to say about a development in a scene.

I'll tell you, writing Monument 14 was hard for me, at times, because I came to really love my characters. They came to be real, living and breathing people in my imagination. I hated putting them in so much danger. And man, then I had to write the sequel! Talk about turmoil and despair!

Please read Monument 14 and let me know what you think of the characters! You can leave a message for me here or write to me at emmylaybourne.com. Thanks and safe reading!

Find out more about Monument 14, Emmy, and the Fierce Read tour!
Author website: http://emmylaybourne.com/

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.

Emmy began her writing career as a playwright. The first play she wrote and performed was called, The Miss Alphabet City Beauty Pageant and Spelling Bee. The New York Post said it, “restores faith in our country’s comedic future.” The Daily News called it, “hilariously clever.” Her next play, Smorgas-Bourne, landed Emmy a starring role in the Paramount feature film, Superstar, opposite Will Ferrel and Molly Shannon.

As an actress, Emmy went on to have featured roles in the films “Nancy Drew,” “The In-Laws,” and “Lucky Numbers.” She was a season regular on the NBC sitcom “DAG,” and performed original comedy on Comedy Central, MTV, and VH1. She has improvised with the Upright Citizens Brigade, Chicago City Limits and the Heartless Floozies.

Emmy has performed original comedy material throughout LA and New York, including the song she sang with her brother, Sam, “We Can’t Make Love Because We’re Related.” In addition to writing YA novels, Emmy is currently a Lyricist in the prestigious BMI Musical Theater Writer’s Advanced Workshop, writing a musical called "The Midnight Princess" with composer Paul Libman.

Macmillan has been kind enough to provide a copy of Monument 14 for giveaway to one lucky reader!  Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for your chance.  US/Canada addresses only, please.


Tayte Hunter said...

Characters are pretty important in a book. Even if there's no straight lined plot, the characters help move the story along. If the characters are boring or flat, even if the plot is amazing, then the story will be boring. The characters have to be well developed and rounded to fit the plot and the story itself. :D

theliteraturelion said...

For me, characters are the one thing in the book that I look at. If it's got a good cover, I'll pick it up. But if the characters aren't intriguing to me, then I'll most likely set it down. Emmy seems awesome, and I didn't know she was in all those TV shows! 

Janiera said...

This sounds so great. Thank you for giveaway and awesome guest post. I really want to read this. I thought I recognized her face from the movie Superstar. That movie is so funny. Characters are so important and as an author I get so attached to mines as well.
 Janiera @ Books & Beauty


I am a very character driven reader. Characters are the most important part of a story to me. I need to really feel like I know them and want to get to know more about who they "really" are. I liked Dean. I felt like we got to know him well in the book. He was very socially awkward to begin with, but I like how he started to change. Thanks for the great post. 

Jennifer Vu said...

Characters are an important aspect of books.  They are... us in the stories and help us experience the story. If a character is not likable, then I will most likely put down the book. And I feel like an important part of a story is if the character undergoes a change.

jessasank said...

I like the way you craft your character's Emmy! When I write, I try to do the same. The characters are important to the story. I like characters that seem like they could be real people, having the little nuances that make them unique and either likable or unlikable. If they're likable, it's nice to see they aren't perfect, and for some unlikable characters, it's nice to see a redeeming quality pop up in them that you never expected. It's like in real life! :) Thanks for the giveaway!

Danny Bookworm said...

I so totally and truly need to read this one! Pushy was on the Fierce Reads Signing last week and she kept telling me about how awesome Emmy Laybourne was :)) I especially loved this post because characters are everything to me!!! If I do not love them, I do not love the book! 

Addie R. said...

I love how Emmy crafts characters! I'd do the same if I was a writer. Great post & thanks for the giveaway!

Life As Wife said...

I have to connect with a character or I won't be able to invest in the story.

Christina K. said...

Characters are the most important part of a story -  no matter who action-packed a plot, it doesn't matter unless I care about the characters:)

I love Emmy's post - it's obvious her characters rock!

Thanks so much:)

Elisquared said...

Characters are the most important thing for me when I'm reading a book.  If I'm not invested in the characters I could care less!

I'm really excited to read Monument 14; I've heard such great things about it!

Thanks for the awesome post!

Rachael L said...

If I don't connect with the characters in a book then I will not fully enjoy the story. Characters are important to my reading enjoyment. Thank you for the giveaway!

Fabiola R said...

I compare the characters to me and see the way I will react if I was them :)

Angie said...

Having characters that are likable and relatable are imperative for anyone to enjoy a novel. If one hates the protagonist, then it's hopeless to continue reading. For example, most people seem to dislike Twilight because Bella and Edward are morons, which is totally true.

Na said...

Characters are very important to me. I want to care for them and understand where they are coming from. Often books are favorites because of the characters.

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