I am so happy to welcome Karoline Barrett to Escape With Dollycas as part of her Great Escapes Tour today.
Making Characters Interesting
by Karoline Barrett
Hi everyone! Excited to be here today to talk about writing. Recently, on a Facebook author event I participated in, I was asked how I keep the characters in my Bread & Batter cozy mystery series interesting and unique. That’s a good question, because writers want their characters to be interesting. If they aren’t, then chances are readers aren’t going to stick with your books, no matter how riveting the mystery part is. For me, the charactes are at least as important as the mystery. That’s especially true in a series where you have many of the same people coming back.
I’ll share with you a few ways that I try and make my characters people you’d want as your best friends, not to mention people you’d want beside you if a dead body popped up!
1. I don’t read other cozy mystery writers’ books (despite how much I love them) while I’m writing. I don’t want my writing voice, or my characters voices, suddenly sounding like someone else’s! I also don’t want my plot sounding like someoneone else’s. I know there are only so many ideas out there, but why tempt fate. One of my favorite quotes, and I wish I remembered where I heard this, is, “The only person who had an original idea was Adam.” So, while I do love reading, I wait until I’m between books to do so, that way I can give my brain a chance to clear before I resume writing.
2. I get to know my characters before I begin writing. By the time I start writing Chapter One, I’m familiar with them. I don’t need to wonder what their favorite color might be, or what their hobbies are, of whether or not they’re shy, or afraid of spiders, or commitment, etcetera. This includes secondary characters, too. If it’s a character who is only appearing in one book, I may not do an in-depth character analysis, but I do have some idea who they are, and why they act they way they do.
3. I throw problems at them. They’re in the book for a reason, so they need to do something other than stand around looking pretty.
4. I write subplots involving my secondary characters. I find subplots add an extra layer to the story.
5. I let my characters change their minds. Just because my protagonist, Molly Tyler, is a vegetarian doesn’t meant that someday she won’t nibble on a drumstick.
6. I make sure my characters grow and change. One of my favorite authors writes a wonderful series (I won’t name names, but think numbers) and her main character (again, no names, but her last name rhymes with thumb), has been trying to decide between the two men in her life for I don’t know how long. Very frustrating not to have this character grow and change in some way re. these men. (Personally, I vote for Morelli). By the way, if you’re wondering who he is you don’t know what you’re missing, contact me, and I’ll tell you all about it!
7. Nothing more boring than perfect characters. I like quirks and imperfections readers can identify with.
And that’s how I try and make my characters interesting and unique!
Bun for Your Life
(A Bread and Batter Mystery)
Publisher: InterMix (November 17, 2015)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Setting – New York
Print Length: 245 pages
Two bakery owners get mixed up with murder in the first adventure in the all-new Bread and Batter Mystery series…
As the co-owners of Bread and Batter Bakery in Destiny, New York, Molly Tyler and Olivia Williams have plenty on their plates. Molly is recently divorced and looking for a place to live, but they’re also both preparing for Destiny’s annual Apple Harvest Fair. The bakery has a booth where they’ll be selling not only delicious cupcakes and cider doughnuts, but also tote bags and t-shirts emblazoned with the bakery’s logo.
Tensions rise at the fair when local orchard owner Calista Danforth discovers organizers have assigned her usual booth to Bread and Batter. Although a heated argument ensues between her and Molly, the bakery manages to rake in lots of dough. But when Calista is found strangled to death with one of their t-shirts, Molly is named the prime suspect. Now these two friends must whip up some answers quickly before the future of their business crumbles…
This series is off to a spectacular start!
Molly Tyler and Olivia Williams own and operate the Bread and Batter Bakery. It is time for Destiny, New York’s, Apple Harvest Fair and the girls are excited to have a prime spot for their booth. They had no idea the spot had always belonged to Calista Danforth. Calista was in quite a tizzy when she learned she would not be premiering her new Calista Sugar Pink apple in her usual space. She and Molly have quite an argument that happens to be witnessed by the wrong person. It isn’t until after Calista’s body is found strangled by a Bread and Batter t-shirt that Molly learns he is Detective Sean Corsino and he has just been hired by the Destiny Police Department, She also learns she is his prime suspect.
The characters are fleshed out and real. Molly and her ex are still friends, in fact they have moments when they still love each other except not at the same time, and he already has a new girlfriend. Molly is still close with his family. Olivia holds things together at the Bakery while Molly blazes a trail to find the killer. Detective Sean Corsino knows she’s investigating and tries to keep her out of trouble but when he needs to leave town for a few days things go to hell in a hand basket and a very unsuspected person saves the day. Sean also has an adorable basset hound named Beau.
This story was action from start to finish. I easily read it all in one sitting. There were many suspects, not just Molly, which the good detective soon realized. The final twist was so great. Love, Love, Loved it! A perfect recipe for a cozy mystery – picturesque small town, entertaining characters, and doughnuts!
Bun for Your Life was truly a fun read. A “dramedy” with just a little romantic tension. I can’t wait for book #2.
About The Author –
After having several short stories published, I decided to tackle novel writing a few years ago. My first book, The Art of Being Rebekkah, is women’s fiction. Since the genre I love is mystery, my agent suggested I write one. I’m so glad she did! I recently signed with Penguin/Intermix for my Bread and Batter cozy mystery series. The first two books, Bun For Your Life and Raisin The Dead, coming soon!
I’ve live in lots of different places during my life. At the moment, I’m in a small Connecticut town with my husband. When I’m not writing, I’m either reading, spending time by the water, traveling, indulging in social media, accompanying above-mentioned husband to New York Yankees games, or doing anything that does not involve math.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”