08 July, 2017

#SpecialFeature :: Five ways to make your character real by Shweta Taneja


*** Special Feature - July 2017 ***



About the Book:
Tantrik detective Anantya Tantrist is back, smart-ass comments, dark mantras and all.

In Banaras, Bhairava, a black tantrik, sets out to win control of life through mass murder, aided by an army of pretas. In Delhi, a tribal supernatural melts to death in a five-star hotel on the same night that an ancient demonologist is murdered. All this while, the government and the Central Association of Tantriks choose to look the other way and gods, demi-gods, immortals and rakshasas all join Bhairava’s army.

All that stands between the murdering bosses and the hapless masses is unofficial detective Anantya Tantrist, armed with a boneblade, a tote of mandalas and a cocky attitude. Just as she begins to see a pattern between a goddess who is selling art, a miracle-producing minister, an undead mob attacking a rock concert and her immortal friend throwing a tantrum, Anantya faces her most personal hell: her ex-boyfriend Neel has come back from the dead and is trying to kill her. He’s not the only one, of course. A powerful rakshasi wants her head, a pair of demi-gods wants her blood and the trolls are trying to squash her to pulp.

She cannot even sleep off the exhaustion, because each time she drops off, Bhairava invades her mind, trying to consume it. Join Anantya as she faces her most formidable enemy yet in the ultimate battle for her mind and her city.

Book Links:
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Five ways to make your character real

The most hyperreal character I created till now is Anantya Tantrist, the tantrik detective and the heroine of my latest, Cult of Chaos. She has made me schizophrenic. I know her voice so well, that I can hear her talk in my head, can tweet as her and myself at the same time, having conversations over Twitter or tell you what she would be saying right now for this blog (“Why’re you wasting your time? Do something creative.”). When I was still pitching her book, I met A, the editor, the HarperCollins editor of the series in India and told her that she had to say yes to the book, because Anantya liked her. And I wasn’t lying. It was the truth. She’s that real to me. Like a friend. So here, I share what I’ve learnt while creating her. Here’s my bits on how to create characters that are crazy real.

1 Take her out on a date

You want to know what the biggest antihero of your book thinks like. What does he want? Why does he want to destroy the world? Does he like coffee or prefer tea? Is he an alcoholic? Meeting a character is like meeting a stranger on a date. Ask them inane questions. Do they like chocolate or strawberry icecream? You have to ask them what they are like, what they want from their lives, what they desire, what they feel about traffic jams, what their objective in life is. Spend a day, talking to your character, even the minor one. Romance her, fall in love, or hate her like you would the guy who persistently honks behind you in a stuck traffic jam.

2 Find out how she speaks

Readers love dialogues. Many of us while reading a book skip all the details, the paragraphs that talk about atmosphere and stuff and go to the dialogues. Dialogues are by far the most important way that readers will know your characters from. So it’s very important to know how your character speaks. Hear. Listen to what people say, how they say it. Everyone of us has a style of speech. Try and bring that out for your character. What are the words she uses the maximum? The repetitive things she says after each sentence? You want to make it real, yes, but not so real that it has repeated sentences. So keep it short.

3 Know the emotional ticks

After the date, this is the second level of knowing your character. What are the social issues they connect to the most? What makes them raving mad, or crazy? What brings tears to their eyes? For even the vilest of villains would have that soft spot somewhere. Find out what makes them sad, what’s their emotional curve. Know it when you’re writing and your readers will feel it too.

4 Put in her past experiences

I call this the soul of the character. As we grow, we absorb experiences each day and you need to know what your character’s past was to understand how they will behave now. What has happened to them in their past? Who were the people they grew up with? Like 90s soap operas, physical abuse, the desire to own a car or bullying a classmate or a pet. These experiences make the person we become and if you know the character’s past, you will know how they will react to situations, when and how they will act and take the story forward. To know your characters is to know your story too.

5 Listen to her body, beyond the face.


Body language is a very important aspect in detailing a character. Whether you write first-person narrative or third, you have to know how the character blink their eyes when they talk, how they smile, what changes in their body language when certain people are around. Find words for them, keep them listed somewhere. How our eyes look when we speak, how do our legs and hands move. Is her hair disheveled or clean, how does she smell? What are her most prominent features? How does she move her hands and arms and legs when she speaks? Build your vocabulary about the character and you’ll be able to bring her out in flesh and blood through words.

Originally posted on Shweta Writes

About the Author:
I am a fantasy author, graphic novelist and journalist based in India. My weakness is to create, retell and listen to stories full of magic, fantasy and non-human thingummies. That and tea of course.

I’ve written seven books and two hundred articles in a career spanning fourteen years and I continue to write. I’m a Charles Wallace India Fellow (2016) and was shortlisted for Best Writer Award in ComicCon India for The Skull Rosary (2013).

My books include the bestselling series Anantya Tantrist mysteries (HarperCollins), Ghost Hunters of Kurseong (Hachette), and Krishna Defender of Dharma (Campfire). The latter is included in the CBSE Must-read list for schools, is sold internationally and has been reprinted many times. The latest How to Steal a Ghost @ Manipal (Juggernaut Books) is in the bestselling category online. Check out my Wikipedia for more on me.

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Giveaway:
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