Tuesday, 27 March 2018

A Glimmer Of Hope by Steve McHugh - Guest Post

Life Of A Nerdish Mum is honoured to be a part of the blog tour for Steve McHugh's newest release, A Glimmer Of Hope. I recently reviewed the last book in his previous series, The Hellequin Chronicles, which was absolutely fabulous so I'm really excited about getting my hands on this book too. 

Now to hand over to Steve and a fabulous guest post on character creation...

Character Creation

Character creation is one of the cornerstones of being an author and writing something people want to read. Bad characters will doom a book, and good characters can carry a book along even if the plot isn’t that interesting. They’re frankly essential. They’re also one of the more difficult parts of writing to get right.

Now, I’m not saying I have the magical best method to do this, because no one does and anyone saying they do is wrong, but my method works for me, so maybe it’ll work for someone else.

And now for the part of the blog post where I discuss spreadsheets.

Yep, spreadsheets. I can almost hear a groan of boredom, and to be honest Excel isn’t exactly the most exciting of things to use, but stay with me.

Creating characters is something that gets easier the more you do it, but you probably don’t want to not have half a dozen people in the book who all look, sound, and act the same. That’s where the mighty spreadsheet comes in.

When I go to create a character, I start with a few details. Are they male or female? How old are they? What species are they? What’s their name? What’s their profession? What do they look like?

These details are necessary to figure out any character, and for characters that only have a small part, that’s fine. I log the details in my spreadsheet, giving a row to each character and the names of topics as the column headers. I’ll add them to the spreadsheet as I go through the book, as I don’t like to plan out in advance by a such a degree that I know all of the bit players before I get to them.

For characters I need to know more about from the start of the book (or  those that just pop in when you’re halfway through and you realize you need a new character), I have more columns for information to be added. So, more detailed abilities, their homelands, where they were born, allegiances, likes, dislikes, sexuality, etc.

It’s a lot of information to think about, but it really helps set the character to be something more real in my head. It also helps me, at least initially, to keep characters traits separate so I don’t have them start to behave in a way that isn’t realistic to that person.

The last thing you want to do is change how a character behaves because you forgot something, or because you wrote yourself into a corner. And I find that having all of the information about them readily available avoids that. It’s not perfect, but it works for me, and once I’ve filled in an entire row for a character, I usually find I have a good grasp on them. Also, it helps me change things about the character if I find they’re not working. If I get to the end of the row and something isn’t sitting right in my head, it’s usually easy to point to the part that I don’t think works.

So, yes, spreadsheets aren’t exactly sexy, nor are they the most exciting thing in the world, but they’re incredibly useful. I use them for all kinds of world building stuff by just putting tabs with different aspects of the world I’m working on. The time I spend entering the characters and details of the world they live in, allows me to realize who these people are.

A Glimmer Of Hope

From Steve McHugh, the bestselling author of The Hellequin Chronicles, comes a new urban fantasy series packed with mystery, action, and, above all, magic.
Layla Cassidy has always wanted a normal life, and the chance to put her father’s brutal legacy behind her. And in her final year of university she’s finally found it. Or so she thinks.
But when Layla accidentally activates an ancient scroll, she is bestowed with an incredible, inhuman power. She plunges into a dangerous new world, full of mythical creatures and menace—all while a group of fanatics will stop at nothing to turn her abilities to their cause.
To protect those she loves most, Layla must take control of her new powers…before they destroy her. All is not yet lost—there is a light shining, but Layla must survive long enough to see it.

To Pick Up Your Own Copy - Amazon UK

About The Author

Steve's been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up 'One boy and his frog' was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.

It wasn't for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel, the result of which is Crimes Against Magic.

He was born in a small village called Mexborough, South Yorkshire, but now lives with his wife and three young daughters in Southampton.
Twitter @StevejMchugh

Don't Forget To Check Out The Rest Of The Tour