The Compulsive Reader: Guest Post: E.R. Arroyo

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Guest Post: E.R. Arroyo

E.R. Arroyo is the author of Sovereign, which was just released as an e-book and paperback! Today I have E.R. Arroyo on the blog talking about character development and her new book!

To me, as a reader—and I am a reader first, an author second—character is king. It took me a while to discover this, but after many bouts with “I don’t care about this book and don’t know why,” I finally learned that I crave rich, likeable characters. If I don’t like the characters, I can’t connect with a book. Plain and simple.

So as a writer, it’s important to me to craft characters that feel authentic, natural, and likable to my readers. A lot of preparatory work goes into my outlining, but I spend more time crafting characters than I do developing plot. In a way, characters can drive the plot if I’ve done my due diligence with them. 

In my planning stages, I always start with a basic inspiration. Usually a scene that has played out in my head, or maybe a dream that included a few different scenes. From there I develop a basic premise. After that, I dive right into characters. I need to know who my key players are, what makes them unique from the other characters (mentally as well as physically), what their backgrounds are, and what their motivations, goals, weaknesses, and epiphanies (how the character changes by the end) are. That’s just a general idea, there’s a lot more to it. This approach is based largely on a plotting technique called “The Snowflake Method.” But I’ll admit, I spend a lot more time on character charts than writing out my plot. By the time I’ve created my character sketches, I can’t wait to start writing, so my notes are way heavier in the character section than the plot section of my outline. 

I find that a plot can change a lot once I’m full-swing into the writing. Sometimes I have a better idea after I’ve already started. As long as I have my characters well designed, these plot changes come to me naturally, and don’t often upset what I’ve already written. Sometimes, I have to change things later, but that’s just a part of the process, I think, for every writer.

One of my favorite experiences with writing a character was actually in my novel Sovereign. One guy in particular was originally written as a plot tool—I needed him to be present for a certain scene that needed to take place. I later found more and more places to use him, and I simply ended up developing quite an affection for him. In later drafts, I went back through and weaved him into the story even more, and many of my readers have fallen in love with him. To me, that is simply incredible, because I never even made a characterization on him. No mention of him, no chart, nothing at all in my outlining. He just showed up one day and turned into this beautiful character. So that’s a little about my approach to character, and I’m certain there is still so much I can learn and look forward to learning as I get more experience as an author.

I hope that readers enjoy my characters as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Thank you for hosting me on your blog! Have a great day!

Thanks, E.R. Arroyo! If you'd like to read a copy of Sovereign, fill out the entry form below to win one of three signed copies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Unknown said...

Thanks so much for hosting my blog tour and sharing my guest post on your site! Good luck to all your readers in the giveaway!

LinWash said...

This is a great post. I love E.R. Arroyo's methods for developing her characters, and the fact that a character surprised her by becoming such a huge part of the story. I have a few characters like that!