Growing Characters, A Guest Post by Angela Clarke, author of Watch Me

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I’m thrilled to be taking part in the launch celebrations for Watch Me by Angela Clarke. Watch Me was published by Avon Books on 12th January 2017 and is available for purchase in e-book and paperback here and through the publisher links here.

To celebrate Watch Me‘s launch, Angela has kindly provided a guest post all about developing characters across a series and she is running a very special giveaway (UK only I’m afraid) to win a copy of Watch Me and a specially selected guest book. Today it is a signed copy of Catherine Ryan Howard’s Distress Signals: A missing girl. A trail of secrets. A killer who’s found the perfect hunting ground.

There are details of how to enter at the bottom of this post.

Watch Me

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YOU HAVE SIX SECONDS TO READ THIS MESSAGE…

The body of a 15-year-old is found hours after she sends a desperate message to her friends. It looks like suicide, until a second girl disappears.

This time, the message is sent directly to the Metropolitan Police – and an officer’s younger sister is missing.

DS Nasreen Cudmore and journalist Freddie Venton will stop at nothing to find her. But whoever’s behind the notes is playing a deadly game of hide and seek – and the clock is ticking.

YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO SAVE THE GIRL’S LIFE.
MAKE THEM COUNT.

How to Grow Characters Across a Series

A Guest Post by Angela Clarke

Here are some key questions writers can ask themselves to make sure they are developing and growing their characters across a series:

  1. Has your character changed? Basic story theory says that a character should be changed in some way at the end of a tale. They should be altered; physically, psychologically, or figuratively, from how they are at the beginning of the story. They will have been affected by the events that have taken place. For a series writer, this means you start a new book with a character that is distorted from how they were in previous books. We are all shaped by our own experiences, and it must be the same for your characters. They don’t exist in a vacuum where you press reset each time you start a new book in a series. It makes sense, for example, that Freddie Venton, the protagonist in the first Social Media Murder Series Follow Me is changed by her encounter with a serial killer. Thus in book two, Watch Me, she is not the brash, fearless wannabe-journalist we meet at the beginning of Follow Me. She is different. She reacts differently. She has different struggles. Different provocations. She has changed.
  2. Has your character grown up? Your character will have aged and learnt from their previous experience. Never mind anything else, characters who repeatedly make the same mistakes create formulaic and stale stories. This is your opportunity to shake things up. Perhaps your hero is at a fresh stage in their life, or they are now in a serious relationship, or have dependents? This will all affect how they act and react, as well as give you as a writer new areas for pressure and clashes. A former lone wolf who now has a loving partner, now also has new vulnerabilities. Have fun by playing with the rules of the game.
  3. Does your character have a core unresolved conflict that spans books? Claire McGowan’s Paula Maguire series is superb example of how to nail this. Her protagonist Paula’s mother vanished when she was thirteen years old, and has never been seen since. Not only does this key moment affect and shape Paula as an adult (she becomes a forensic psychologist specialising in missing people, and has trust issues in her personal life), it also feeds an ongoing story. What did happen to Paula’s mother? As the series evolves, pieces of the puzzle fall into place, drawing out the suspense in Paula’s own life, and transcending that of each novel’s core investigation.
  4. Can you change the key players? Has the grudgingly accepting boss of your detective been replaced by a new ambitious, PR-aware head of department? Changing one or two key players in your series will have an effect on your protagonist. For example, in Watch Me, book two in the Social Media Murder Series, DS Nasreen Cudmore has been moved to a new specialised e-crime unit. Not only does this mean she has to prove herself afresh, but it also means she has a whole new set of office politics to learn and navigate. Needless to say, it doesn’t go smoothly. New characters and new restrictions create new conflicts and tensions; vital components of story.
  5. What about other reoccurring characters? Ask the same questions above of your other characters: their lives will also be progressing, they will also be changing. As a series proceeds, you have a great opportunity to develop secondary characters into more vital roles. This means you have a new wealth of battles, frictions and motivations to mine.

UK Only Giveaway

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UK readers have six seconds to read this message and until UK midnight today 17th January 2017 to enter. To enter, click here.

About Angela Clarke

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Angela Clarke is an author, columnist and playwright. Her debut crime novel Follow Me was the first in the Social Media Murders Series.

Her memoir Confessions of a Fashionista (Ebury) is an Amazon Fashion Chart bestseller. Her debut play The Legacy received rave reviews after it’s first run at The Hope Theatre in June 2015. Angela’s journalist contributions include: The Guardian, The Independent Magazine, The Daily Mail, and Cosmopolitan. Now magazine described her as a ‘glitzy outsider’. Angela read English and European Literature at Essex University, and Advances in Scriptwriting at RADA. In 2015 Angela was awarded the Young Stationers’ Prize for achievement and promise in writing and publishing.

She is almost always late or lost, or both.

You can follow Angela on Twitter, find her on Facebook and visit her website. There’s more with these other bloggers too:

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7 thoughts on “Growing Characters, A Guest Post by Angela Clarke, author of Watch Me

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