#WWoW! The Perfect Character Recipe

Welcome Jean Murray to WWoW today. Although her dreams of writing full time have yet to come true, she continues her writing journey and draws inspiration from her travels. She enjoys spending time with her family and of course, writing about the Carrigan sisters and their mates, Gods of the Underworld to bring the next installment of the Key to the Cursed series.

Jean brings a new spin to the paranormal world with her Egyptian Underworld gods.  She broke ground in the paranormal romance genre with Soul Reborn and now continues the Key to the Cursed journey with Soul Awakened.  With such great characters in her series, she's the perfect person for today's topic.

You can reach Jean at any of these following places:
WebSite  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  

The Perfect Character Recipe
I’m often asked, how do I create such deep characters?  What formula do I use to make them stand out?  Well, it isn’t so much a formula, but a recipe.  Something I can go back to time and time again and create characters of substance and leave readers craving more.  Mind you, this is my own mixed up way, but it’s an easy recipe to create a character with depth and personality with only four essential ingredients.

The Recipe  
I. CORE: (inner most layer) "The cream filling. Without it it’s just another cake."

A. Core values -
Our characters need to have us define what is at their very core. Their essence. Core values are at the center of it all. It drives them to do what they do or not do.  Our heroes/heroines and even villains have to make that connection with the reader. Remember our values are hidden deep within our core.  Most heroes in the beginning of the story “don’t know who they are.”  They haven’t defined themselves or their values are a bit skewed. It is the storyline and plot that drives and challenges them to discover who they really are by the end of the book.   Those core values will dominate their character by the end of the story. Yes, they have captured the prize but they have also grown as an individual.  It’s their shining moment!
Select three core values and stick with them.
Example:  Asar is my hero of Soul Reborn. He is the Egyptian God of the Underworld with the responsibility of judging the souls at the gates of the afterlife.  His three core values:  Wisdom-Integrity-Trust

II. Main Ingredients: (secondary layer) "1 cup of hard life, 2 tsps of values, and a dash of crazy."

A. Psychological profile - The next layer around which we build upon the core values is the character’s psychological profile. Specifically, how did they become the person they are now? Developing the background/biography of your character is very important and should be worked through before hitting the keyboard. This will define how they react to other people, situations, stress, loss, success etc… Our environment (parents, location, time period etc…) influences and molds who we are and how we define the values we just selected. Tragedy, stability, disease, health, illness, poverty, wealth, and abuse foster, mediate or degrade those core values.

Stir well, batter will be thick and lumpy, but that’s okay. Our characters are not perfect, in fact a few lumps makes them unique and interesting.

III. Secondary Ingredients: (third layer) "Add some spice to make your character zing."

A. Quirks, Compulsions, Fears, Dreams - We still need to up the flavor of our character’s recipe. The next step is to add secondary ingredients. Every recipe has an individual flavor that builds upon the foundation ingredients. They need to be rooted in the psychological profile and core values to exist and most importantly, be believable to the reader. You can’t have a quirk or compulsion without a reason. It’s rooted in our past we just need to find out what it is.

   Core values + Psychological profile = Quirks, Compulsions, Favorites, Fears, Dreams, Strengths, Weaknesses
IV: Toppings: (final layer) "Now it’s time to add the frosting.  It's all about presentation."

A. Physical This is not only how others see them, but how they see themselves. Yes, often we see our physical appearance in a different light. We focus on our flaws, when others see only our assets (or vice versa). Note: These are all opportunities to bleed in some of that backstory. Maybe a character dyes her hair because it is the same color as her mother's who abandoned her long ago. Does the character carry a scar from an event that drastically changed their life?  How does their self-esteem affect their appearance?

B. Emotional - Your emotional appearance balances your physical appearance. It is how we interact with our world both verbally and non-verbally. Are we great at hiding our feelings or is there no mistaking how we feel by our emotional expression (facial, gestures, posture)?  Keep in mind the core values, psychological profile and quirks. This is your means to express their effect on the character. Also, how do they talk or speak? What jargon or slang do they use? Does it match the setting or time period they are from?
You have all the important ingredients to a great character-- keep them handy as you write. Ask yourself - How are they going to grow in the course of your manuscript? How are their core values and characteristics influencing how they interact with your plot, challenges and other characters?  Sprinkle in these unique attributes to keep the reader engaged throughout the whole story. Once you are done, do another assessment of your character. Did they grow up into the person you envisioned them to be? It may take some subtle and not so subtle tweaks to get it right.

GIVEAWAY: Thank you for sharing your day with me. What are the ingredients to your hero or heroine? Care to share your recipe? 
Leave a comment and enter to win Kindle Fire HD/Soul Awakened Book Tour Giveaway

Publisher: Crescent Moon Press
Web Address: www.crescentmoonpress.com

BOOK I: Soul Reborn BUY LINK!
“Only the strongest love can unlock the souls of the Underworld.” 
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: Feb 2011

Asar, the Egyptian God of the Underworld, has been tortured and left soulless by a malevolent goddess, relegating him to consume the very thing he was commissioned to protect. Human souls. Now an empty shell of hatred, Asar vows to kill the goddess and anyone involved in her release, but fate crosses his path with a beautiful blonde huntress who has a soul too sweet to ignore.

Lilly, fearless commander of the Nehebkau huntresses, is the only thing standing in the way of the goddess' undead army unleashing hell on earth. But Lilly has a secret—one she is willing to sell her soul to keep. If the Underworld god discovers her role in the dig that released the goddess, she will lose everything, including his heart.

Night Owl Reviews: Reviewer’s Top PICK/ 5 Stars “The first book in the “Key to the Cursed” series was absolutely phenomenal. Anything that deals with old world deities and is written well always hooks me from the get go. This was definitely an excellent book to begin a new series.”

BOOK II: Soul Awakened BUY LINK!
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: Jan 2013

Kendra, an Egyptologist and demi-god in waiting, is the key to unlocking Bakari, the Egyptian God of Death, from his cursed slumber. Desperate to free him, she inadvertently binds herself to the god with a spell that only death will undo. To save Bakari from himself, she may have to sacrifice her innocence, and possibly her soul, before he becomes his family’s worst enemy.

Bakari awakens to a world at war and a beautiful woman who has tethered his soul to hers. In the wake of his self-destruction Kendra is his only hope of salvation, but another has vowed to keep Bakari from the one thing he craves most-- his Parvana. His butterfly.

Bitten by Paranormal Romance: 5/5 Alpha Howls, Hot “I don't know where to begin to describe the absolutely marvelous job that the author does in not only creating a wonderful world with so much depth and detail, but a story line the has the mystery and intrigue that will keep you glued to the pages.”

Read all this week's posts.

You can follow us on twitter at #WWoW. Or find us on facebook at Words of Wisdom. And soon we'll be opening our official WWoW blog - details to come!


  1. Great post and recipe for a character.

  2. Love the recipe and of course the post. You are always so dang creative From one Egyptian lover to another, V

  3. Hi Lacey.

    Thank you for stopping by.

    Nice to meet you.

    Jean Murray

  4. Hi Virginia.

    So good of you to stop by. Oh the tales to be had :-)

    Jean Murray

  5. WOW is right, haha. This was a fantastic post! I love the thought you put into making your characters and how it all comes to be. My own process is more like sculpting than baking. My characters start of as big blobs of clay. Nothing really to see. Once I have a general shape, I can start molding defining details here and there, and then eventually work on the finishing touches. I don't often know what I'm making before it's made, haha.

  6. Hi Dorothy.

    Oh, sculpting. I can see that working quite well. Thanks for sharing.



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