How Stalking People Can Help Make Your Characters More Real - a guest post by Hannah White

September 22, 2017

   Morning, readers! Guess who's guest posting today? The epic Hannah White from Ink Blots And Coffee Stains is here to give y'all a few tips for how stalking people can make your characters more realistic (because, come on now, what kind of author doesn't watch people?).

   [quick aside: y'all only have four more days to enter the writing contest! If you're planning to, you better act fast]
   Alrighty, I'll go ahead and step aside now so that you guys can read Hannah's wonderful words.

   *exit Savannah*

how stalking people can help make your characters more realistic - a guest post by Hannah White [header image]

I want to quickly give a huge thank you to Savannah for letting me guest post on her absolutely lovely blog! I’ve followed Scattered Scribblings for quite a while now, and it’s such a privilege to get to come visit and write to the rest of the awesome people that hang out here.

Now, on with the post!

Let’s face it: we all stalk people.

We might not do it to the caliber that criminals and creepy guys in TV shows do, but we do watch people. We tend to be a bit nosy, dropping ease on the particularly loud couple in the aisle next to you, or the family of five in line in front of you.

It’s part of being observant. But have you ever thought about just how beneficial stalking people could be?

Allow me to shed some light on the subject.

I’m not really sure how it started, but when I was around twelve or so and realized just how awesome keeping a journal could be, I started to make notes of people I saw. Little quirks about them that drew my notice, enough so that I wanted to make a note of them.

What kind of things, you ask? I took a little trip down memory lane to find these special notes, just for you.

*Blue hair with white highlights.

*Hunches shoulders and purses lips and squinting – normal driving posture

*Thick chin

*Silky smooth hair

*Mouse-ish face—small and beady

*High, tittering laugh

Do you get the picture?

They’re little things that are, well, little, but somehow can make the difference between a cardboard cutout and a living, breathing being. Sometimes just one physical detail to ground us in the character is more helpful than hair/eye color and a description of the person’s shirt or height.

The real value is in the little things. Phrases people say that are distinct, different gaits, a person’s “relaxed” expression. (Do they naturally look angry? Sad? Happy?) If you watch people, you’ll notice all these little questions have answers. Because real people have these. Real people have little quirks.

character image [1]

Look around at people. Notice them. Notice what they wear. Do they wear bright colors or are they always dressed in dark? If they wear bright colors, why do you think that is? Don’t let yourself be confined to what you see. Feel free to use your imagination. (If you see someone with a mohawk that makes you think of a bald person with red tattoos, write down a bald person with red tattoos.) If you have a character that wears bright colors, you might consider how that reflects his/her personality.

What about phrases? Is there a certain word your character likes? Where did they pick it up? At home, work, school? A favorite book or TV show? Have you heard the phrase before? How do you think that person has been raised differently than you, given the way they speak? Is their grammar poor?

What about specific words to replace others? For example, I made a note when someone called my feet “clod-hoppers”. (I think he had a history in farming? It’s been a few years :P ) Some people might call a bag a purse, or a sack, or a satchel. Some people might call a phone a cell, a tablet, or a telephone. Having characters call things by certain names shines a light into their past. And if your main character meets someone new and they both have different words for the same thing, that grounds you in the reality that these characters are different, and you begin to forget they were created, not born.

What about a person’s voice? Is there anything noticeable about your main character’s voice? Is it high or low? Is it higher for a man’s voice, or low for a girl’s voice? Is it soft or loud? Whiney or musical? Are they insecure about it, or can they not get enough of their own words?

What about a person’s hair? Is it long or short? Do they use gel, or do they let it go wild and free? Do they wear it up or down? Do they use headbands? Do they wear hats? What kinds of hats? Do they like to spike it up in the front? Do they curl it frequently? Is it always different, or always the same? How does that reflect character?

What are their tells? Do they blink really hard when they’re lying? Do they swallow, or fiddle with their hands, or maintain eye contact and hold perfectly still? What about when they’re happy? Does their nose crinkle up? Do their eye brows scrunch up in their forehead? Do they purse their lips, or do they smile wide and huge?

character image [2]

In a world full of stories, we want our books—and our characters—to stand out. We want them to draw attention. And little details like these are so easy to overlook. Who cares if your main character likes to wear their hair in a messy bun and looks like a completely different person when she takes it down? Who would notice if that one guy walks leaning slightly to his right?

We might not even notice details like this when we’re reading (if they’re given). But somehow, little things like these bring life and blood to your story. It makes those characters breathe. It makes them stand out in the world of black and white.


Because we can connect to them. We see them everywhere we go, even if we don’t stop to consciously pay attention to them. We can imagine a girl who never takes off her sweater, no matter the temperature. That’s a marker we can remember her by. We can remember the boy who showers so much because he doesn’t want to smell, that his hands always smell like pineapples from the lotion he steals from his mom’s bathroom.

These are the things that stick out.

These are the things we remember.

So pay attention. Take notes. Figure out what it is about a person that makes them significant in your mind, and infuse it into your writing. It just might be that missing piece to your character that you’ve been looking for.

hannah white's bio image

do you get character ideas from watching people?
where have you found some of your coolest character ideas?
feel free to chat with Hannah in the comments!

Wanted: A Superhero To Save The World - BLOG TOUR (Book Spotlight And Author Interview With Bryan Davis)

September 20, 2017

Wanted: A Superhero To Save The World [blog tour banner]
   I would ask you to guess what book was recently released, but I think you've guess it by the title :D. Wanted: A Superhero To Save The World by Bryan Davis came out 9 days ago, and it's Mr. Davis's first middle grade book. I'm so excited to dig into it and see what it's like!

the summary

Wanted: A Superhero To Save The World [cover image] Eddie Hertz is smart, real smart. He has to be. What other twelve-year-old patrols the streets of Nirvana alone, hoping to foil the schemes of the evil Mephisto? Since Eddie is small for his age, he trusts in his Batman-style gadgets belt and acrobatic skills as well as lots of experience, like knowing how to swing across dark alleys without being seen.

Eddie has a dream, to become like Damocles, Nirvana’s great superhero. To make that dream come true, Eddie invented a device that is supposed to give him superpowers, but using it on himself is dangerous, maybe even fatal. He doesn’t have the nerve to try it.

When Mephisto unleashes an earthquake machine on the city, Eddie gets a surprising teammate — his quirky eight-year-old sister, Samantha, who comes up with an unexpected way to help Eddie in the frantic battle to prevent the biggest earthquake of all.
Since Damocles has lost his ability to help in physical form, Eddie and Samantha are the only hope for Nirvana and the world.

the author

Bryan Davis author picture
Bryan Davis is the author of the Dragons in Our Midst, Oracles of Fire, Children of the Bard, the Reapers Trilogy, Dragons of Starlight, Tales of Starlight, and the Time Echoes Trilogy, fantasy/science fiction/dystopian novels for youth and adults. His first novel, Raising Dragons, was released in July of 2004, and several books in that series have hit various bestseller lists, including Eye of the Oracle, which hit number one on the CBA Young Adult best-seller list in January of 2007.

Bryan was born in 1958 and grew up in the eastern U.S. From the time he taught himself how to read before school age, through his seminary years and beyond, he has demonstrated a passion for the written word, reading and writing in many disciplines and genres, including theology, fiction, devotionals, poetry, and humor.
Bryan is a graduate of the University of Florida (B.S. in Industrial Engineering). In high school, he was valedictorian of his class and won various academic awards. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and voted Most Likely to Succeed.
Bryan and his wife, Susie, work together as an author/editor team to create his imaginative tales.

   Wanted: A Superhero To Save The World looks like it's going to be an amazing book - I read the excerpt of it on Amazon, and I'm dying to get my hands on a paperback copy! (and the cover has a good deal of blue on it, and you guys all know how biased I am when it comes to blue books) Mr. Davis has kindly agreed to be interviewed here today, so let's get on to that, shall we? (my words are in bold, his are normal)

   Savannah Grace: when did you start writing, and what inspired you to do it?

   Bryan Davis: I began writing about 23 years ago as a way to get my children interested in the craft. We created a story together and added to it bit by bit until it became a full-length novel. I enjoyed the process so much and saw how my children were impacted by the story’s themes, I decided to get more training by reading books on writing and going to writers’ conferences.

Eye Of The Oracle [cover image]
   Out of all your novels, which was the hardest to write?

   Eye of the Oracle, the first book in the Oracles of Fire series, was the hardest to write. Normally it takes me about four months to write a fully edited novel. This one took six months, and since I put a lot of personally relevant issues into the story, the themes and their emotional impact drained me to the core.

   How long did it take you to get your first novel published after you started trying?

   Getting published the first time turned out to be an eight-year learning journey. During that journey, I accumulated more than 200 rejections. It was sometimes tough to push the discouragement to the side and carry on, and I am grateful for the encouragement I received through the difficult years.

   Every author has to play favorites at least a little bit – who are some of your favorite characters that you’ve written?

   I enjoy writing strong, virtuous characters who inspire me, such as Adrian Masters in the Tales of Starlight series, Bonnie Silver in Dragons in our Midst, Nathan Shepherd in Time Echoes, and Phoenix in the Reapers Trilogy.

I also enjoy putting a little of myself into a few characters. From Dragons in our Midst, Professor Hamilton reflects my analytical side, Jared Bannister reveals my fatherly side, and a trio of females, Bonnie Silver, Sapphira, and Acacia display my spiritual ideals.

   How do you decide on your character’s names?

   Some character names pop into my head, and they feel right. I get quite a few other names from baby naming websites. In those sites, I often look for old names with meanings that match a character’s qualities. A source I have used for dragon names is an online fantasy-name generator. I took a few of the suggested names and tweaked them to my liking.

   Do you normally plot out your books before you write them, or do you just start writing and see what happens?

   I am what is often called a seat-of-the-pants writer. I have a basic premise in mind and maybe a main character, but I have no idea how the story will progress. I just sit down and start writing about a character’s ordinary world, then I ruin that world with some sort of crisis event.

   That event creates an object of desire, a goal that the character wants to achieve. Most of the rest of the story follows how the character pursues that goal, though I don’t know what will happen until I actually sit and type it out.

   What inspired you to try writing a MG book?

   My main reason for writing a middle-grade novel is simple. Parents and teachers at schools, homeschool groups, and conferences have told me that they have readers who couldn’t handle the young adult books I had written. The size and content were too intimidating. I wanted to reach younger readers, so I created a story that is much more within their reach.

   How has God shown Himself to you through your writing process?

   Whenever I write timeless themes in my stories, such as self-sacrifice, courage, forgiveness, etc, I often learn more about spiritual truths through circumstances in my own life. I submit to you the following story as one example in which God revealed that He wanted to guide my writing process.

   Those were wonderful answers, Mr. Davis - thank you for sharing them with us! I had a lot of fun with this interview, and the story you shared with us was incredible. (to the rest of you - read that story that he linked to. It's powerful.)

   Before I close out this post - there are two giveaways going on for this blog tour! The first one is a simple rafflecopter drawing (click the link to get to the rafflecopter), but the second one has a bit of a twist ;). To enter the second giveaway - the Grand Prize giveaway! (again, click the link) -  you'll need to find a number in each post in this blog tour, add them up, and and plug the sum into the giveaway in order to gain entry. Good luck finding all the numbers! Here are the rest of the blog tour stops ...      

Wednesday, September 20th

Tour Kickoff @ The Author’s Chair

Book Spotlight @ Backing Books

Book review and YOU WRITE: About Bryan Davis @ Zerina Blossom’s Books

Book Spotlight and Review @ The Spooky Bookshelf

Book Spotlight and Author Interview @ Scattered Scribblings

Book Review and Character Interview @ Light and Shadows

Thursday, September 21st

Book Spotlight and YOU WRITE: About Bryan Davis @ Red Lettering

Spotlight and Author Interview @ The Reader Addict

Spotlight and YOU WRITE: About Bryan Davis @ target verified

Book Review and Character Interview @ Hidden Doorways

Book Review @ Ashley Bogner

Book Review @ The Page Dreamer

Friday, September 22nd

Book Spotlight and Character Interview @ Story of Fire

Book Review @ Inkwell

Book Spotlight and Character Interview @ Liv K. Fisher

Book Review @ writinganyone

Spotlight and YOU WRITE: About Superheroes @ Dreams and Dragons

Author Interview and YOU WRITE: About Bryan Davis @ March to a Different Drum

Book Spotlight @ Author Jaye L. Knight

Saturday, September 23rd

Author Interview @ Jessi L. Roberts, author

Book Spotlight and Character Interview @ Book Lovers Life

Book Review and Character Interview @ Verbosity Reviews

Book Spotlight, Author Interview and YOU WRITE: Superheroes @ Creature of Graphite

Character Interview @ Wanderer’s Pen

Book Spotlight and Author Interview @ Adventure Awaits

   Best of luck finding all the numbers, bookdragons! Have an epic September <3.

~ Savannah Grace

have you read this book yet?
what's your favorite Bryan Davis book?