Monday, March 7, 2011

Normal people make great characters

I’d like to welcome multi-published Emma Lai to the blog today.  Her latest release is Twice is Not Enough, published by The Wild Rose Press.

Greetings to readers of The Write Characters and thank you Sue for letting me guest on your blog today. My name is Emma Lai, and I am a published author with four eBooks under my belt (though I’ll admit, none exceed the 20,000 mark).

Sue’s question about what makes my characters memorable intrigued me. Recently, I found a new critique partner and we were discussing whether our works are character-driven or plot-driven. I’ve concluded my stories are more plot driven. That said, I, of course, still have to have characters the reader will care about. Otherwise, why would anyone bother to read the story?

I normally get my ideas for stories when a scene flashes to mind. In my recent release, Twice is Not Enough, available from The Wild Rose Press, the scene that popped to mind involved my hero and heroine witnessing another couple’s illicit rendezvous. I knew from the characters’ dress that the story would be a Regency and given the situation, it seemed inevitable the story would be an erotica, but I didn’t know who the characters were.

I did what a lot of writers do, I talked to my characters to discover who they were. Lady Minerva Peters immediately asserted herself. She told me she’d been fleeing the ballroom, looking for a quite place after overhearing her father trying to marry her off yet again. This tidbit led me to ask more questions. Why would a well-bred woman not want to marry and have a family of her own? What happened during her father’s previous attempts to marry her off?

The answers to the previous two questions revealed a wealth of information about Minerva. She was strong-willed, not prone to showing her emotions and loved her family to the point she put their desires above her own. To me, she sounded like any number of women I actually know. I was very happy when Vicky at Sizzling Hot Book Reviews wrote, ”Minerva is strong enough that I wouldn’t be surprised to meet her one day.”

However, being strong doesn’t necessarily make her memorable. I think what makes her memorable is the fact she’s not a stereotype, but rather a normal person dealing with life as best she could. As Vicky from Sizzling Hot Book Reviews put it, “Minerva doesn’t fit any of the usual molds. She is not the chunky, chubby smart one, nor is she the beautiful spitfire, nor is she any of the other typical models used when writing. She is just a normal person caught in everyday life.”


After several disastrous engagements, Lady Minerva Peters is an expert at suppressing her own needs. Only in the darkness of night does she give in to her wanton desires with a fantasy lover.

In the middle of a crowded ballroom, she learns her father is not yet ready to let her fade into spinsterhood. Humiliated, she ducks into a dark alcove only to find out she's not alone. Her hiding spot is occupied by a captivating stranger. Before she can escape, the two become voyeurs to another couple’s sexual rendezvous. The atmosphere heats up and so does her body, especially with the tempting offers whispered in her ear.

Will Minerva deny her needs once again or will she embrace the anonymity of their seclusion and finally explore her basic impulses and the startling attraction to the compelling mystery man?


  1. Ooh, I love strong women in books. That's one trait my heroines always have - strength. Even when they don't see it in themselves, it's there.

    Can't wait to read Twice is Not Enough. I'm planning on loading it on my Kindle so I can read during lunch breaks this week.


  2. I just read Twice Is Not Enough last night! :) It's great -- and H.O.T. ! *whew* I really liked Minerva, but I don't want to go into detail and spoil the plot.
    Thanks for a great post and a great read!!

  3. Hope you enjoy the new job, Sarah! It's always exciting starting something new. Let me know what you think of Twice.

  4. Ah...thanks Jennifer! Glad you enjoyed the book. Can't wait to read Rafe's Redemption! Now if I could find some you think I could convince my son to play quietly for a couple of hours?

  5. Thanks for hosting, Sue. I loved the thought provoking topic.

  6. Emma -- I love the set up for your book. Historicals are one of my fave genres and this plot is a bit out of the ordinary from those I've read before. I'm going to head over to TWRP and pick it up. Thanks, Sue and Emma for a new way to look at my character building strategies.

  7. Thanks Robin! Hope you enjoy it. I try and do something a little out of the ordinary with either the plot or character. Nothing like a new twist.

  8. Thanks for visiting today, Emma. This sounds like a book with interesting characters. I love putting a normal person in a strange situation and watching them react.

  9. Hi Emma,
    An intriguing post. I, too, love a strong woman although I stumble and fumble initially until I get a grasp of who they really are. Much success to you!

  10. Hi, Emma, I enjoyed your post. You told us a lot about Minerva and made me want to read more about her. I like the way you go about getting to know your characters. I've just put Twice Is Not Enough on my Kindle to buy list.

  11. Thanks Vonnie and Cara! Minerva is one of my favorite heroines I've written to date.

  12. Emma, Minerva sounds like a character you would remember long after the tale is told.