Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Archive for the tag “Characters”

Keeping Heroes Heroic

Keeping Heroes Heroic

When I was a wee little lass, scarcely old enough to be allowed to remain awake during napping time, far from understanding the complexities of writing—though my timeline is likely a little mixed up (few young children categorize: On this date, at three o’ clock in the afternoon, I decided I want to be a writer), I doubt I had any interest in writing stories at that point.

Ah, but I loved to read. This was a good thing, with all of the reading we young ones did for school in those days, and through studying certain old legends and myths, I found myself a hero. A brave man, strong, the very best of the king’s knights. I adored him, my hero, and through a few weeks of study, decided he must have been the best man in medieval history.

His name was Lancelot du Lac. And before you ask: no, I didn’t know.

The first time I wept at a book wasn’t a gentle sniffle or misty eyes. No, it was with tears streaming down my face, barely able to speak, tears clogging my voice as I gasped, “No, Lancelot, don’t, please.

On that day, my first hero fell.

He did the thing with Guinevere that even I, a small lass though I was, knew was wrong. I desperately hoped that he’d turn back, that he’d make things right, but the hero that I had loved never did. Furthermore, Lancelot and Guinevere caused everything to fall to pieces. Wow. Well done, you two.

There is so much stress these days on giving your heroes (or heroines) flaws. It doesn’t matter who they are, where they come from, or what they do — as long as they make horrible decisions, mistakes, or are wretched people. While I’m all for having characters that are people (and therefore are fallible, have doubts sometimes, make mistakes, and may have flaws), there’s such an emphasis on making sure they aren’t perfect, that people seem to have forgotten what heroes are.

Heroes are the men and the women who step up and do what’s right, no matter how hard it is. They’re the folks who never give up the fight. Sure, they consider quitting. But eventually, they keep fighting for what is right and good, because that’s what  hero does.

To quote The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything*, “The hero isn’t the smartest, strongest, or the best looking. The heroes are the ones who do what’s right.”

What you look for in a hero, which many people try and fake with flaws, is personality. Instead of throwing in random flaws or terrible habits, take the time to develop your characters into the type of person who is a hero. People look to fiction to find heroes (whether we ought to or not). Make your character the type who inspires your readers to do good.

Though, what matters in the end is not whether or not they were a perfect person during the book. They may have made mistakes at times — huge mistakes. But in the end, if they understand, if they want to make it right, if they’ve learned, and if they’ve turned themselves around, they are heroes.

Lancelot never got that. Perhaps, if Lancelot had turned himself around and did his best to make right what couldn’t really be made right, he would still be my favorite character, or at least the Arthurian Legends would still be my favorite of all the legends.

But this once good hero crashed, failed, and did not find redemption. And I never remember loving any other character as much as I loved him. I never cried over a book as much as I cried over him. I never again trusted a hero as much as I trusted him.

You may be laughing to yourself. Boy, does that sound overly dramatic. But it is true.

Make your heroes heroes.  Make them love and live, and die, and make mistakes, but make them right. (Actually, the die part isn’t really necessary.)

As an afterthought: I may still be just a tad prickly about Lancelot. Beware what you comment.

*You may think you’re too old for The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything. You aren’t. It’s one of my favorite movies — and I am very picky about my movies. 

Two Stereotyped Kinds of Women and How to Avoid Them

Two Stereotyped Kinds of Women - And How to Avoid Them

I am very particular about the females in the books that I read, especially the main female character. These days, it gets hard to find a clean book with a realistic and relatable female main character—even in novels written by women.

Ladies in books tend to fall into two very different categories: the Weeper, and the Warrior. Both of these are drastically enhanced versions of two very different personality traits found in basically girls. Writers have taken two extremes in women, and eliminated all other character from them; half of the women found in books nowadays are more caricatures than characters.

The Characteristics of The Warrior


She is frequently the leader of an army or a country. She wears pants, and finds skirts horrible (can frequently be heard saying, “Who wears those?” or “I can’t move in them!”). She does not cry. She does not do a whole lot of quiet conversing . She does not wear her hair long—or if she does, she always has it put up.  She is fantastic with fighting, and can beat practically anyone (in spite of the size and strength differences between males and females).

She is always hard and quick, and has very little moments where you see her emotions.

The Characteristics of a Weeper

The classic lady in distress, she has a tendency to stand back when the hero fights (or, worse, faint). She spends a lot of the time crying; she does not wear pants, does not carry a sword. She often gets kidnapped by a dragon. She can frequently be found in older movies (Westerns, for example).

She does not shout (though she sometimes screams) and does not hide her emotions.

The problem with both of these character types? No one is like that. 

Sure, some people hide their emotions more than others. Some people would faint at the sight of blood (but I honestly can’t think of anyone I know who would), and some are good at physical combat.

The author takes something away from them when he or she makes their character to be like this. Humans are complicated beings. They contradict themselves in their personality, they’re different from any other person in the world. Your characters are worth making into realistic, relatable people. I don’t tend to go on adventures frequently. It’s the strange thing about living in modern America; dragons don’t visit very often. Therefore, to make me go on an adventure with your characters, you have to make your characters as alive as you can possibly make them.

You have to find a balance between a strong female character and a female female character.

You need to realize that no one will hate you for having a female character who is not overly strong.

Those who care enough to read your books will be looking for honest characters. They will want a girl, who just happens to be strong, not the other way around.

You also need to realize that no one will hate you for having a girl who is strong.

Because, to be honest, we readers aren’t too picky after you get your characters past the cliches.

Make your characters female.

Make them alive. 

Make them honest. 

Anything else—whether they lead an army, or end up fainting a half-dozen times in three hundred pages is up to you.

After that, you will have to go through the general character development process. But look out for these two character types in your novel, and give the characters more than a stereotyped appearance; make them deeper than that.

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge Responses: Antagonists

Get to Know Your Characters ChallengeToday is Thursday, readers—Thursday the 16th. As promised, the Get to Know Your Characters: Antagonist closes today, with some exceptional pieces of work from a couple of different writers. Do go check out their work, and I’m sure they would love to have you comment!

First Blood, by Michael Hollingworth

Prompt Chosen: Write about the first time your villain killed or ordered the death of someone.

So Easy, by Beckah (Ghost Ryter)

Prompt Chosen: Write about the first time your villain killed or ordered the death of someone.

Untitled, by Katie Grace

Prompt Chosen: Your antagonist is between three and ten. Write something that represents their life at that point.

I decided to write something with my villain from IOTW. It brought up a slightly awkward question of what exactly to call him; he gave my protagonist four choices when she first asked his name. Eventually I decided to call him what he’s called in the novel for the sake of continuity, but at one point in the story he refers to himself by another one of his names. The majority of the time he’s called Rais, but in his thoughts, he calls himself Rashad.  Before you reach this point and give me the look, know that it wasn’t an accident.

This was a very interesting thing for me to write. Since IOTW is in first person, I never had the chance to go this far into my villain’s point of view prior to this. Though he’s changed slightly between this time and the novel, it was nice to be able to get a feel for his character. 

The prompt I chose:

  • Write about when your antagonist moved into his place of current residence.


Nothing but darkness as far as Rais could see. Slowly, he lifted himself upon bleeding hands, raising himself onto his knees, though nothing was beneath him to support his weight.

“No,” he whispered, the word punctuated by his heartbeat thudding in his ears. “No, it didn’t happen. It. Didn’t.”

Not even an echo drifted back to him. He remained completely and entirely alone.

His thoughts chased themselves around in his head, none quite becoming comprehensible, all of them filled with the desperation he tried to push back within himself.

…it should have worked…

   … he must have been dying…

    …not wrong… I could not have been…


   Carefully, Rais climbed to his feet, allowing his eyes to slide shut so they would not continue straining to see. He knew there would be no light. His whole body screamed pain at him and he could feel the damp of blood and sweat, but he remained on his feet. Rais inhaled slowly through his nose and let it out through his mouth, shaping his face into the smile he had become so used to wearing.

He could do this. He knew he could manage, if only he could stay calm.

If time had been even vaguely measurable, standing there for a long moment might perhaps have worked. As it was, Rais was more aware of the lack of time than of the steady breathing in-breathing-out pattern, and abruptly he collapsed onto his knees again, beating at nothing with his fists as the desperation welled up inside of himself.

“No!” He shouted. “No, I did not fail!”

The silence did not even have the decency to answer as it would have in a world.

Slowly, Rais allowed himself to sink down lower onto the ground. His heart slammed against his ribcage and the silence magnified the sound of his breathing until it seemed almost deafening.

Light. Rais scrambled to his feet, his entire body shaking. He needed light.

Peeling his eyelids open, he stared out into the complete darkness surrounding him. He could see nothing, no matter how hard his eyes strained.

You must know how to do this, he said, mentally adopting his slightly patronizing tone to speak to himself. Think, Rashad.

  Rais closed his eyes again, balling his hands into fists and ignoring the pain that shot up his arms. Light danced across the inside of his eyelids, teasing him with it’s lack of existence. Slowly the correct words came to his mind, and though it made his gut twist further into a knot, he whispered them.

“In case you ever have to form a half-world,” he had been taught. “This is how you go about it. One step at a time, eh? Keep it easy, though. No cementing. Keep it changeable. Your world, eh? Your commands oughta keep working whenever you give ’em.”

    He could feel the energy draining out of his body, but he kept his eyes squeezed shut, forcing himself to continue. It would work—it had to.

They thought they could imprison him. Idiots—he could do this. He could bend the prison to his own will.

Light flashed through his closed eyelids, staining them red as blood. He opened his eyes, gasping for breath as he saw the sun, the complete, glorious desert sun, beginning to rise on the horizon.

Perhaps it was fake—he didn’t know for sure, but he could see light. It was all that mattered.

Rais collapsed, the entirety of his energy spent, but he did not close his eyes; he remained staring up into the sun that belonged in the early morning desert sky. It already gave off enough heat to bake anything that happened to fall beneath the rays of light, but Rais did not care.

“You did not succeed,” he whispered, his lips scarcely moving. “I will not stay here. I will save it.”

He closed his eyes, letting the light that shone from nothing and onto nothing wash over him, his lips now moving soundlessly as he let the exhaustion and the effects of the injuries take over. “You cannot stop me from saving the desert.”




Apples and Antagonists

Apples and Antagonists

Picture an apple.

‘Tis red, yes? Red, fairly constant in color, fairly normal in size and definitely normal in shape.

Congratulations. You’ve just pictured a stereotype. While sometimes quite lovely, stereotypes not only lack variation; they lack personality. Of course, for apples, this isn’t much of a problem. When it comes to things we’re going to eat, personality is not high on the qualifications list.

When it comes to antagonists, though, personality makes it pretty high. And yet, oftentimes, I see the same thing; just like apples, people seem to think that, because antagonists all serve the same purpose, they must be the same. Apples come in different colors, with spots or scratches, in weird shapes, huge, tiny, and in just about every form of variation that can occur within the same fruit; there are even some blue apples. Antagonists, being (most often) sentient creatures, come in an even greater variety.

If we take the time to make it so.

Of all the characters in the world, villains are probably the most stereotyped. They come in clichés, the evil emperor without a care for the lives of the people, the black-haired, black-clad, black-mustached, black-caped evil overlords with devious plans to take over the world equipped by their maniacal laugh. (Admittedly, the last bit  is a bit of an exaggeration when it comes to Young Adult novels these days, but you get the idea.)

And then, there is the other side, the ones that are too sympathetic; the sob-story villains who, of course, couldn’t use their human nature and automatically responded by turning evilbut they couldn’t help themselves! The tragedy in their back-story made them do it!

The idea is to find balance between these two sides. Sentient creatures (be they human or otherwise) have the ability to refuse evil, so whether or not they had a terrible back story, it is their choice in the end. In the end, assuming that your antagonist is a villain, your villain has decided to do something that’s wrong (whether they’ve justified it in their head or not), and it was their choice, not one made for them; they are entirely responsible for what they’ve done. Mind control, by the way, is an entirely different matter, leaving the role of antagonist up to whoever is doing the controlling. Since your villain has decided to be the evil fellow, he must automatically turn into a cape-swirling evildoer, yes? I’m afraid it’s not that simple. Your villain is neither entirely innocent of all the crimes brought against him because of what’s going onnor is he automatically an entirely evil fellow without a shred of human-ness within him.

He remains a person. Yes, perhaps an evil person, but a person nonetheless. This, my dear readers, is where it gets complicated. How are we to make our villains not only evil people with a certain amount of danger about them, but also make them people?

In the end, it’s fairly simple. Aside from the fact that one is evil and the other is good, villains and heroes are not all that different. The differences between them are slightly enormous, but when it comes down to it, some villains would make the best heroes if they changed what they were fighting for.

Being a supervillain requires a certain degree of insanity, devotion, and determination. Without it, they would never achieve the status as antagonist in a novel. Saving the world also requires those ingredients.

I have a slightly bizarre mix of villains. In IOTW, my villain is a calm, in control man with a very expressive smile and a whole world of hopes for the goal that he sincerely believes is right. In another story, I have a villain who acts more hero than villain; his passion, his energy, his devotion brings a whole group of people to him. He could be seen bravely leading the charge at the front of his men, moving among his men before the battle to encourage them, remembering even the most insignificant of them. Except for the slight fact that he’s a murderer and his purpose is only for himself, he could be the ideal hero-King.

In both, I see character traits that someone could find in a hero. In both, I see a villain very clearly, but at the same time, there’s a person.

Having your villain be a person is the real goal. Since there’s no 3-2-1 step guide to creating people, there’s also not one for creating villains. The one thing that I’ve found helpful to remember? Villains are people. They have personalities and quirks, things they value and lines they won’t cross, just like the heroes do. At the same time, they’re villains. They’re people who don’t understand or don’t care for the sanctity of life, who are more willing to sacrifice other people than themselves, whether for themselves or for something that they believe is right.

They all serve the same purpose: conflict, but they’re not the same. They’re apples, all different, with huge variety, not stereotypical.

So let your villain be a person. Let him turn blue or green or whatever color he wants to be; let him be flecked with brown specks or smooth entirely around. Make him into a person, an introvert who doesn’t like introducing himself or a speaker who can capture the attention of hundreds of people at a time. He’ll still be an antagonist, just as an apple will be an apple. But this time, he will neither be stereotypical nor plastic. He’ll be a villaina real villain.

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge: Antagonist

Get to Know Your Characters Challenge


Good afternoon, folks. Today is the day that Get to Know Your Characters returns; hopefully with a better picture this time, and a more official way of doing things.

From this point on, Get To Know Your Characters has turned tri-monthly. Every three months, on the first Tuesday of the month, bloggers are challenged to write something about the specified character type from their novels (whether works-in-progress or finished) and post it on their blogs. The point of the challenge is to help authors learn more about their characters through writing prose, exploring situations in character’s past with their pen (or keyboard).

Those participating in the challenge write up their bit of writing, post it on their blogs (or in the comment section of this post, if they don’t have a blog or would prefer to not post it on their blogs) on or before October 16  (preferably before, but life can be life, so it’s best to have a “or”) and send me the link to their posts. Sixteen days after the challenge was issued, the blog post will go up here with my piece of writing and with a link to the post of every person participating.

The character-type for this month: Antagonist.

The way of doing things: Pick a topic from this list and write something 100 words or more and post it on your blog.  (Feel free to mix and mash topics, or do more than one, if you wish!)

  • Your antagonist is between three and ten. Write something that represents their life at that point.
  • Write about a year before the start of your novel.
  • Write about the first time your villain killed or ordered the death of someone (bonus points if you focus on how it made them feel).
  • Your antagonist and his/her best friend, brother or sister, or second-in-command are talking about something completely random of your choice, within the past year.
  • Write about when your antagonist moved into his place of current residence (then again, maybe I’m the only one interested in seeing the villain moving into his lair).

BONUS: Write about the day or night before your antagonist was born. It’s slightly random, but sometimes it’s interesting to explore what was going on at that time.

The Challenge closes on October 16, so you must have your piece of writing posted and the link sent to me by or before that date. You an email the link to me or post it in the comments here.  (If you do decide to post it on that date, it’s best if you get it to me before noon, that way I can be sure to have it when I post the blog post.)

Over the next sixteen days, I look forward to being able to meet your antagonists.



Character Interview: Rouyn

Happy Tuesday, readers. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Rouyn, from Victoria Grace Howell’s novel-in-progress, Starbloods.

A wingless boy, outcast in a society of winged sylphs, dreams of leaving their secluded mountain to explore the world beyond–a world he knows only from stories and tales. His plans are expedited when it is discovered that he is not fully human but a rare half-star, and hunted by a cult who seeks to stop his future child from ever being born.

Character Interview - Rouyn

Hello, Rouyn, and welcome to Red Lettering! It’s an honor to have you here. To start with, could you tell us a bit about yourself? 

Rouyn: Hello. It is good to be here. Let’s see a little bit about myself … *rubs chin* I am sixteen reigns of moons, I am the only human in the colony of sylphs I live in and I am blood-bonded with a pegasus.

It’s nice to meet you! Ah, only sixteen years old? I think you’re right around the age of most of my readers. You bonded with a Pegasus, you say… Could you tell us about her? How does the whole bonding thing work?

Rouyn: Her name is Landora. I blood-bonded with her when I was ten. Our bloods have to have touched and our bond had to be meant to be. She was attacked by werewolves as a filly and I saved her. I had a cut on my arm and I was trying to stop the bleeding from her wound, then we bonded.

Wow. That must have been… awkward, having not been planning it. Do you have a single goal in your life—the one thing that you’re constantly working towards?

Rouyn: I want to leave the mountain one day. My parents said that I would when I got older, but I train with Landora so I can be strong for lots of adventuring. *grins*

Ah, adventuring is always fun. You mentioned your parents… What’s your relationship with your family?

Rouyn: I have my mother whom I call naima and my father whom I call adoth then my brother Meldar. I don’t think Adoth likes that I’m human. He’s never cared for me much. I care not for sylph things. I’m terrible at everything. I cannot hear birds, I cannot fly without Landora and I do not want a peaceful, boring existence as they do.

I imagine that it would be strange for your father, since he wouldn’t understand you, just as you don’t understand them. In your world, there are so many different kinds of creatures…Is it strange to have so many different types of sentient beings?

Rouyn: I am used to it. Though I desire to see more creatures. I would really like to see dragons and a gryphon and a roc.

Of course, you would pick some of the most dangerous of the creatures. What do you think of yourself?

Rouyn: I am not sure I entirely understand the question. I suppose I like myself.

You understood it pretty well, I think. Most of us are afraid of something… What are you afraid of?

Rouyn: I am afraid of living on the mountain for the rest of my life. I want my life to be exciting not dull.

You’re gonna shake the dust of that mountain off your feet and see the world? …Yeah, sorry. That’s a reference you probably won’t catch. When you were young, did you have a favorite toy you loved, or a game that you liked to play? Why did you enjoy it so much?

Rouyn: I made a sword out of sticks as a child. It is the closest I’ve gotten to holding a real sword. I want to own a real one in the future. Sylphs don’t make those sort of weapons. We have bows, arrows and clay knives.

I imagine that you will own one if you do end up going on an adventure, though whether you’re going to like it or not, who can say? Some people hate the things once they’ve used them. When you’re tired—not sleepy, but tired—where do you go to recharge? 

Rouyn: There is a shelter I built for Landora in the woods as a child. I like to go there.

That sounds very lovely. Thank you for coming today… I suppose I should let you get back home now. I look forward to hearing how your adventures turn out.

Victoria Grace Howell is an artist and aspiring author of speculative fiction. She received Teen Writer of the Year in 2014 at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, a conference she’s been attending since 2010. She is also a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she’s not writing, she enjoys drawing her characters, playing the piano, and practicing Kung Fu.

You can find out more about Victoria and her writing on her blog,  FacebookPinterestTwitter and DeviantArt.

Character Interview: Elric

Happy Tuesday, readers. Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to yourself Prince Elric, main character of Bethany Baldwin’s currently-in-the-editing stage novel, The Prince’s Quest. 

Living as Crown Prince of Linaeus isn’t so bad. Elric can live with the whispers behind his back, and the obvious dislike the servants hold for him. But, without warning, his situation changes when King Rath decides to test his son’s loyalty, and see if he really can be a great king one day.

Elric is on a quest, a quest he would rather avoid. Someone in the small village of Redge is publishing false information about the king. It’s Elric’s job to find the perpetrator and bring him- and anyone involved- to justice.
The prince is plunged into a moral dilemma as he evades bandits intent on his capture, searches for truth, and meets a girl who could change his view on everything.
Life is filled with choices. The problem is, making the right one.

Character Interview - Elric

Hello, Elric (Or should I call you Your Highness?), and welcome to Red Lettering! It’s an honor to have you here. To start with, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Elric: Of course. I enjoy reading. I read all the time. I also like to stroll in the garden and visit my mother. I have a younger brother. I had an older one, but he died many years ago. My father is the king of Linaeus, which makes me Crown Prince, I suppose.

Reading is always good. That makes you the Crown Prince… You suppose? From what I can tell, if your father is the king and you are the oldest child in the family… at the time, you’re the Crown Prince. Speaking of your father… What’s your relationship with your him? (Don’t worry. This is a secret revolutionary pamphlet that will only be passed around rebels. Your father will never see your answer. No, not for real. Don’t give me that look. Your father won’t see it, though.)

Elric: I still don’t know about the rebels. But if it won’t be found out… My father and I have a… strained relationship at best. I feel… I know that I do not measure up to his expectations. He has been known to publicly humiliate me if it is his fancy. So, my relationship with my father? There really isn’t one.

I’m sorry. That must be hard, especially since you’re the royal family and most everything would be public, even when it wasn’t intended to be so. Who do you remember looking up to when you were a little child?

Elric: When I was a child things were different. My father was different. I remember looking at him in wonder. He was hero. He was the king. He was amazing.

Wow. The change, I imagine, would be very strange. I wonder if your father changed, not only in your eyes, but in actuality, because of the death of your older brother? But, we should move on. Who would you die to save?

Elric: This is not an easy question. No one wants to ponder death, but if I were faced with it I would hope to save my mother and her unborn child. Perhaps there are others.

A good choice. Though, I wonder if I could name a few others… *clears throat* Anyway. We’ll come to that later. As a flip-side to the previous question, is there anyone you would die to kill?

Elric: I find killing a heavier matter than death. There is no one I would want to kill purposefully. I hope that anyone can change.

I think you’re on the right track. What was a dream you had as a child, and how has that changed now?

Elric: When I was a child I was interested in knighthood. Swords and horses and fighting seemed interesting. But things change. A trip to the library, and witnessing a foal’s birth changed me. If I could have a dream that is not the one set before me, I would like to teach, or be a physician.

Something of a drastic change,that, though not a bad one. I think I could imagine you as a physician. Could you tell us about the girl you met—Anya?

Elric: Anya. She is a lovely girl. I haven’t met lovelier. And I don’t mean her looks. She is pretty to look at, yes, but there is something special about her that seems to light her up. She glows. She is kind, and makes me feel good inside, as if all the bad things disappear when she is nearby. But that is perhaps too much information. She is merely the daughter of the owner of Two Moons, an Inn.

*clears throat* Merely the daughter of the owner of an inn. Right. I can definitely see how the “merely” belongs in your statement about her, daughter of an inn owner or no. In fact, I do think she might make it to the list of people you would die for. Okay, last question… Do you have a favorite story?

Elric: I’m not certain if you mean favorite story from my life, or favorite story that I’ve read. My favorite story to read is The Captive Song. It is the story of a beautiful girl who is turned into a bird so that she will always sing. But with true love, she becomes human again. I just find it to be such a lovely tale. As far as favorite personal stories go… I cannot tell. It would have to be the night my horse was born. I happened to be near the stables, and heard the news that a foal was being birthed. So I arrived in time to see the miracle take place, and Silver and I have been companions ever since. (Silver is my stallion.

Elric: Thank you for having me today.

The Captive Song sounds like a wonderful story. Maybe if I’m ever in the area, I’ll stop by the palace library…Assuming your father wouldn’t mind, of course. Oh, seeing Silver born must have been amazing. No, no…Thank you for coming! It was a pleasure to have you here.


Bethany Baldwin is an eighteen-year-old  writer working on several novels, and enjoying the life God gave her. The youngest of five siblings, she has plenty of imagination to apply to her writing, and adds to her imagination by reading great books. When not writing or editing, she can be found in the theater, acting with Characterworks, singing and teaching children at church, spending time with friends, poking around the internet, and dreaming big things. Find her online at her blog or like her book page on Facebook, or even follow her on Twitter. Jeremiah 29:11


Character Interview: Lyric Valvo

Happy Tuesday, readers! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Lyric Valvo, from Alea Harpers trilogy-in-progress, “Mind Wars.”

“It doesn’t matter. Wherever you want. You have about a million to choose from,” I laughed lightheartedly. Suddenly, my vision blurred and spots flew before my eyes. The world began to spin. Was this what vertigo feels like? My heart pounded. Was I dying? I struggled to take a breath and my knees buckled. My eyes closed and my head never hit the floor of the stadium.

When Lyric Valvo wakes up in a strange forest that she doesn’t recognize (more due to the fact that she has never seen a forest), she and her best friend Finn are mistaken for runaway soldiers and treated harshly. How did she get to where ever she is? Are the fabled Mind Wars real? In this exciting retelling of the classic fairytale, “Sleeping Beauty”, you will encounter adventure, thrilling sword fights, mystery, and friendship.

“Lyric Valvo,” by Alea Harper.


Hello, Lyric, and welcome to Red Lettering! It’s an honor to have you here today. To start with, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Lyric: Thank you so much for asking me! Usually I wouldn’t accept something like this, I’m more of an introvert, but I absolutely love your blog and I just couldn’t say no! Well…umm…where do I start? Umm…I’m 16 years old. My favorite thing to do is spend time with my best friend, Finn. When I still lived in The Building, I enjoyed helping out Mom and Dad…well…I guess I can’t call them that now…in their jewelry store. I get scared very easily. *Fidgets nervously* After my…umm…adventures, I have conquered some of that.

You love my blog? Wow… I have readers in more than one world! My stat page won’t show when I get visitors from other worlds, so I’m very excited to hear that. But, right. We should stay on track.  It’s nice to meet you!  Where did you grow up? What was it like?

Lyric: I grew up in a city called, The Building. It was just that: a very tall skyscraper. The entire city was inside it and no one went in or out. It really was a pleasant place to grow up being very safe, and it just had a nice atmosphere.

That sounds lovely. I suppose with so many people in the same place, you would know many of them…  Who would you consider a hero?
Lyric: I would definitely consider Finn, my best friend, a hero. He has saved my life numerous times and really helped me emotionally. But, if you asked him if he thought he was a hero, he would say no in a heartbeat.

Most heroes would say that if you asked them… I think it’s a part of the job description. If you could change one thing in your past, what would you change?

Lyric: Hmm…that’s a hard one. I guess that I would change my parents sending me away to live with my adoptive parents. They could have protected me well enough…right?

I can’t say whether or not they could have… I don’t know either your parents or your adoptive parents, but if your parents wanted to protect you, I would say trust them on this one. Did you have any favorite story as a child?

Lyric: Well, I never did like stories where people died. Those gave me nightmares. And ones with scary beings in them. *shivers* So, my favorites were probably the ones that I learned in history. There was no mind control or any of that. *Smiles, thinking about fond memories*

I can agree with you on that… Though, I do think that sometimes, scary stories might teach us how to act when we get scared. What is your goal in life? What do you strive for?
Lyric: I-I don’t know. *Looks down and blushes* Honestly, that is something that I have…err…am struggling with. The majority of the people of Sylvae, my real parents’ country, believe in something they call God. They say that He is what, and who, they live for. I guess I’m just not sure I believe that…at least right now.

I understand. I hope you find what’s true. I suppose you kind of already answered this question, when you mentioned dying and mind control in connection with stories, but… What do you fear?
Lyric: Death. I am terrified of dying and what happens after…well, I guess what scares me is the unknown of what happens after. But, I am also afraid of so many other things…

Death… That’s something that many people are afraid of, though some much more than others. You probably wouldn’t really be able to trust what I could say, so I’ll just tell you to talk to some of the people who believe in God about death. There’s no uncertainty about dying when it comes to those who believe in God.

Thank you so much for being here today; I really appreciate that you took the time to come, and I look forward to hearing about your adventures in more detail.


Alea Harper is a Christian writer (and hopes to one day be an author). She loves to write (obviously), make movies, serve others, and tell people about Jesus! Almost every day, she is on some adventure; whether its joining the Fellowship and defeating Sauron in “The Lord of the Rings” by J.R.R. Tolkien, running from Emporer Daicen in “Resistance” by Jaye L. Knight, or going on her own adventure that she writes, something exciting is always happening! You can read more about Alea and her writing at her blog:

Get To Know Your Characters Challenge – Protagonist

Happy Tuesday, readers. For those of you concerned that this post signals the end of all character interviews on Red Lettering, don’t worry. We’ll resume the normal posting schedule with character interviews two weeks from today.

Today, though, seemed like a good day to test-run an idea of mine. Somehow, it seemed fitting to do it on a character interview day, not only because everybody gets excited about character interviews and I hope to have people look at this, but because in a way, I get to do something similar to interviewing all of your characters.


Get to know your characters challenge protagonistEven though tags and challenges abound in the blogging community, very few focus on what we writers do best: write. Occasionally, people will do character and writing-related tags, but those are few and far between. And so, I thought, what if there was a challenge to help writers develop their writing skills while learning more about their characters?

What if there was a challenge on someone’s blog where people would be challenged to pick a couple of options from a list, and write about their protagonist’s past?

Here’s How it Works

If you’re willing to participate, pick one or more challenges from the list below and post your completed snippet-type stories about your protagonists on your blog this coming Monday (July 28). Steal the picture and leave a link back here, and leave a comment on this post sometime between now and Sunday with the link to your blog. I’ll include a list of all participating blogs with links when I post my challenge snippets on Monday.


The List

  • Write  about your protagonist from when he or she was between three and ten. Write something short that represents how their life was that point.
  • Write about your protagonist celebrating a major holiday, such as Christmas or New Year’s Day.
  • Write about a major turning point in your character’s life: the death of a loved one, a point where they find out a secret that changes their life, ect.
  • Write about a year before the adventure started.
  • Write about interaction with a childhood friend–while in childhood, or what would happen when the two met again after several years of not seeing each other.
  • Write about when your character first interacted with your villain. (This for those who have already met their villains.)

Interested? Want to get to know your protagonist better and exercise your writing muscles? Want to absolutely make my day? I’d absolutely love to have you participate. The longer the list of participating blogs posted on Monday, the better.

Note: Those of you who don’t have blogs, but would like to participate anyway, can leave their challenge snippets in the comments on this post or the other.

Character Interview: Princess Lauraine Kodie

Happy Tuesday, readers! Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Princess Lauraine Kodie, from Rayleigh Gray’s  novel-in-progress, A Queen is Knighted.


Princess Lauraine Kodie has a life of privilege, balls hosted in her honor, servants at her beck and call, and a family she loves with all her heart. But something mysterious begins to stir when her brother returns from her uncle’s kingdom and acts unlike himself. Then, on the eve of her 15th birthday, the castle is attacked and burned to the ground, her parents killed, and her brother disappears. 
She is taken against her will by a strange-handsome- man outside of Tunock and told what she never dreamt she would hear; she is the only one who can save Tunock from the danger her uncle brings, and she must to it as a man. 
Can Kodie save her kingdom? Or will she give up the kingdom, and everyone in it, to save her brother? 

Hello, Kodie! Welcome to Red Lettering. I’m honored that you would take the time to be here, especially with everything else going on over there. Could you tell us a bit about yourself? 

Lauraine Kodie: No problem! Honestly, I embrace the chance to get away from the stinky camp in Sundaland Canyon, only, Wilhelm and James both insisted on escorting me just in case of an ambush, but I don’t mind too much *sly grin*. As for telling you about myself, I suppose that I could tell you some things, but I don’t care to get too personal.*attempted nonchalance* First off you should know that I, Princess Lauraine, has a brother of whom I don’t know is even worthy of that title. Prince Zachary II is three years older than I and he has taught me everything I know, for we have always been close *heavy sigh and looks to the ground*, that is until now.

 Aah. Well, if we’re being completely honest, I wasn’t expecting you to tell who you really were. I knew, but I certainly wasn’t expecting it. Don’t worry, though; your secret will not get out to those who would see it used against you. What’s the first thing you can remember?

 Lauraine Kodie: Like ever? I don’t know….*deep thought* I have often had dreams of two young children sword fighting with wooden swords. Both children, a little boy and a little girl, wore huge smiles on their faces as they danced around a courtyard that looked very similar to our courtyard. I once told my mother about them *sad expression* when she was alive. *pause, then quickly regaining composure* She told me that my dream reminded her of the time my brother and I had received two wooden swords and played with them for weeks on-end. So, that might be a memory or that might be a vision of my future children, I know not which.

Dreams often carry old memories, though a lot of the time they’re mixed with odd things that never happened. Maybe it’s a memory, but maybe it’s something else.  I heard that your castle was attacked and burned to the ground. The King and Queen are known to be dead, but the Prince and you haven’t been heard from by the citizens. I know it might be difficult to answer this question, since it’s your home that’s under attack, but what do you think of the things going on in your country? 

Lauraine Kodie: *heavy sigh* I honestly do not know what I think. Some people say that it is my uncle we are to fear, but others say it is their beloved prince, my brother, Zachary who is behind the attacks. And still there are others who believe the two are conspiring for my uncle to be king and my brother to have the king’s daughter’s hand in marriage. My trainer, Tupac, believes the latter. I have always valued everything Tupac says, but I just don’t know about his theory, it seems so unlike Zach.

 I hardly know anything about what’s going on there, but… You know your brother. I can’t promise that he’s not against you, and really, I shouldn’t even suggest it, but if you know who he is, don’t jump to conclusions about what he may have done. Keep believing in him until you know for sure… After all, that’s what sisters do. I know this might be a bit of an awkward question, and a sticky one, but… When do you believe it would be okay to tell a lie, or do you think it would be wrong all the time? 

Lauraine Kodie: *startled expression* I…..I….I honestly never thought about it. I mean, I would think it to be okay if you lied to protect an innocent person from a punishment they didn’t deserve, or from a country who is getting attacked….*uncomfortable squirming*

I see. I don’t know what you would consider yourself—adult or child—but… When you were small, what did you think you would be when you grew up? What were your dreams?

 Lauraine Kodie: *smile* I still like to consider myself a child, for I have so many childish dreams, but after everything I have been through in the past six months, I believe I have grown up enough to be called an adult. As for my childish dreams; when I was but a young girl, I used to dream of becoming a real knight, which is why I was always with my brother when he trained. But after I met Wilhelm *dreamy expression* and he sought permission to court me, well I only dream of the future we have together. Now, I am a knight and there is still a small possibility that Wilhelm and I will have a happily-ever-after story, as long as I stay alive.

Happily-ever-afters are the best types of stories–especially when you put them together with knights. When you have spare time, what do you do with it? (Besides coming to answer awkward questions here, of course. Don’t worry; the rest will be normal. Normal enough, anyway.) 

Lauraine Kodie: Training with the sword takes up quite a lot of my time and honestly I don’t consider that a pleasantry now that my life depends on how well I can use a sword. But, on rare occasions, I enjoy riding the horse that my fellow knight, James, gave to me. He is the most beautiful horse you have ever seen and rides like a cloud!

I can certainly imagine how your life depending on it would change things. I would think a cloud would get you wet if you rode it… Just out of curiosity, does the horse do that? Actually, sorry. I should probably keep on track here… Do you have a favorite season? 

Lauraine Kodie: I would have said winter if I were answering as the spoiled Princess Lauraine, for skiing across the frozen lake is one of her favorite past-times. But now that I am Sir Cody, who lives in makeshift tents in the out-of-doors, I very much dread the upcoming winter months and I am miserable in these summer months. So, my favorite season is either Spring or Autumn, depending on which has more pleasant days. 

No favorite weather; just lack-of-weather being your favorite? Certainly makes sense, that. Who would you die for? 

Lauraine Kodie: *stunned* Well, my brother would have been the answer before all of these disastrous things happened, but there is still that possibility that he was the one who killed my parents and burned our castle. And Tupac believes he is going to attempt to kill me so…*tears swelling up in eyes, looks up at the pause, then begins sobbing* I don’t know, I just don’t know. I have never had anyone as close to me as my brother and now he is my enemy? *buries face in hands and continues to cry*

Ah. That makes sense. Be strong, Kodie. Don’t give up. I should probably let you get back so… last question—Did you like fairytales when you were growing up? What would make a fairytale, or whatever your favorite type of story was, a favorite?

 Lauraine Kodie: I have never truly liked fairy-tales, because they were never real. A story that is my favorite will always have really happened. 

That makes sense. Thank you for being here, Kodie… It was an honor to get to speak to you. I hope that the rest of your journey is well.
You can read the first 1000 words of Princess Lauraine Kodie’s story here.

Rayleigh Gray is a 16 year old blogger that absolutely loves to read, write, research, and car-watch! She has a passion to proclaim the Creation of this world and do so with my writing. She hopes to become a journalist when she graduates high school and would also like to write a few books. She is home-schooled, the eldest of 6, a country-girl that likes to ride four-wheelers, and loves to sew. She blogs at


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