Tuesday, February 09, 2010

J A Saare's guest Blog. Getting Into Character

First and foremost, thank you for having me, Rowena.  It’s great to be on the Space Snark blog!

When I received your blog topic of interest, How I research and get into character, the answer didn’t come as readily as I anticipated.  Truth be told, I always allow the muse control and don’t over think the research.  With Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between, the pieces fell into place.  Aside from learning the geography of New York (props to my ever wonderful friend, Ty, who guided me through the mean streets on many a frustrating night) and checking into a couple of things like muti and necromancy, there wasn’t a whole lot involved in the process.
Then, my writing took a drastic turn.
After I wrapped up Dead, I began plotting a paranormal series of books featuring various creatures, races, and realms. I wanted something unique, dark, and appealing, but also something people would recognize and think, “Oh yeah, I know that!” Vampires, werewolves, and shifters have been done.  That meant I had to create my own race of beings.  After a lengthy consideration, I decided it was time to create my own brand of shifter – Draigens: half-men, half-dragons who patrolled the realms to maintain the balance between good and evil.  However, the idea wasn’t enough.  I needed more; fuel for the fire, if you will. 
This resulted in an extended journey into Greek Mythology, heaven and hell, and various other places to stockpile nuggets of wisdom which were stored away until needed.  When I had all of my bases loaded, I sat down and started writing.  I was incredibly excited, and had the first chapter finished in record time.  In my excitement, I dove into chapter two.  As I did, a nagging sensation told me something wasn’t quite right.  Sure, the story was going great and I was very excited, but something was noticeably missing.   Pushing forward, I continued to battle an invisible villain, unaware of why I couldn’t get a grip, focus, and write. 

When the realization hit midway into chapter three, it was staggering.  All of my work up to this point had been a first person narrative, but in writing romance, the hero had to be heard.  There was no way around it. I rebelled against it, tried to make it work, but try as I might, it just wasn’t possible.  People prefer third person romances to first person narratives for a reason.  They want to experience the tension from all sides, including the hero’s perspective. 

Getting inside the mind of one character is always easiest.  While you think you know (and more than likely, you do know) the other characters just as well, everything is always altered by the perception of the eyes which guide you.  Allowing all of the characters a venue to speak is another thing entirely, and that meant I had to rethink my strategy. 

With this in mind, I turned to my favorite weapon in the writer’s arsenal – my trusty composition pads.  I already had one stocked full of laws, races, and a small timeline (as it is intended to be a continuing series), so adding a few more for the characters wasn’t that difficult.  I started with the basics – physical descriptions, likes and dislikes, character motivations, etc.  I didn’t delve too deeply, but when something came along, I’d add it to the mix.  Some friends gave advice, all of which was good (but I did not necessarily employ): Do interviews with the characters.  Have them interview you.  Sit down and write out what a day out with the character would be like.  Write a short story involving an event in their past which doesn’t appear in the book. 

Armed once more, I began the tedious task of starting anew, and let me tell you, it was tough!  My brain kept shifting to a first person narrative and, as a result, the MS took much longer to write.   But just when I was ready to cave and say to hay with it, I settled in, found my bearings, and got comfortable.  It took a lot of time, but the end result was more than worth it, and something I was incredibly proud of. 

Strangely enough, I seem to prefer a third person narrative now.  I enjoy getting to know the hero, the secondary characters, and the motivations that drive them.  In giving myself time to become acquainted, it adds to the worldbuilding for future novels, and aids me in deciding where I want to go and how I want to get there.  That’s not to say I won’t write first person any longer, as nothing excites me more than a first person narrative in a dark urban fantasy.   However, when it comes to erotica or romance, it’s pretty much a given.

I’m curious about everyone else out there.  Do you write in both narratives?  Was the transition easy or difficult?  And most importantly, how did it affect your research as a result?

Happy Reading!
Jaime AKA J.A. Saare

Excerpt from Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between:

My shoulders drooped in defeat. Of all the shitty luck.
The only way my life could get worse is if I got my throat ripped out.  Coincidentally, I was due to leave my place of employment and enter into a darkened alley to meet up with a vampire. So the odds weren’t stacked in my favor. Not at all.
My boots squeaked on the linoleum as I strode past the coat rack, walked down the hall, and entered the narrow concrete hallway. The big steel door at the end distorted, appearing too close and then too far, invoking images of The Shining. I finally reached it and limply grasped the knob.
I stood there, fingers loose and flaccid. Once I turned the knob, I was sealing my fate. My pride wouldn’t stand for beating on the door and screaming like a pansy to be allowed back inside. I exerted my backbone, grasped the knob, and twisted. The door opened with a protest of metal against metal.
I scanned the area quickly and then sagged in relief. The alley was empty. Thank you God, hallelujah! The door slammed shut behind me as I rushed down the narrow street. I was dodging a bullet, and I knew it.
The moon wasn’t out but the streetlights lit the way decently enough, the circular swells of white shining bright against the darkened concrete. The air was slightly chilly, sending prickles along my skin. I’d have to break out the jeans and sweaters soon.
I hooked a right, keeping my ecstatic pace, until I glanced up.
Disco was propped casually against the wall, his broad back braced against the red bricks. He was standing beneath a nearby street light that shone off his hair, the pale honey blond intense. Pulling out a cigarette and lighting up, he waited as I approached. I watched the red tip brighten as he took a long puff, lifted his head, and exhaled slowly into the darkened night.
So much for dodging a bullet.
Some girls get to be prom queen, others get a perfect SAT score, but not me. I was the biggest winner on The Price Is Right, and Johnny just told me to come on down.

To improve your chances of winning a $10 Amazon gift certificate, comment on this guest post by J A Saare, and also on all her other guest posts on this brief tour.

The tour dates and contest information can be found here: 


Rowena Cherry said...

Thank you for visiting. J A Saare.

How do you explain the attraction of characters who are "Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between" to your great aunts and grandmothers?

Debbie Alferio said...


I actually write my novels in both narratives. I have a rather unique writing style (some have compared to the way James Patterson wrote the "Women's Murder Club" series) and I am careful not to switch POV's within a scene, etc. My books have won awards as well as great reviews so far, so I guess I'm doing something right!

As for getting into character, I feel that is so important. Your readers appreciate and enjoy your work a lot more when you do your research and make everything more realistic. Thanks for sharing with us!

J.A. Saare said...


I can't speak for my aunts who have passed away. However, my Grandmother was the person who introduced me to horror, so I'm certain she already gets the attraction.

We live in Alabama, a state enriched with ghostly history. In fact, you can take haunted tours in Downtown Huntsville on the weekends if you are so inclined.

As for my attraction to the Dead, Undead, or Somewhere in Between. My characters are people with flaws, insecurities, and possess their own unique quirks. That has always been the primary attraction for me when it comes to reading any sort of material, ranging from romance to horror -- the connection.


J.A. Saare said...


I'm glad to hear your writing is going so well! Congrats on your reviews and awards! I wish you many, many more in the future. That is fantastic.

Thanks for stopping by.


Wendi Zwaduk said...

Hiya Jaime! You know I'd stop by.

Hmmmm.... getting into character? Hee hee, since I've been experimenting with that, I figured I'd want to be someone who does things I'd never try--you know that whole getting out of yourself.

I plan on getting to DUorSiB here within the next couple hours since... oy, we have MORE snow!

Great post, hon!

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Wendi ;-)

Always a pleasure to see your smiling face.

Let me know how your writing goes! I'm very excited about your newest project!


Jacqueline Paige said...

Hey, J.A.

I can't wait to read this one!

I like to see inside more than one character while writing/reading so I prefer third person.

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Jacq!

I'm so excited to see you! How is your writing coming along?

Congrats on your recent release, by the way. I can't wait to read From A Dream.


Sarah Simas said...

HI J.A and Rowena!

I enjoyed your post, JA. It was great getting to know your processes. I tend to write in third person. I haven't tried first person yet, but haven't ruled it out for future works.

Loved the excerpt!

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Sarah! I'm glad you enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for stopping by.

I am always fascinated by the process of others. Out of curiosity, have you ever tried to write something in a first person narrative? I would love to know how the transition was for you.


Madelyn Ford said...

Hey Jaime,

I used to write strictly first person in the beginning but I think I was influenced by the fact the vast majority of published works back then were in third person. Now it just comes naturally. And I have so many characters in my head demanding their say, it's hard to write from just one perspective.

As for research, I adore it and could get lost for hours searching the internet. It's a wonder I ever get any writing done. LOL! But when it comes to the writing, my characters and setting are the only two things I am really certain about. I usually have no idea what will happen until it does.

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Madelyn!

Thanks for dropping in. ;-)

I know how much you like to research, and your dedication shows in the quality of your work.

I'm not shocked third person comes easily to you. With all the Grigori clamoring to be heard, how could you possibly choose just one?


Lawfrog said...

I love the excerpt and can't wait to read more. Keep writing JA Saare!

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Frog ;) Fancy seeing you here! Will do, thanks for stopping by!


Shelley Munro said...

I write both ways too. When I start to write, I think about the story and what I hope to achieve. Usually it's easy to choose 1st or 3rd. You know there's no reason why you can't do 1st with two characters - just saying ;)

Alisha Paige said...

Congrats, Jaime! I look forward to reading your book. Sounds yummy!

Alisha Paige

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Shelley and Alisha, thanks for stopping by!

Jaime ;-)

Rowena Cherry said...

J. A. Saare, how's the blog tour experience so far? Where were you yesterday? Where will you be tomorrow?

What was the most interesting topic you were asked to write about (not counting this one)?

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Rowena,

It's been great! I've seen several faces I haven't spoken with in a while, which is always a bonus.

As for tour dates, I was at The Cajun Book Lady's blog yesterday, and tomorrow I'll be visiting My Reading Addiction to answer a few questions.

Regarding the blog topics...I would say the one chosen by the wonderful Marianne Arkins was an interesting surprise. She asked me to share the ways I develop new ideas, and was particularly interested in my decisions to use vampire blood as a drug of choice.

Again, thank you for having me on the blog today. I really appreciate it.

All My Best!

Cari Quinn said...

I'm late, but wanted to stop by. As for me, I like both 3rd and 1st person narratives, thought I've only written a few pages of 1st. That will change soon, however...I love broadening my horizons.

Great topic! Jaime obviously knows what she's doing...her amazing talent proves that. :)

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Cari!!

Thanks for stopping by. I know you've been swamped, but I'm so glad to see you here. And as always, you are far too kind. ;)

I can't wait to hear your 1st person narrative. After Full Disclosure, I know it's going to be good!


RowenaBCherry said...

Hey, J A,

I have a question. Do all comments (apart from yours and mine) on each blog get entered into the drawing at the end of your tour, regardless of whether they are/were posted on Feb 9th or later?

Some people who discovered you later in the tour might want to go back and see your earlier blogs.

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

Goddess Fish Promotions said...


I'll answer your last question... All comments aside from yours and the author's are entered into the drawing for the GC. The more places they comment during the tour, the more entries they get.

Thanks for hosting J.A. :-)

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

And, no... it doesn't matter what date they comment -- as long as it's before the tour ends. Sorry! I hit enter too soon.

booklover0226 said...

I enjoyed both the post and the excerpt. I look forward in reading Dead, Undead or Something In Between.

Tracey D

J.A. Saare said...

Thank you for answering for me Goddess Fish, and thank you Tracey D! I hope you enjoy the story!


Andrea I said...

I enjoyed the interview.

J.A. Saare said...

Hey Andrea,

Thanks for stopping by, I'm glad you enjoyed the blog. ;)


RowenaBCherry said...

Hey, Jaime,

How do you pronounce your name? :-)

J.A. Saare said...

Hi Rowena,

The last? Just like "sorry". ;) Odd, I know.


rowena said...

I meant Jaime. :-) Is it (Jayme) like Jaime Leigh Curtis or High-Me (the Spanish form) or J' Aime (French for I love)?