Friday, April 4, 2014

Five Corners: The Marked Ones by Cathi Shaw

Today, I've invited Cathi Shaw over to talk about how she develops characters. It turns out our process is exactly the same.

Peep Rep: Do hers misbehave and cause as much trouble as yours?

Liza: We'll find that out before the blog is over. Now would you like to know about the prize?

Peep Rep: Yes, please!

Liza: Someone...could be you... is going to win a $50 Gift Card for Amazon or B&N.

Peep Rep: How do I win?

Liza: Just follow the Rafflecopter below. Now lets learn more about how I, opps, Cathi Shaw creates characters:

Character Creation

        Where do characters come from? That’s one of the most common questions I get from readers. If I’m going to be completely honest, I would say I don’t know where they come from – they just emerge.

I’ve been to writer’s workshops where character development worksheets are handed out and the writers fill them in with as many details as possible. The idea is that the worksheets will help you develop a well-rounded character. Those worksheet feel like homework for me and never really work.

So how do I get to know my characters? I write their story. When I first started writing about Kiara, I had no idea who she was. I knew what she looked like – a tall, strong, dark-haired girl who was beautiful – but I didn’t know what her motivation was or how she felt about things or what her favourite pastimes might be. Those details emerged as Five Corners spilled onto the paper.

        So I think I get to know my characters just as I would get to know a new acquaintance or friend: slowly and through spending lots of time with them in different situations. And do they surprise me? Of course they do! Just like a friend might surprise me on occasion.

As much as we think we might know someone, we never really know what’s going on in their heads. I find daydreaming and real dreaming (as in while I'm sleeping) are where my characters emerge the most for me. At least initially. Later as I sit at my computer and the story spills onto the page, I find my characters evolve and take on a life of their own.

So while the character development worksheets might work for you – give them a go to see if they do work – I find really just writing the story is where my characters start to take on a life of their own. They are real people on the page and I am honoured to be able to share their stories with all of you! 

Peep Rep: Are you sure you didn't write that?

Liza: Absolutely. I would have used American English, instead of English English and it would have typos.

Peep Rep: Good point. What book has Cathi brought us today?

Peep Rep: That's an eyecatching cover. Tell me more!

Five Corners: The Marked Ones


Cathi Shaw 

Growing up in a sleepy village untouched by distant wars and political conflicts, it was easy for Thia, Mina and Kiara to forget such horrors existed in the Five Corners. That is until the dead child is found; a child that bears the same strange birthmark that all three sisters possess. A Mark their mother had always told them was unique to the girls.

Kiara’s suspicions grow as their Inn is soon overrun with outsiders from all walks of life. Strangers, soldiers and Elders who all seem to know more about what is happening than the girls do.

After Mina barely survives an attack in the forest, the sisters are faced with a shattering secret their mother has kept from them for years. As danger closes in around them, the sisters are forced from their home and must put their trust in the hands of strangers.  
With more questions than answers, Kiara finds herself separated from everyone she loves and reliant on an Outlander who has spent too much time in army. She doesn’t trust Caedmon but she needs him if she has any hope of being reunited with her sisters and learning what the Mark might mean.

Kiara stared at the small body laid out in the family's tiny kitchen. She didn't know the child but that didn't stop her heart from jerking in her chest as she looked at the perfect little girl lying in the wooden box. She was dressed in what were obviously her best clothes; her dark hair had been carefully combed and braided. She was only six years old.
Kiara felt her own mother watching her closely. She forced her gaze away from the small lifeless form. Brijit murmured softly to the parents and then moved to Kiara's side.

"Come away from here, Kiara," her mother said firmly.

But Kiara couldn't stop herself from looking back at the child, noting how someone had twined a pretty scarf around her neck, concealing the ugly slashes that she knew were hidden beneath the colorful material. The result of a blade taken to vulnerable flesh. This poor girl had had no chance against her assailant.

Brijit tugged on her arm insistently. "There is nothing more for us to do here," she whispered in a hushed undertone. "Let’s go and give the family some peace."

Kiara felt a sudden wave of shame wash over her. She suddenly wondered what she was doing here?

Don’t try to deny it, she told herself vehemently, you know why you’re here.

She had seen the Mark on the child's shoulder. She resisted the urge to rub her own shoulder where an identical Mark was hidden beneath her tunic. It was something she’d believed she only shared with her sisters. But this child proved different.

And there was no question that this child had been assassinated.

Cathi Shaw lives in Summerland, BC with her husband and
three children.  She is often found wandering around her home, muttering in a seemingly incoherent manner, particularly when her characters have embarked on new adventure. In addition to writing fiction, she teaches rhetoric and professional writing in the Department of Communications at Okanagan College and is the co-author of the textbook Writing Today.

Twitter: @CathiShaw

Liza: Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter for chances to win a $50 Gift Card from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. 

And for more chances to win, follow each stop of Cathi Shaw's Blog Tour


  1. Liza, thanks for hosting me with such a fun post! I love it! :)

  2. Nice post Cathi. I think if I tried my hand at writing and let characters develop in my head the outcome, frankly, would be shocking anmd not fit for decent company lol. As it is I have no filter on my mouth, who knows what would spill out if I acturally wrote a book that was character driven? Thanks so much for sharing. Hope you have an awesome weekend.

    ilookfamous at yahoo dot com

  3. I enjoyed the Character Creation.


  4. I have to say, character worksheets don't work for me either. I have to have conversations with them. Tweeted.

  5. I liked the excerpt and blurb. I only do character worksheets if I'm stuck. But just interviewing the character in my mind helps out tremendously.

  6. I'm not able to plan out the characters... I need to let them come alive! :)


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