Author, speaker, licensed counselor, and life coach, Tina has won over twenty-eight writing awards. She is passionate about guiding people across the threshold of healing to access life’s potential and has over twenty years of teaching experience. Two of her writing workshops are available through Serious Writer Academy. Tina is the publisher of Inkspirations Online, a writers’ devotional and mentors four chapters of Word Weavers International. Beautiful Warrior, her upcoming book on women’s esteem, is scheduled to release with New Hope Publishers in July of 2019. For the latest on Beautiful Warrior, or to connect with her as a speaker, coach, or manuscript therapist, visit tinayeager.com.
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Caleb: How has your experience in counseling helped you in character development?
Tina: Characters should be as realistic as possible, so they should be as human as possible. The more you know about the mindset of a real person, and how someone is constructed … it’s going to give your characters a more three-dimensional quality that captures the imagination and the heart of your reader, and immerses them in the story.
Caleb: What is the first step you take in getting to know your character?
Tina: I’m a daydreamer. I’m an organic writer. I like to just go with what appears in my mind as that character. You can use a tool like a personality test if you really want to go in to thinking about things like are they an extrovert or an introvert? Think about not just their personality but their backstory. How does that play into what’s going to happen with that character, and daydream that character into existence before you put them onto the page. That will keep you from info-dumping on the first page of your novel. You might want to flush all that out, but don’t do that for the reader, or the reader will be board. Know your character well enough to paint them, and then write them.
Caleb: How simple/complex should a character’s psychological struggle be?
Tina: I would err on the side on complex than on the side of too simple. Someone has to have enough layers of complexity in order to be realistic.
Caleb: What is the difference between an internal struggle and an external struggle?
Tina: An internal struggle is the character discovering who they really are, something that is an issue within them that is a conflict they’re trying to resolve. Whether that is a mental conflict, a conflict with their emotions or a conflict overcoming a wound, or a trauma, or a lie, or a fear in their past that was created. They are changing as the story goes along. The external conflicts are the forces that are coming against your hero from the outside, whether it’s a decision or a circumstance or an antagonist. That’s the external conflict.
Caleb: As complex as human motivations are, how do you choose which internal conflict drives the character through the story.
Tina: It depends on your story and it depends on your character. You shouldn’t just pick [an internal struggle] and say, “Oh here’s a popular, trendy thing!” You should pick something that is appropriate to the story and appropriate to you as a writer.
Caleb: How do you properly portray a character with a mental illness or trauma?
Tina: Please do your research if you are going to put a character into your story that has mental health issues, because you will have readers who experience those mental health issues and it will be insulting to them if you get it wrong. Please do your research, and please do not stereotype anyone with a mental illness. Make sure you’ve put enough depth into your character so they will be relatable, and realistic and that they have qualities that the reader admires.