Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Creating the Character Make-Over

Today I'm excited to have fellow Muse It Up author Karina Fabian tell how she gave one of her characters a complete make-over for her new paranormal fantasy MIND OVER PSYCHE. Welcome, Karina!

(If you’ve not read MIND OVER MIND, then caution: this post contains spoilers. Check out MIND OVER MIND, the first book in the Mind Over trilogy here.

I’ve mentioned in several interviews over the years that the Mind Over trilogy started out as a novel I wrote in college. Like many first works, it was pretty pale, and after not succeeding in selling it, I had put it aside for ten years. Coming back with much living and writing experience under my belt, I realized just how two-dimensional I’d made the characters. I still loved the general idea of the story, however, so I rethought the characters and they turned the story from good to amazing.

Other blogs have covered how I altered the main character, Deryl Stephens, a psychic teenager. In a nutshell, I gave him so many problems concerning his telepathic abilities, I had to commit him for half a decade before I could start the story! Seriously, who has psychic contact with aliens and ends up well-adjusted? Today, however, I want to talk about his cohort, Joshua.

Joshua started out as Deryl’s roommate in college, a real redneck with cowboy boots and accent and a bad attitude toward his new East Coast yuppie roomie. Obviously, the revised Deryl never made it to college, so I needed a different reason for Joshua to interact with him. Psychiatric intern worked well, and kept him around the same age, plus allowed him to help Deryl as well as befriend him much to the chagrin of Deryl’s lead psychiatrist). Joshua needed a special skill set, though; otherwise, why would his work be so much more effective than the counseling and drug therapy of five years at an expensive mental institution? Since I’d done some reading about neuro linguistic programming and think it a fascinating process, I made Joshua a natural at it, having learned it from his father growing up. However, my characters inevitably have minds of their own, so NLP was a fallback plan for Joshua, who really wants to be a singer and is only doing the summer internship to make money for college after having lost his scholarships.

In MIND OVER MIND, Joshua provided pockets of normalcy and balance to Deryl’s fantastical experiences. But what happens when normal gets plopped into the fantastical?

This is what we explore in Mind Over Psyche, when Deryl teleports them to the planet Kanaan. There they encounter psychic aliens, dragons and unicorns, trees that grow to the size of school buildings, and the Miscria, who can alter the weather and the shape of the land with her mind.
What fun for a science fiction/fantasy geek like Joshua. NOT. When they first arrive, Deryl’s unconscious. Joshua can’t communicate. The unicorns look dangerous. The aliens try to kill him, and even after they “accept” him and Deryl, they don’t trust them. Joshua is umpteenth-billion miles from his family, his fiancĂ©, his music…and before that summer, he’d never set foot out of Colorado. Worst of all, he’s not confident Deryl can get him home, ever.

All of Joshua’s self-assured manner from MIND OVER MIND vanishes. His first reaction upon seeing the aliens is to throw his hands over his head and cry, “We come in peace!” He panicks, despairs, and at one point in the book has an anxiety attack. In other words, he reacts the way most people who love their life would if suddenly kidnapped from their homes.

Of course, it’s not all bad. He makes friends and becomes a favorite of the unicorns, especially after he discovers they aren’t so unlike the horses he raises at home. (He’s not a cowboy, but does have a horse and was in 4-H.) He discovers he has a healing talent, though it seems limited and only works on Kanaan. More importantly, he’ll need to use his psychiatric and musical skills to save both Deryl and the Miscria. How? Go read MIND OVER PSYCHE and find out!

Very interesting post on character make-over, Karina. Thanks for sharing!!

--KSR Writer


Joshua returned to consciousness fully expecting to be in a hospital bed, his slashed throat swathed in bandages, his singing career over before it had started. His hands moved to his throat, found it bare and intact and breathed a prayer of thanks before opening his eyes.

He found himself on his back in a small, tree-lined meadow, but he didn’t recognize the trees.
He sat up slowly, more disoriented than dizzy. Had he had amnesia? “Sachiko?” he called. “Mom? Dad? Anyone?”

He saw Deryl lying on his side, unconscious. Not far from him, near a break in the treeline, stood—
Joshua gulped.

A unicorn!

…or something like a unicorn. Its rhinoceros-like horn and thick neck and shoulders made it a far scarier version than any Joshua had read about in fantasy novels. It stared straight at them.
Joshua licked dry lips. “Easy fella,” he soothed, and reached over to shake his friend. “Deryl, time to wake up.”

Part of Joshua’s mind gibbered that Deryl was really psychic, that he’d teleported them to an alien planet. Another part argued that he was dreaming or had gone insane himself. He told them both to shut up, but he couldn’t stop his breathing from accelerating or his hands from trembling as he shook his friend.

Deryl’s eyelids fluttered, then closed.

He’s drugged. Malachai’s zombiefied him again, and we’re stuck on another world!
He shook his friend harder. “Come on, man! Don’t do this to me. Wake up!”

Joshua heard hoof beats and turned in time to see several unicorns with red-clad riders approach from the trail. He vaguely noted they looked human, before his eyes focused on the swords they drew.
He did the only thing he could think of. He raised his arms, palms open, and said, “We come in peace!”

The warrior he faced, a scowling man with a narrow head, wide-set eyes, and a pocked and scarred face, didn’t understand him or didn’t care. He arched his sword toward Joshua.

Joshua covered his head with his arms and ducked.

Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), Karina Fabian has plenty of voices in her head without being psychic. Fortunately, they fuel her many stories, like the Mind Over trilogy. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training. Read about her adventures at

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