Today’s guest for Full of Character is Hope Toler Dougherty. Before we begin, here’s a little more about Hope.
Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her publications include three novels, Irish Encounter and Mars…With Venus Rising, and Rescued Hearts as well as nonfiction articles. A member of ACFW, RWA, and SinC, she writes for SeriousWriter.com. She and her husband live in North Carolina and enjoy visits with their two daughters and twin sons. Visit her at hopetolerdougherty.com.
Now on to the interview:
What character from the books you’ve read has impacted you more than all the others?
Jane Eyre! She has such strength and sense of purpose and self. She stays true to her moral convictions even when choosing the amoral path would have hurt no one and would have given her what she’d always wanted, love.
What character you created was the easiest to write?
I loved writing minor characters, Agnes, Jancie, Winnie, and Gigi. All these women are senior citizens who still have a zest for life. They know the value of prayer, enjoy hobbies and take trips, are stylish and show love with food—enormous amounts of delicious food. I’ve had several readers say they want to be like Gigi. She’s overcome many obstacles on her way to being a grandmother. She speaks her mind softly but firmly while sporting a fresh hairstyle and cute sandals. She also has her concealed carry permit that allows the little pistol under the driver’s seat of her car.
Sounds like a fun group of women. Though you might not want to mess with Gigi! How about the hardest?
The hardest characters would probably be Dusty and Skeet, the criminals in Rescued Hearts. I wanted them to be true and not caricatures. Writing their non-standard English was tricky, again, because I didn’t want them to sound cheesy. Writing double negatives even in dialog also made me cringe!
Good dialog that showcases the character’s personality, education, and background without sounding over the top can be tricky, especially when it goes against grammar rules! Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?
I’m not exactly answering the question you asked, but I’d love to have the childlike courage of Moses’ sister, Miriam. I’d like to have the steadfast faith of the bleeding woman who believed just the touch of Jesus’ robe would heal her. I would love to have the immediate and zealous urgency of the woman at the well to share the Good News.
I don’t know. I think you answered the question very well. Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?
I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, so I don’t outline or plot every detail, and writing the story is similar to reading a book as far as discovering what happens.
I do, however, complete character sketches for the male and female leads. The sketches I use have about 125 questions ranging from surface questions like What color are her eyes to deeper ones like What is her greatest fear. I try to answer as many questions as possible so that I know as much as I can about my character. The information may not make it into the story, but it’s in the back of my mind and helps me write true to each character.
That sounds like a great balance of planning and winging it. If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?
Hmm. Maybe Sandra Bullock. We have a few overlapping years at East Carolina University, but I never met her. She’s a talented actress and has a great sense of humor.
She is talented, and she even has dark hair like yours! Thank you for taking the time for this interview. It’s been fun getting to know you more.
If you’d like to ask Hope your own question or share a thought sparked by one of her answers, feel free to do so in the comments below. But first, here are her books and where you can get in touch with Hope:
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