Saturday, April 4, 2009


Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book — character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre — she decided to write her own. More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire, available at Amazon and from Second Wind Publishing, are Bertram’s first novels.

Our characters are more than just the creatures of our story world, they are the lens through which readers see into that world. It is possible to tell a story without using this lens, but the resulting story world can be gray and lifeless. Characters interacting with that world and each other give it color and life.

I learned this the hard way.

When I wrote the first draft of More Deaths Than One (and the second draft and the third) I had the hero Bob meandering around his world trying to unravel his past all by himself, and it was boring. Did I say boring? It was moribund. I could not make him come alive. He was dull rather than the mysterious character I wanted him to be, and even when the incredible information about him unfolded during the course of the novel, it too was uninteresting. No matter what I did, I could not make him or his past three-dimensional.

In desperation, I created a love interest for him. (It seems like an obvious solution, but originally I wanted him to be a loner.) When I began to see him through her eyes and her amazement, all of a sudden he burst into full color.

Using one character’s viewpoint to show another character also allows us to be enigmatic when it comes to characterization. If we as the author/narrator were to describe a character as being kind, he must be so. If another character describes him as being kind, he might be kind, but he also might be kind only to her and mean to everyone else, or he might be abusive to her and she interprets it as being kind because she is not used to having anyone pay attention to her. While learning about him through her eyes, we also learn about her.

In this same way, when we see the story world as the character sees it rather than how we as the creator of the world envisioned it, the scenery comes alive. The day might be bleak, but if the character sees this bleakness and thinks what a wonderful day it is, we learn about the weather, and we learn about her or him.

And we make the story world come alive for readers. We make readers a part of the story because they identify with the characters. They see the world through the characters’ eyes.



  1. Hi, Joylene! Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. I admire the way you have grown from a self-published author to an international star. (If you're not there yet, one day you will be. You have the drive.)Best of luck!

  2. You're so welcomed, Pat. You deserve great success. Thanks for guest blogging. You're an inspiration.

  3. Wouldn't it be great to have a money tree? We could buy & read every book that catches our eye. Spend without limits on marketing our books or (in my case) give them away to kids to promote reading. Pat's books look very interesting (appealing) & I checked out the excerpts. I agree that characters drive the tale. A good plot with dull players is... well... destined to be dull. Enough of a break already - I'm back to my previously stalled WIP. The muse decided to visit yesterday (finally) & he brought along a nice box of cigars. Pop likes cigars yaknow. Thanks Pat & best wishes for great success. Have a nice Sunday Joylene.

  4. Great article, Pat. Thanks for sharing. Wishing robust sales for your novels.

    Joylene, is the celebration of Cory's return still raging on at the Butler house? I bet so. WooHoo!

    JaxPop, keep that muse entertained.


  5. Thanks for dropping by, Dave. Yes, you definitely need to watch out for Pat and her affect on the reading public. This young lady is going places.

  6. Hi Keith! Thanks for stopping by. Pat's got that talent that is so outstanding that you can't help but take notice.

    Celebrations are on hold now until we all meet in Toronto, then fly down to Jamaica together to see Cory get married off. Can't wait. If you're in the area, stop by the Breeze Resort. haha. Hey, stranger things have happened!

  7. JaxPop, a money tree would be wonderful. Unfortunately, I don't see them in any of the seed catalogs I've been getting in the mail recently. As for stalled WIPs. Yep. Am there.

    kap, thank you for stopping by. When I get the seeds for that money tree, I'll send some your way.

  8. I love Pat's blogs. I've ordered both books and know they're going to be great reads.

    Thanks Pat for all your excellent blogs.

    Best Bev.

  9. Interesting post. I never really considered characters from the point of view of other characters, but you are correct, they are defined that way.

  10. I think that's why Nick's POV in the Great Gatsby is so on the mark. Nick gives us insight into Nick that we wouldn't have otherwise. And we connect to him too in a way that we wouldn't have if the story had been written in Omni.

  11. Interesting post, Pat. Thanks for the opportunity to hear one more good writer's knowledge about characteristics and how important voice is to the story.

  12. Intersting blog, Pat. Character-driven stories are definitely they kind I enjoy. I'm looking forward to reading "More Deaths than One" particularly, as the first two chapters have haunted me since I read them long ago on Gather.

    Best of luck, Pat!

  13. Our characters are more than just the creatures of our story world, they are the lens through which readers see into that world....In this same way, when we see the story world as the character sees it rather than how we as the creator of the world envisioned it, the scenery comes alive.

    If characters are lifeless the story will be, too. Writers are constantly told "show, don't tell" to breathe life into both. Pat demonstrates the impact of vibrant versus blah so very well. Thanks for a good post.

  14. What a great post! Both of these books sound so great and I am definitely putting them on my MUST read list!!

  15. I love what you shared here and on the interview with Pierre. I had to keep going and am into the 6th chapter of More Deaths Than One. This book doesn't fit into any mold of storytelling I have seen so far and I can highly recommend it.

  16. Joylene, you have been awarded and tagged. *insert sound of drive-by blogging* When you get a chance, stop by MB4! :-)

  17. thanks so much for stopping by, Kenna, Careann, April and Laurie. Pat's novels are going to be big successes.

    SW, hey! Thank you. I'll be right over.


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