Guest Post About Creating Compelling Characters by J.C. Martin, Author of Oracle

Posted by Lisa L. on Sunday, August 5, 2012

I am very excited to welcome the amazing and talented J.C. Martin today whose thriller, Oracle was released on July 30, 2012!

J.C. and I were critique partners and I had the privilege of reading Oracle just before J.C. snagged a publisher.  It is an incredible book.  As I read through it, I had to keep reminding myself that I was supposed to be critiquing. It was just that good.  Again, here is the blurb!  Keep scrolling for the guest post on developing compelling characters.



With London gearing up to host the Olympics, the city doesn't need a serial killer stalking the streets, but they've got one anyway.

Leaving a trail of brutal and bizarre murders, the police force is no closer to finding the latest psychopath than Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is in finding a solution for his daughter's disability.

Thrust into the pressure cooker of a high profile case, the struggling single parent is wound tight as he tries to balance care of his own family with the safety of a growing population of potential victims.

One of whom could be his own daughter.

Fingers point in every direction as the public relations nightmare grows, and Lancer's only answer comes in the form of a single oak leaf left at each crime scene.


Purchase Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble


About the Author


J.C. Martin is a butt-kicking bookworm: when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and self-defence to adults and children. 

After working in pharmaceutical research, then in education as a schoolteacher, she decided to put the following to good use: one, her 2nd degree black belt in Wing Chun kung fu; and two, her overwhelming need to write dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant. 

Her short stories have won various prizes and have been published in several anthologies. Oracle is her first novel.

Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.


Contact: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

4 Tips on Developing Compelling Characters

For me, a good book must not just have an intriguing story, it must also have a compelling character, one who will interest me enough to invest hours of my time reading about.

Literature is littered with examples of unforgettable characters: Mr. Darcy, Sherlock Holmes, and Harry Potter, to name a few. But for every memorable character, there are hundreds of forgotten ones, characters so uninteresting that readers don’t even remember their name after finishing the book.

So how does one create an unforgettable character, one who will compel readers to stick around, not just for one book, but for an entire series?

1. He/she should be less than perfect

To quote a cliché, nobody’s perfect, so creating a character who is good-looking, smart, brave, talented in multiple obscure skills, yada-yada … is just not realistic. Giving your character flaws will actually make readers identify with them more. Even better, make these flaws an obstacle in your hero’s quest: perhaps someone with a fear of heights must walk a narrow ledge at the top of a skyscraper to access the locked room where his wife is tied to a ticking time bomb? Readers will be compelled to read on to find out just how your hero can overcome their flaws to achieve their goal.   

2. He/she should have a past

Mysterious heroes who appear out of nowhere, save the day, and disappear back into the sunset are not only unrealistic, they’re also forgettable. Giving your character a past, be it an interesting, cushy, or traumatic one, will make them more real. Does their history dictate their traits? Does it account for their unusual accent? Do they still carry scars from the past? Giving your character a back story will make them more identifiable, eliciting both empathy and sympathy from readers.

3. He/she should have strong opinions

A person’s opinions on certain matters can provide deep insights into his or her character. Someone with no strong feelings about anything is boring to read about. Is your hero religious or an atheist? Do they respect authority, or play by their own rules? Are family values important to them, or do they relish being a loner? Showing your hero’s opinions on certain issues is a great way to reveal their identity.

4. He/she should be quirky

Everybody has odd quirks and habits, so your character should, too. Does she chew on her hair when anxious? Does he alphabetise his CD collection? Any unusual hobbies or collections? Showing your hero’s quirks will add further relatable layers to their character.

Who is your favourite literary character? What do you think makes he/she compelling and memorable?

Tags: "j.c. martin"  oracle  "guest post" 

About Me

Lisa Regan I am the author of Finding Claire Fletcher, Losing Leah Holloway, Kill For You, Hold Still, Cold-Blooded and the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling Detective Josie Quinn series (Vanishing Girls, The Girl With No Name, Her Mother's Grave). You can email me directly at



Make a free website with Yola