Every Monday, MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR focuses on the art and craft of writing, from Shannon’s perspective or that of guest authors.  To catch up on all posts, check out the MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR portion of the website! 

This week welcomes a guest post from author Jamie Cortland.

DISCLAIMER: This content has been provided to MYSTERY OF CHARACTER FEATURING SHANNON MUIR by Breakthrough Promotions . No compensation was received. This information required by the Federal Trade Commission.


Guest Post from the Author

The Mystery Character

by Jamie Cortland


Have we talked about mystery characters, the characters we need in our books?  If you’re ready to begin the book of your dreams, that’s exactly where we should begin. But, you say you’ve already thought of a great plot, the background, and even the background music if it becomes a movie.

Great. But that’s not where to begin, no matter how great your ideas are. Save your notes for future use. Maybe you can use it for this book, maybe not. Don’t throw them away.

We want to begin with your characters. Your book should be character driven rather than plot driven. While your forming your  characters, remember that they  should believable. We want to bring

them to life, not remain a mystery. Don’t just describe their physical attributes; motivate them. Give them personalities, a background, strengths and weakness. Ask yourself how each of them make their decisions and choices.  Make your readers love them or like them; make them funny or eccentric, but most of all believable. They do begin as mystery characters, but don’t allow them to remain that way!

Become a people watcher…an eavesdropper. No one really likes an eavesdropper, but it is helpful if you’re a writer! Be very observant and let your imagination run wild.

When you develop a kind and believable character whom you place in jeopardy, your readers will root for him. They will want to know what comes next. That’s what you want!

This is true, not only for mysteries or suspense, but also for romance.

If you want your characters to be believable, be very careful with the details that you use to describe them. They should be relevant to your story as well as appropriate. Their dialogue and actions should be unique to each of them. You will notice in both Elmore Leonard’s mystery novels and Janet Evanovich’s  characters dialog and actions suit them.

Don’t forget to describe their age, clothing, mannerisms, backgrounds, history, marital and financial status, morals and perhaps religion early in your story.

How many characters should there be or can I use? You will of course, want the hero, the heroin and the villain along with a few supporting characters who should also be memorable. Some authors are able to include more…perhaps more minor characters, like villains.

Naming your characters is also important and should define the character like Mickey Mouse, Batman, or Superman. Have you noticed that here is a rhythm to names, just as there is to a poem or a manuscript?  I’ve had new authors tell me that they are having difficulties thinking of names. If you are, I’m sure there are dozens of sites on-line listing names.

By the time you finish describing and developing your characters, you will be ready to begin your journey with believable characters. Enjoy it!


About the Author and Featured Book


Weslynn McCallister, pseudonym, Jamie Cortland was born in Evansville, Indiana and raised in Roswell, New Mexico. Today, she lives in the southwest.

A published novelist and an award winning poet, she is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Mystery Writers of America, and is a founding member of the Florida Writers Association.

Educated in the fine arts, she has worked as a high fashion model, graphic designer, and as a real estate agent. When she’s not writing, she enjoys traveling, ballroom dancing, attending live music events and plays.

The Gardener’s Secret

By Jamie Cortland



ISBN-10: 1629897310

ISBN-13: 978-1629897318

World Castle Publishing, LLC

Paperback: 260 pages

June 27, 2017, $11.99

Genre: Romantic suspense

                 Also available for Kindle

When Vince Giardini is believed to have perished in a plane crash over the Rockies, his beautiful wife, Dannie, becomes the target of handsome and charismatic, Eddie Haywood who is a psychopath with a borderline personality disorder. After discovering she needs a gardener and a handyman to care for her mansion on AIA, he applies for the position. As his fascination with her intensifies, he vows to make her his one way or another and he begins to stalk her. Danni knows she is being stalked, especially after the break-in. Alone, without Vince, she has no one to save her from Eddie’s devious plans except her friends, Sal Catalano, her husband’s partner and Peter Langley.


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