How To Unwrap Your Character’s Layers – Christmas Present Style

1327969_79334845Presents have a way of making a person curious. If you don’t believe me, just ask my children who have been snooping around the house all in a guise of innocence, looking for that stash of  presents.

Then there is the whole shake it and see what might be in there moment. After all, they aren’t really looking in the package. It is just using the intelligence God gave them, right? (Kids are great at using our words to their benefit, hehe.)

After they shake it and make sure no one is looking, they look for a loose piece of tape, you know, just in case it needs smoothing. They couldn’t help it that the piece that was a touch loose and  just flew open when they touched it, showed the end of the package.

Any Mom knows you either find an amazing hiding place, cover the ends of the package with paper, or make that tape cement tough. Terrible as it sounds, sometimes I catch myself giggling as I add an extra layer of tape.

My kids are pretty good and don’t give in to their curiosity for a present hunt very often, but just in case, I come prepared. DUCT TAPE! (Just kidding.)

So what can Christmas Presents teach us about Writing? 

Unwrapping a character on the page should happen in layers. It builds the anticipation for the when the character is completely understood. Motivations, actions, romance, change, all of these are revealed a bit at a time.

My Book Therapy has helped me to understand a bit how to layer a character by using the lie journey interview.  As you are unwrapping your character’s layers on the page you might find this helpful. The following includes some of the ideas of MBT wrapped with a bow.

Unwrapping Your Characters Layers Christmas Present Style:229786_4190

*The Shake Up – Something happens in the beginning of the novel that shakes up your character and reveals that they need to change. The reader can see the character’s lie and something that the character needs to change.

*Loose Tape. Through the experiences on the page we get a sneak peak of the loose ends their life holds. What are their strengths and flaws? We see their strengths, flaws, successes and failures in their journey and it shows us little sneak peaks of their identity. This reaches just below the surface to the actions that show their response to the inner layer.

*Cover Up. When a character feels vulnerable they try to smooth out the loose tape. Keep their lives more private.

*Finally Unwrapping. Something happens in the character’s life that rips them apart. It shows their pain, their motivation, and their final decision to overcome it. This digs deep to identify the core change of our character.

There are many nuanced levels along the way. Next week’s posts will break these steps up into smaller parts, making them easier to create.

What fun memory do you have of kids snooping in presents at the holidays?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

13 thoughts on “How To Unwrap Your Character’s Layers – Christmas Present Style

  1. My kids NEVER snooped. lol It would be hard to pick out one. I do remember when I was a kid, lying on the couch and staring at the presents one year. I wanted a camera and kept trying to figure out if one of the packages could be it. Then I would think about all the pictures I was going to take. Dreaming about that camera was almost as good as actually getting it.

  2. dtopliff says:

    Great analogy. We kids didn’t snoop. Our mom wrapped the gifts but then couldn’t stand it, unwrapped them without us asking to let us peek and then wrapped them again and asked us to act surprised . . .

  3. JaniceG says:

    I don’t remember any snooping going on however perhaps the snooping was going on and mom was ignorant about it! I do remember as a child visiting with our grandparents in another state over the Christmas holidays, and I was real worried that Santa would not know where to find us. I found out you can’t hide from Santa whether youv’e been naughty or nice. I was usually very nice.

    This is such a wise way you have showed us about revealing a character. Thank you for all your help to the hopefuls.


    • Michelle Lim says:

      How cute is that? I think other kids have worried if Santa could find them, too! And you are so welcome for the help, I have been blessed to be the recipient of wonderful mentors. Giving back is just part of the process.

      • I have a friend who has recently made friends with the wife of an executive from Toyota. Neither she nor their two girls speak very much English. The girls had learned about Santa since arriving in the US and now that they were living in an apartment with no fireplace they were worried that he wouldn’t bring them gifts. My friend told them that Santa has a magic key that fits all the door in America. And now they are happy again.

      • Michelle Lim says:

        Pat, this is hilarious! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Cool way to talk about this, Michelle–love the Christmas present tie-in. Honestly, I was a goody-two-shoes type kid so I very rarely went looking for Christmas gift hiding places. But I will confess to shaking a gift or two. 🙂

    • Michelle Lim says:

      That is fantastic…knew there were a few out there who were a bit less devious than myself. LOl! My sister and I even exchanged gift knowledge as kids. All under the guise of not letting our parents know…funny thing is, it took some of the joy out of it.

  5. jackielayton says:

    I ALWAYS snooped when I was little. Thank goodness I outgrew that habit.
    Loved your post today. You’re so creative!

  6. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Jackie!

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