The Inner Turmoil of Your Characters

by S. Dionne Moore

We all have an inner demon, that one area of our life or tragic event of our past that we struggle to overcome. This inner demon doesn’t have to be something terrible; it can be something as simple as pride or a tendency toward selfishness. For many of us it’s more than one thing. Some people wear their inner demons for all to see, or talk about them ad nauseaum. On the flip side, there are those who are reticent to speak of their struggles or who hide them well. In our stories, inner turmoil is an essential element to creating a realistic hero or heroine, and how each character shows or doesn’t show their inner turmoil makes for some great characterization.

As writers, we go to great lengths to develop outside obstacles for our characters to overcome, often forgetting to make the hero/heroine real to our reader. A reader will connect with a character whose inner conflict they can relate to. Before you set pen to paper, or fingertips to keyboard, know your Most Likely Reader (MLR) and target a problem common to their age group.

With my MLR being mothers whose children are grown and gone, the heroine in my debut novel, Murder on the Ol’ Bunions, begins to experience the full onslaught of Empty Nest Syndrome as one by one her children cancel their plans to come home for Easter dinner. Empty Nest Syndrome taps into LaTisha’s greatest fear, that of not being needed.

Of course, being a cozy mystery, LaTisha also has a murder to solve. Solving the death of her former employer, Marion Peters, helps distract LaTisha from her quickly dwindling dinner guest list. This distraction also adds a dimension of realism to the character’s inner turmoil—how often do we experience the need to cork emotional upheaval (inner turmoil) in order to deal with outside problems?

Take characterization to new heights by making sure your hero/heroine has a solid inner conflict. Make sure it is a characteristic common to your MLR, or one your MLR will understand and identify with, then weave it into your story, or even put the inner conflict at odds with other characters. The best stories often use this tool (one character’s weakness is another character’s strength) to improve the conflict or tension in their novel.
Finding the MLR for your story takes some research. Let’s say you have done your research and found that the most likely reader of your romantic suspense are females between twenty to forty years of age. This is the group who you want to target when planning the inner turmoil of your heroine. Write the story with them in mind, their struggles and fears, hopes and disappointments. Not only will your story be stronger for it, but you have also simplified your marketing plan by understanding the makeup of your MLR.


S. Dionne Moore is a historical romance author who resides in South Central PA with her family, surrounded by the beautiful Cumberland Valley and lots of fun, historically rich locations. Brides of Wyoming is a repackaging of three historical romances set in Wyoming and due for release November 1, 2016

Dionne Moore, an obvious pseudonym, is the author of the LaTisha Barnhart Mysteries. Books one, two and three (Murder on the Bunions, Polly Dent Loses Grip and Recipe for Deceit aka Your Goose is Cooked) are all available via Kindle.

For more details:

Murder on the Bunions (A LaTisha Barnhart Cozy Mystery Book 1)
LaTisha Barnhart’s bunions tell her something’s afoot as she delves deeper into the murder of her former employee, Marion Peters. When LaTisha becomes a suspect, the ante is upped, and she is determined to clear her name and find the culprit.

She’s burping Mark Hamm’s bad cooking to investigate his beef with Marion. . .getting her hair styled at a high falutin’ beauty parlor to see what has Regina Rogane in a snarl. . .playing self-appointed matchmaker between the local chief and a prime suspect. . .and thinking Payton O’Mahney’s music store lease might be the reason he’s singing out of tune when discussion of Marion’s murder arises. LaTisha’s thinking she just might use the reward money to get her bunions surgically removed. But she’s got to catch the crook first.