Getting to know your characters

I’ve been writing away on the third book of my Everyday Goddesses series and pealing away at the layers of my character, Minerva Holt, judge.

When you begin a story, you always have a sense of who you’re working with. You’ve already written a back story, know where she came from, what her passion is , who her friends are, her strengths and weaknesses, a wound or two, and what stunts her growth. In this series, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m incorporating goddess through symbols, elements, and aspects. It means I have to configure the personality to include a variety of traits. Minerva is air, mental, intelligent, but she’s also from the south which means she’s full of charm, stylish, feminine. At times they are at odds with each other but it helps me create depth. There’s nothing worse than a two dimensional character.

With every chapter, with every layer peeled away, I’m finding out something new about Minerva. Sometimes it’s in direct contrast to what she’s already revealed in an earlier chapter. The challenge is trying to merge them into one complete whole. How can a daughter who’s a daddy’s girl with the need to please, be a stringent voice for justice, even when it goes against the consensus? How can a woman who never leaves the house without her face be confident in who she is at the core of her being. How can a woman who doesn’t like to rock the boat, who loves harmony and symmetry, strike at the very heart of the judicial system if it suits her purpose. How can a woman who doesn’t do change well, change her colors seamlessly like a chameleon when the situation requires it.

This complexity makes for an interesting person, but it makes it more difficult for the writer who must shift from one paradigm to another. I’ve had to go back and start the book again and again to re-align things with Minnie’s surprise revelations. Didn’t her mother want her to stay home and raise a family? Then why did she champion Min’s law career after her marriage failed? Didn’t Minnie leave the south behind, in search of independence, when she moved to Eden? Then why does she let her father’s expectations still control parts of her life?

Humans are complicated specimens. Just because a character lives between the covers of a book doesn’t mean she can be made of cardboard, flat, without essence.

The writer’s job is to make their characters real. It’s one of the most difficult things to do but also the most fun. I’m looking forward to a few more months of it.

After much thought and re-reading some of Sark’s work, I’m thinking of calling this one Bodacious Choices.

What do y’all think?