Believable characters are imperative in “story”. They must be complex, durable, and able to change. They need to come alive on the page, connect to the reader in ways that make the audience forget they are figments of someone’s imagination. I like nothing better than reading a story I don’t want to end, when the last page causes sadness and regret. And yet, it always lives on. I relish the last chapter over and over in my mind, continuing to savor the writing, the plot, and the characters.
I think it might be how a series come to be. My Fire and Ice books revolved around a law firm and six attorneys. I loved them and what they stood for, the men they chose as mates and wanted to hang out with them as long as I could. What started out as a four part series ended as six. Same for the Scalera series. While I was writing Cold Sweat, Johnny’s family become so real to me that I imagined Rissa, Lana, Tony and Dennis with a story all their own. And then the nagging began. A stand alone book became a family saga.
Having just finished reading Robyn Carr’s Sullivan Crossing series, I wonder if the same thing happened to her. California Jones came from a dysfunctional family but seemed to have come out of it alive and well. Did his siblings fare as well? Then we meet Sierra and Dakota…
I use a variety of resources to create living and breathing characters. Astrology charts and birth order books, the guide to enneagram personality, the positive and negative traits and emotional wound thesaurus, and a variety of articles from my subscription to Psychology Today. I assign an idiosyncratic habit like jingling loose change, a wave of the hand, chewing a nail, because we all have them.
The hardest part of developing characters is making them all different. When you’re on your fifteenth book, you want to make sure your next character is as fresh as your first one. I’ve read an author who had five books, five female leads and I enjoyed it so much I ordered her next series. There was a problem. Her characters were carbon copies of the ones that went before. I was disappointed.
As I embark on yet another series, I’m dealing with the same type of strong women that I always do. My goal is to make them all unique, each with their own voice and distinctive style. Magic Bean Café will be coming out this spring. Rhea is earthy, and very much her own person. She feeds the soul with a smile that lights up her face.
Gwen, who follows, is…well, she’s completely different…
It’s the difference between earth and fire.