Friday, September 11, 2015

When Characters Create Themselves~I Love It!

Back a long time ago, when I used to believe everything that I was told about "how to" write and all this preparation and blah, blah, blah, I would fill out these detailed character sheets that had come from some writing source. Over time, I noticed I didn't use them much and that my characters had a tendency to travel their own path as I wrote, so I went with a simpler method. I believe how you write all comes down to what works well for you and gets you to "the end." 

For me, I do a general character outline on notebook paper. Name, age, profession, family. A few personal things. Just enough to give me an idea about who the character is. My characters develop as the story develops, and I just love the surprises! In my historical romance, To Save a Lady, I had no idea Elise was a window-shopper. It was just something she did on her own and I knew it was an aspect of her character that had emerged during a scene. 

Besides little surprises, there are big ones. Darlene, my Southern Lucille Ball/Marilyn Monroe gal, is one of my most popular characters and one of the most fun characters I've written. She was totally not planned. Years ago, I was planning to write a story for a contest and it was going to feature two dimwitted crooks. In that story, a blonde came running out of the house where they were stealing gasoline out of the mayor's Cadillac. I just called her Darlene because that sounded like the 50's. I never could make the story work and a couple of years later, I was thinking about it and it hit me that it was actually Darlene's story. Once I went with that, the story came together and so did Darlene's character. I just started out with her wanting to be a movie star like Marilyn Monroe. Her enterprising attitude all came about when I put her into action in the story. 

Another big surprise was the character, Rafe, in To Save a Lady. I was writing a scene with the hero, Jesse, on Grand Terre island. And up walked this guy and I was like who are you? It turned out he was Jesse's former roommate at school, the son of an admiral and now a privateer. He actually played an important role in the conclusion of the book. Although the second book was supposed to be another character's story, I knew the second book would be Rafe's. 

For me, the surprises like Darlene and Rafe are what makes telling a story surprising and fun for me. 


Reina M. Williams said...

I agree about character suprises, Patricia, and I'm so glad you embraced telling Darlene's story! :)

Patricia Preston said...

Thanks, Reina! So glad to see you! Hope you are doing well!

Betty Jo said...

I love it when a new character walks across the big movie screen of your mind and they just ARE. You know them from the moment their name is uttered in the recesses of your mind. Some of those characters end up being my favorites! And are usually the most interesting. ;) Love the post!