Writing characters

I think one of the best parts of writing a novel was getting to create characters. Every time that I came to a new character in my story, I got to plan who they were going to be. My mind would run through all of the people I knew, trying to pick character traits that I admired or abhorred that I wanted my newest character to have.

I would guess that it’s pretty common for new authors to base some of their characters on people they know. Sometimes it’s because they feel blessed to know those people, and sometimes it might be because they wish they didn’t know those people. (I’m sure that more than one person I know has considered becoming a novelist just so they could take that one especially horrible person they know and turn them into a character, and then kill off that character. ) They say you should write what you know, so I guess it’s only reasonable to loosely base a few of your characters on people you’re close to.

My absolute favorite part of writing my novels was having the characters become real to me. I’ll admit, I’m about halfway in love with my hero. (And, yes, I’ve already confessed that to my husband!)

My mother and my best friend were my first two editors. They understood, quickly, that these people were people to me, not characters. I talked about them in the present tense, almost like I had actually seen or talked to them just moments ago. And it was a beautiful thing!

When I was moving into a new chapter or a new situation, I knew how my characters would react. They were so real to me that I didn’t have to wonder what their reactions would be. I already knew. I could picture their faces, see expressions and reactions.

There were several times that I had a character that just didn’t work. I would try to introduce a character with certain traits, and I wound up taking them right back out.

On the flip side of that coin, I had at least two characters be more than what I thought they were going to be. Originally planned as “throw-away” characters, ones that you met in passing and then never heard from again, they managed to stick themselves into the book and become important. It was really surprising to me when that happened, but I enjoyed it.

I’ve known where my series was headed since the beginning, but some of the ways it’s moved have been surprising to me. (More surprising to my mother, apparently. She called me after one chapter, laughing but semi-devastated, saying, “You can’t do that!” Uh, yes, I can. I’m the author! 😉 ) The surprises were fun for me. I hope they’ll be even more enjoyable for you.

And, most of all, I hope that you’ll see my characters as real people, too. That you’ll get to know and love them, and forget that they’re all just figments of my imagination. 🙂

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