Let’s talk about characters, also known as my imaginary friends who dominate my head space – sorry, real-lifers. If you’ve been following me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen my characters and you’ve probably seen their snippets from my books. People are always telling me that my characters seem well-developed and that’s because I like to think they are. One thing I get asked a lot about is character development. I spend a lot of time working with my characters and learning about them.
I view my characters as people. They’re more than just one-dimensional cardboard cutouts. They’re people moving on the page with purpose. Just like people, they have emotions, problems, flaws, good qualities, and bad. This applies to all characters, including side characters and antagonists. Yes, even my villains have some positive attributes. Positive traits don’t always equate with kindness and compassion, they can include intelligence, wit, ambition, determination, confidence, and more. Even if the baddies uses their good qualities for evil, they’re still positive attributes. I’ll tackle my antagonists in another post.
My characters are the heart of this series. They’re the reason I started writing these books in the first place. It wasn’t an idea or plot that sparked the series, it was one character, Nick. Nick is the male lead in Book One of The Witches of Luna Cove series. The book centers around him and the female lead, Karina. I want to talk about Nick for a hot bit.
I first met Nick over seven years ago while I was revising a short story for my creative writing class. He just barged into my head, told me his name, and started revealing pieces of his story. He sucked me into his world and once I fell down the proverbial rabbit hole, there was no turning back.
In the beginning, I didn’t know much about Nick. I knew what he looked like and what his voice sounded like, but that was about it. If you think about it, that’s how it is when you first meet someone. You don’t know much about them, but as you spend more time with them, you get to know them a little more and more. The longer you spend with them the more layers of their personalities are revealed. It’s like peeling away the layers on an onion.
But, it’s not always smooth sailing when it comes to peeling those layers away. Just like people, my characters have secrets they don’t want to share, especially with me and the rest of the world. That’s when I have to do some digging, through an interview process that I like to call couch time. Couch time is where I do one-on-one, freestyle type of interviews with my characters. It’s the best way I can get into their heads and pull those dirty, little secrets out. I know this might sound strange to some people, but yes, I talk to my characters, and yes, they talk back. In fact, they enjoy talking back. They seem to have a snarky comment for everything. It’s kind of their thing.
Let’s get back to couch time. Couch time is also great for when my characters act like idiots, do something out of character, and I need to find out why. I also use couch time to learn about my characters’ backstories and goals. Sometimes they’re revealed organically as the story evolves, but most of the time it takes some extra digging on my part. They hate it, but I don’t care. It helps me get to know them and that’s what matters. The more I know, the more accurately I can portray them, and the more relatable they become.
I tailor my interviews according to the character and what information I’m looking for. I don’t just spout off random questions – I save those for later. Random questions are a fun way of getting to know the people in my stories. I toss out a bunch of questions and see how they answer. My random questions include a list of favorites, pet peeves, daily routines, hobbies, and more.
I do this for all of my characters and yes, it can be a lengthy process, but it’s also a lot of fun. Not to mention, it’s my favorite part of writing. A new person strolls into my head and I’m all about getting to know them, even if they’re a shithead. You gotta take the good with the bad, and sometimes the bad can be a lot of fun.
In short, when it comes to character development, there’s not a surface I don’t touch. I try to know everything that I possibly can about them, even if it never makes it to the book. As I’ve said, the more I know, the more accurately I can portray them on the page and the more relatable and realistic they become. They’re people, not characters.
I know this post is a bit short, but there’s a lot that goes into character development and I can write a book on it. But this is a blog, not a book. I’m not here to teach about crafting characters, I’m just here to talk about my methods and how I go about doing things. I don’t want to bore you all to tears by getting into all the gritty details.
I’ll talk more about each of my characters in future blogs. I’ll also be sharing their interviews at a later date. If you have any questions or want to know more about a specific person, feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you. In the meantime, hop on over to the Extras section to get a peek at the cast for TWOLC, Book One. Happy Friday!