Showing posts with label Characters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Characters. Show all posts

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Careful Or You'll End Up In My Novel

That's what my T-shirt reads that was given me by my nieces who also came up with a pair of sweatshirts for my husband and I that are Christmas themed. One says "Nice", the other "Naughty." While my T-shirt warns those around me to be wary of my observing them, I usually don't wear it when I am truly people watching. And people watching helps develop my characters.

Sitting in a restaurant the other night, I noticed two women sharing a plated dinner (the servings were huge so I could understand why). They didn't appear to be a couple, maybe just girlfriends out for dinner. Then I heard one say something about Dad being worried and I guessed sisters. The one who looked just a bit younger was listening to the other and in her body language, I could tell she was nervous or uptight about something. I wondered why I perceived that.

I studied them a bit more and decided that the young blonde was sitting a bit stiffly with her hands stuck between her knees under the table as if her hands might give away her nerves. She was also slightly hunched at the shoulder. Perhaps it was the posture of one who's been lectured by an older sibling before. I could not detect any animosity in her expression. Either she was good at hiding it or there was none--just nerves about what was being revealed.

How would I put this into words if I needed to? I began to run the words in my head that fit my observations. Looking for more things that would convey to a reader what I was observing. After that exercise,  I could begin to project all sorts of ideas of what they could be talking about. Plotting a step mother's demise? Working for two different government agencies and suddenly discovering a cover up in one? Or maybe one was planning a wedding for the other?

Please don't tell my husband that I'm working while we're out to dinner. He thinks I'm just enjoying a night out--and I am. Just not in the same way he might think I am.

Do you people watch to gain insights into characters? There is lots to be gleaned.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hello, My Name Is . . .

This is a post from my blog a few years ago. Ideas come and go. So do characters as did this one. . .

January 7, 2009 - It's a new year and time to start a new novel. I have had a story idea kicking around in my head for months and I guess it is time to let it out. Now that involves meeting new characters. Usually I have a character in mind before I begin a book but this time the storyline came first so I need to get out and "shake hands" with some people to determine who is involved with this story.

Developing a character is a lot like meeting new people. On a cruise for instance, we sit down at a table for a meal and introduce ourselves to the others at the table. After that the conversation turns to where we live, how many kids/grandkids we have, professions, etc. As the cruise goes on, your table mates reveal more and more about their lives--interesting tidbits from their prior trips, tales of exciting experiences from their jobs, what they like to read and why, etc. You get the picture.

So I "met" this character yesterday. His name is Paul Carson and he's an air traffic controller. Now that's an interesting profession! I have lots of questions for him. So far I've found out he's married, has one daughter, grew up in Detroit, MI (but we'll forgive him for being from MI since he went to MSU not UM), and he has quite a story to tell about a time when his faith in God was tested. I'm excited to learn more.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Real Life Characters

Where do writers get their characters from? As the leader of a church book club I've been asked that question several times. I can't speak for everyone else but I'm guessing they come from the same place mine do--real life. Now we all know that we're creating fictional characters but the inspiration has to come from a writer's experiences to make them real.

As my editor at Martin Sisters Publishing was finishing up the last of the galley edits, she asked what I would like on the dedication page of In A Pickle. It was a no-brainer. Here's what I wrote:

For my mother, who always said she seasoned her recipes with marijuana when she really meant marjoram. 

While my character, Annie Pickels, is not like my mother was in many ways, the way my mother mixed up her words led to the what-if premise of the story. What if someone really did use marijuana, by accident, in her recipe for pickles? 

One of the other things I have to credit my mother with was her never-judge-a-book-by-its-cover philosophy. My character, Annie, looks past tattoos and metal piercings on a young man to see the potential and good in him. 

So I am wishing Mom was still around to see what I've done. She would have loved it. Her sense of humor and storytelling is still alive and thriving in the words from my keyboard.