But we both need to create characters that “fit” into the story line.
Becky: My characters pop into my head and I find myself starting to develop them as the story goes along. Sometimes I don't know them completely until I have finished with the first draft of my book. I keep a blank character profile handy and as I find out something about a character I will write it down. Often by the time the book is done, most of the blanks are filled in. Then I can use that profile as I edit, to either deepen the character or make certain he/she doesn't go off the rails somewhere.
Sue: I have a pretty good idea of my character even before I start writing. But as Becky says, they develop during the writing both physically, mentally and of course, emotionally. Sometimes when I get to the end of a scene or chapter and when I know what has to happen for the plot to progress I find that I have to “give” some new aspect to the character.
Becky: Right. When I first start out I really don’t have a great grasp on how my hero/heroine is going to react until the first problems start to pop up. This comes quite often as I am writing.
Sue: I agree. When the protagonist sees the dead body or example, how do you want this character to react?
Becky: And when they first kiss, what should the reaction be so the story will continue? Do I have them get all mushy and lovey-dovey and suddenly, if this is a romance, the story is over on page 15? Well, of course not. I am going to throw come conflicts and other roadblocks in the way. I want them to have to work to make that romance become a total reality.
Sue: Absolutely. Here is where you have to deepen the emotional and mental aspects of the character, whether the good protagonist or the villain. So I keep a three-ring notebook by my computer. Each character has his/her own page where I am careful to note first their physical appearance and then add personality traits and emotional responses as I develop them in each scene. Little did I know when I started working on my latest cozy that one of the main characters needed to have an eidetic memory…but by the time I got half way through the first draft I realized the plot wouldn’t work unless he could remember certain happenings.
Becky: And little did I know when I first started writing my Dead Man Series that I was going to have one peripheral character who got under my skin and started demanding a bigger role in the story. The funny thing is people who have read the book tell me that he's gotten under their skins as well. I was already halfway through writing book two, so while he plays a role in it, he wasn't the main character. Now I am working on book three, and telling his story.
So speaking of characters... wewould like everyone to know that we are in the final stages of editing our very own character ebook in which we have pulled together all the various elements and factors a writer needs to consider when building and develop his/her characters for their next book. It's in the final editing stages at the moment, so please watch for it on Amazon… it has this catchy title, Creating Memorable Characters, and it will be available sometime in March.
After that, our next ebook is The Plotting Wheel, and every writer who has ever stumbled over a plot problem will love this book. Watch for it sometime this summer.