Posts Tagged ‘characters’


land-of-make-believe

Since an early age, I have had make-believe people in my head.  I know how that sounds and I am willing to admit its psychotic connotations. But quirky, questionable, batshit crazy, or otherwise, it’s the truth.  Psychologists might say I was unhappy and turned to creating an alternate reality to escape the misery of my own world.  But I don’t believe that.  I was a perfectly happy child.  Odd, but happy.  I just liked the idea of making up my own people whose lives I could script and design, and … who would live or die under my ruthless command (insert evil laugh here).

In the beginning of life, I suppose it seemed very normal.  Most kids have imaginary friends and the like… but mine weren’t really what I’d call imaginary friends.  I never interacted with my make-believe people, I just knew all about their lives: their names, jobs, locations, likes and dislikes, etc.  I used to sketch them out, and occasionally, I would put them in little stories, but many of them just sat until, by the time I was a teenager, I had notebooks populated with the profiles of these fictional characters and no idea why, or what to do with them.

By the time I was nearing twenty years old, I’d thrown away my stuffed animals and done away with ninety percent of my childhood fancies.  But one thing never changed: the people living in my head.  As I got older, they became more and more like real-life, three-dimensional human beings.  I suspect that as I matured, I began drawing on the traits of those around me, and those I saw on television.

You’d think that by now, when I sat down to write a story, I’d just pull out an old notebook and pick and choose characters. Instead, however, I’m still coming up with new people all the time. Different stories require different personalities, some of which haven’t yet come to my attention.

One of the most fascinating things about being a fiction writer, in my opinion, is getting into the minds of the characters. I use the word fascinating rather than fun because it isn’t always fun. For example, while writing Beautiful Monster, I was mortified at times to be in Sterling Bronson’s head. I remember frequently asking myself in various situations, What would Sterling do? and shuddering at the thought.

Currently, I am working on two projects. One is The White Room, which I still intend to have finished sometime near the end of summer. I’ve made this manuscript a lot more fun by discovering the joys of third person narrative. In this book, I get to explore multiple points of view, and now that I’ve begun doing it this way,I wonder how on earth I ever wrote from just one character’s perspective. The White Room is full of all kinds of fascinating points of view. There are good guys, villains, victims, sexually deviant women, men with addiction issues, living people, some undead folks, and even a guy with obsessive compulsive personality disorder. I’m seeing the world through several different pairs of eyes and I’ve never had as much fun writing as I am with this one.

The other project I’m working on is much different in a lot of ways. I can’t elaborate on this one too much because it’s still kind of top-secret… but it’s getting written, and it’s going well. For this one,  I am also exploring a few different points of view, but this is a whole new experience because I’m writing from a ten-year-old boy’s point of view…as well as a very old woman’s. This project is teaching me new things, expanding me in fascinating ways, and forcing me to stick to the point as it’s not intended to be a full length novel.

Having learned to see one story through the eyes of multiple characters has shown me new layers to the stories, as well as cleared up numerous issues I’ve had with past manuscripts which never reached completion. To be honest, I don’t know if I will ever return to first person…unless, of course, it seriously benefits a story I’m writing.

Anyway, I’d love to hear from readers and other writers on this topic. I’d like to know what readers love–and hate–about characters. I’d also love to hear from other writers about their process in character development.

Thanks for reading!

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The actor Ted Levine (Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs) once said that playing the crazy parts are easy…it’s the “normal” roles that are tough to pull off. At the time I saw that interview, I found the statement only moderately interesting, and, having no especial interest in acting, forgot about it. Recently however, that statement has made its way back into my awareness in relation to my writing.

When I wrote Sterling Bronson in Beautiful Monster, I had no trouble with him at all. I always found this a little worrisome…how could someone so heinous be so easy for me to write…what does that say about me and the workings of my mind? As I delve back into my previous novel, formerly known as The White Room though, I understand things a little differently.

When I’m writing an over-the-top character like Sterling Bronson, it’s easier for me and here’s why: he is extreme. When Sterling does something, he over-does it. If he wants something, he needs it. Whenever he reacts to something, he over-reacts to it. When I’m writing a “normal” person, though, it gets trickier.

I’m currently writing a semi-“normal” character named Cade Jacobi. He is a nineteen-year-old bookish type, with a naive, juvenile streak to him. What he wants more than anything is to be like his older brother. What he doesn’t see, of course, is that he is far better off than his brother, and that sometimes the greatest pain is wrapped in the prettiest packages. This is something Cade has to learn the hard way. Cade has his own personality and I’ve tried to keep him real, but unlike Sterling Bronson, I care if people like Cade. I worry that people need to like him, whereas, with Sterling, I never cared if he pissed people off. He was supposed to (and based on some of the letters we’ve received, he’s done a fine job! Ha!)

So while writing Cade, I find myself constantly toeing that thin line between keeping him real, and keeping him likable. Too often, in an attempt to write likable characters, writers populate their novels with cardboard cut-outs of real-life people who possess cookie-cutter kindness and whose only real flaws are that they trust too much, love too deeply, or give more than they can afford to. Just as no villain can be entirely without any soft spots, no hero is without his or her flaws, otherwise, it’s melodrama and it doesn’t feel real.

The solution, I’m finding out, is to simply “trust the process.” Let the character’s be themselves, likable or not, and just let them tell their story. As it is in the real world, no one can be liked by everyone. I believe this holds true for folks of the fictional persuasion as well. I hope people will like Cade, I really do, but if not, it’s not my business to worry about. I’m giving him my best effort and I’m maintaining his integrity; if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. The real trouble with “normal” people is that they are layered; they are human (or close to it anyway), and this is what makes them interesting. They’re just a hell of a lot harder to write.


You’d think that after spending the countless hours, days, weeks and months required to write a novel, you’d get to relax. You did your research, developed your story, and invested almost all of your free time into writing it. Now 80 to 120 thousand words later, it would be nice to be able to call it finished. Unfortunately, the hard part is just beginning. Now it’s time to reread, revise and rehash.

Although this is not my favorite part of the writing process, it certainly isn’t the worst. Revisions are a good opportunity to strengthen story, add necessary detail, and perhaps most important of all, cut the fat.

I’ve learned that there are a few key things to look for in the editing process. One of them is character consistency. Are the characters solid? Do they remain true to their base nature throughout the story, and if the character goes through personal changes, are they believable? In Gallery of Dolls (the project formerly known as ‘An Evil Heart’), this wasn’t too big of a problem. My main character was very clear to me from the beginning and I was happy to see that he remained pretty true to himself throughout. There were a few lines of dialogue though, that when reread, didn’t sound like him. These, luckily, are easy fixes.

Plot consistency and holes in the plot are another, and probably the worst, potential good-story-destroyers that are commonly found in the revision process. Rereading Gallery of Dolls, Kim (my co-author) and I discovered some interesting issues. Hearing the story front to back, we think we may have to move the meeting of our two characters up a couple of chapters. This means some very serious rewriting and I am hoping that once we have a few outsiders read the story, it won’t be as big of an issue as I am afraid of. Beyond that, we found minor inconsistencies. I will need to go in and add a couple new scenes to smooth some transition but that’s about the worst of it.

Another thing to look for in revisions are wasted words. I tend to reiterate. And reiterate. This is a very bad habit that needs to stop. But that’s what revisions are for. It never ceases to amaze me how much stronger a sentence can become by taking away from it rather than adding to it. Adverbs are a fine example of this… but I’ll get into that later.

Also, a lot of what you find in revisions are total surprises. When we reread Gallery of Dolls, we found an unusual likeness in the names of our characters: almost all of them started with a C. We had Courtney, Cassidy, Claire, Connie, Claudia, Cassandra, and Carlisle the cop. We don’t know how or why this happened, but there it is. Again, this is an easy fix. We have since changed several of the names.

The last thing I like to do in revisions is assassinate the adverbs. Not all adverbs are bad, of course, but when it comes to these cute little verb modifiers, a little goes a long way. In my first drafts, I never worry too much about them. Personally, I love adverbs, but it really is true that there is usually (<—-see? adverbs!) a finer way of saying what you meant without them, so the last thing I do is an “ly” search in my document. I go through each adverb and see if there isn’t an opportunity for more powerful phrasing.

Like it or not, revisions are a necessary part of (good) writing. Many people are intimidated by the process. Others believe they are golden enough that their work requires no revision. Personally, I try to write clean first drafts in order to keep editing to a minimum, but the fact remains that in order to get the book written, you need to sit down and actually write it. In order for me to do this, I have to try my best to minimize or eliminate the need to edit as I go. If I am editing as I go… I am usually not going at all. It’s a slippery slope.

The worst part about revisions in my opinion, is that after reading your story over and over, it loses its shine and numbs you out until it’s impossible to even tell if the story is any good. I think this is a good time to put the story down for a while and pick it up when you can view it with semi-fresh eyes again. That’s where I’m at right now. I need to not look at it for a couple of weeks. Our goal is to have it presentable by October, so if I take one or two more weeks away from it, we should easily be able to attain it. Till then… I’ll be thinking of the next story…

Write (and revise) on! And remember….

 


     Although all stories are vastly different from each other, there is a basic formula to all storytelling that must take place. In essence, even though subject matter, characterization, setting and plot can vary immensely from story to story, every story has the same skeletal layout.

     There are four parts to every story. The first is the introduction. In this, you establish the norm; you decide what normal life is like for the characters in your story and give the reader a feel for what every day life is like in the world you’ve created. In the second segment of storytelling comes the introduction of the conflict. Here, the writer introduces the problems or problem the character is about to be faced with. The third part of the story is the climax. This is where your characters’ challenges reach their peak and the ultimate confrontation takes place. The climax is the beginning of the end… and the end of course, is the resolution… where the challenges are resolved.

     Right now, I am in mid-climax! The joint effort book I am writing with Kim Williams-Justesen has finally reached its peak. You’d think that this would be my favorite part of storytelling, but the truth is, it’s not. The climax always stresses me out and I much rather prefer the introduction because there, you can take your time and lie back to let the characters reveal themselves and their situations at their leisure.  In the climax, there isn’t room for wasted words. The climax, for me, is the most tedious part of the story because it’s so limited in its spectrum of possibility. After all, you can’t write two hundred and fifty pages leading up to a certain point and suddenly take a left turn. The climax is why readers have stuck with you, and it’s at the story’s peak that they want action, intensity and emotional potency; and after all the time they’ve invested in your story, you owe them that satisfaction.

Another reason why writing the climax is difficult for me is because it feels like goodbye. For some reason, the resolution doesn’t make me sad… the climax does. You’ve spent hours and hours agonizing over these characters. You’ve spent days and days getting to know them and understanding them on the most intimate levels. You’ve spent months trying to tell their story in a way that not only satisfies you, but also does your characters’ justice, and will hopefully keep the readers’ interest. And now… everything you’ve been building up to is reaching its peak and coming to a quick close.

In the project I am working on now, my co-author and I are writing alternating chapters and the resolution isn’t mine to tell. The character I am writing disappears and it is Kim’s character who gets the resolution. I am on my last chapter. In twelve to fifteen pages, my character Sterling Bronson, who has been in the making for over eight months, will be no more.  I am moving out-of-state in two and a half weeks, so there won’t even be any chance of prolonging the goodbye… savoring it. Kim and I have sixteen days to wrap this baby up and say goodbye to it, and this, for me, is the hardest aspect of writing.

After resolving the story, there are of course revisions. These can take days, weeks or even months, depending on the condition of the first draft. In a way, this is still spending time with the characters and the story, but it isn’t the same as that first time around, when everything was new and you were excited to see what shape it would all take.

The end of the story is sad, there’s no doubt about that, and there is only one way I know to combat that sadness, and that is to start the next one and begin the process all over again.

So needless to say… that’s what I’ll be doing!

Happy climax!


    

     I don’t believe it’s possible to not be creative.  While some people may deem themselves “artists”, and others may think they don’t have a creative bone in their bodies, the only difference between these two groups, in my opinion, is their opposing senses of self-perception. But the truth is, we are human and we create… whether we mean to, whether we want to… or not.

     I’ve come to believe that, with or without our consent, the mind refuses to not be creative in some form or another, and that if creativity is suppressed, it will find whatever cracks it can to seep through and get the message to us. One of the most fascinating ways the mind tricks us into being creative is through our dreams.

     I read an article a while back in which Stephenie Meyer said that one night she had a dream about a girl in a forest with a boy. The girl was heartbroken and didn’t know what to do because she was in love with him but knew they couldn’t be together because he was a vampire and she was human. When she woke up, she wrote down what she could remember from the dream, and then started asking questions like how did the couple get into the forest, and where were they going from there. And that is how the whole Twilight series began.

     I have a friend who is a writer and he gets many of his ideas from a recurring dream where he is in a bookstore. In the dream, he is surrounded by books he has never seen or heard of. He browses books and reads the premise on the back covers, then when he wakes up, he takes those ideas and begins writing them.

    My own dreams generally make little to no sense, but once in a while, I dream something that either solves a major problem in my story for me, or gives me an entirely new story idea, proving to me that being uncreative is not possible. One dream in particular stands out to me as a good example of how the mind’s need to be creative imposes its will upon us.

     In this dream, I was in a monster-sized Barnes and Noble. I say monster-sized because it had to have been a thirty story building, and it was full of books. Rows and rows of books. Wall to wall, ceiling to floor books. It was beautiful. But that’s beside the point. I was sitting near a window at a small table by myself. I knew I was waiting for someone, but I didn’t know who. For some reason, in this dream anyway, that made perfect sense.

     A boy approached my table. I guess he wasn’t a boy really, but more of a young man. I remember looking up and being a bit stunned by this guy’s ornamental appearance. He had curly blond hair, eerily flawless skin, perfect teeth, and he seemed to exist inside a golden globe of light that somehow radiated from inside him. I knew this was the person I had been waiting for.

    The guy sat down and introduced himself. He told me his name was Alejandro. I remember being a little confused by his name. He didn’t look like an “Alejandro” to me, but whatever, I figured~ not my business. He was very cordial and smiled at me non-stop. He reached into a bag that he had apparently brought with him and pulled out a few sheets of paper that were stapled together. I looked it over and realized it was a resume of sorts.

    At some point, I realized I was giving this guy some sort of employment interview. He seemed eager to get the job, and although I don’t remember specifics, he went into a long monologue about his experience and the ways it would benefit me if I hired him. As he spoke, I noticed he had golden halos around the irises of his eyes. I asked him about them and he told me he was an angel who wanted to be the star character in my next story.

     I don’t remember anything else that we talked about; the details of the conversation were lost as soon as I woke up, but I guess I must have decided to “hire him”, because about a week later, I got this great idea about an angel whose original  mission is intercepted, landing him in a trailer park in Podunk, America where he must learn what it means to interact as a human, to help others as a human, and above all, to find and maintain his faith as a human.

     This dream was one of the most compelling and fascinating moments in my life. I would have never thought the mind, especially when unconscious, could conjure up and direct such effective methods of creative execution. Since dreaming this, I have looked deeper into the phenomenon of dreams and have found an astounding number of artists and creators who have pulled details from a dream and made it into something tangible in the waking world.

     All human beings are artists;  just being alive makes you an artist in your own right. I believe that the human mind will stop at nothing to find an outlet for creativity and that eventually, that need for creativity will stop taking no for an answer, and one way or another, whether conscious or unconscious, we will all be forced, by one means or another, to leave tangible strands of our inherent, creative DNA on the face of this planet. Creating is not our talent. It is not our right and it isn’t even our duty. Creating is our nature.

     Write on, and…


     No matter how many times I hear writers state that they don’t know where their ideas come from (“they just kind of come to me…”) I don’t buy it.  Maybe they don’t want to give their secrets away, or maybe they are trying to convince their audience that their minds are so enigmatic that they defy logical explanation, or maybe they’re just incredibly unaware of themselves; I don’t know, but any way I look at it, I think the answer to that question is simple.  Ideas come from people.  And more more specifically, (fictional) people come from (real-life) people.  At least, that’s the way it’s always been in my case.  To a point.

     While I have never created a character that was based entirely on anyone I knew, I have relentlessly and unapologetically stolen little pieces of my friends, my family, my neighbors, my childhood friends, the lady at Wal-Mart with the thigh highs and hair rollers, and the most obvious of all, myself.   I have taken their eyes, their wit, their courage, their pride, and in some cases, I have even taken their heinousness.  Often times I have done this unconsciously, and only after having brought the character to full form, read him or her back to myself and said, “Wow.  This guy is just like cousin Bobby!”   Other times, I see some trait or personality quirk in a person and am writing it down right away, already knowing exactly which character to assign that quality to.  No matter which way it’s done, I like to think of this as (politely) kidnapping my friends. 

     To (politely) kidnap your friends, you must first of all be subtle about it.  Remember, you’re a thief in the night, not the paparazzi.  To follow people around, notebook and pen at the ready, will not do.  Nor will photographing complete strangers (unless you’re really smooth about it), feigning a heart attack to test their level of emergency response, showing an overt sexual interest in their spouse to assess their level of temper, or confiding to anyone, friend or not, “I’ve killed a man… but don’t tell anyone,” to gauge their degree of trustworthiness. 

     To (politely) kidnap your friends, you must be respectful.  Sometimes, your rapport with someone is such that you can point at the interesting trait or physical attribute, wave the pointed finger Karen Walker-style and say, “I like that.  I’m going to take it,” and it’s all good.  Other times, depending on the singularity or uniqueness of the trait, you may feel you need to ask permission.  However, more often than not, I think the key to successfully (politely) kidnapping your friends lies in the imagination it takes to tweak the desired quality enough that by the end, it is, if not entirely unrecognizable, at least doctored up enough that it feels unique to the character you’ve assigned it to.

     That being said, I’ve broken all of these rules myself.  The good news is, no one has legal claim to eye color, sense of humor, height, sincerity levels, etc… even names are pretty much up for grabs.  Still, I do think it’s important that, when fashioning a character after someone you know, you do so in a way that when people ask you, “where do you get your ideas?!”, you can smile knowingly, and confidently answer, “I don’t know… they just kind of come to me…” 

     I don’t know why it’s important, but it must be…


     I’m learning that character development is less about conscious endeavor and more about letting your characters “tell” you about themselves.  When I first heard other writers talk about this phenomenon, I thought it was silly.  I couldn’t understand how a character could make their own choices, choose their own voice or, in more extreme cases, shape the plot according to their own agendas.  I feel very differently about that now.  Now I understand exactly what other writers are talking about when they say things like, “Oh, my characters just kind of take on a life all their own,” or, “Well, I intended to kill so and so, but the bastard simply refused to die!” 

     When a character begins to tell you his or her own story, it is an experience that borders on being eerie.  It’s foreign.  It is an almost supernatural anomaly.  After all, when a person that you created begins dictating to you what needs to happen, you tend to question your sanity.  For the most part, however, I’ve come to understand this as a natural, albeit strange, part of the creative process.  Once you get past the surprise of being given orders by an imaginary personality, and if you dare to let it take you where it wants to go, it won’t matter anymore where the “voices” are coming from; all that matters is that somehow, it works. 

     That being said, I also know that I must keep a close eye on my characters.  You can’t let them run the show entirely.  Some of them are helpful to the plot while others are untrustworthy and will manipulate the story to become all about themselves.  I try to let the characters do a lot of the talking while simultaneously keeping a close watch on the plot to be sure we don’t veer too far off into left field.

     Overall, my experiences with the characters tops the list of my favorite things about writing fiction.  I love the little surprises each character brings to the story and nothing makes me happier than when one of them does something so off the wall that even I didn’t see it coming.  I am a little bit in love with all of my characters and I think that’s important.  If you are writing a novel, you will be spending an awful lot of time with each of these guys, and if you hate them at a base level, it’s bound to be a most unpleasant experience.

     Right now, I am writing the most difficult character I’ve ever had to before.  He goes by the name of Sterling Bronson and he is violent and dark… he is all of the things we are taught not to be.  Since my time with this character hasn’t reached completion, I am currently blind to the methods with which I will have to deal with him.  So instead of focusing on him, I will go back to the major players of The White Room, where I can, in hindsight, more clearly give a brief synopsis of my experience with each of them.

     Cadence Walker ~ This is probably my oldest character.  Although he has evolved substantially since then, he was first conceived of in the mid-nineties when I first began trying to write fiction.  He was also my easiest character and I think that’s because he’s a lot like myself.  I had no trouble finding, and for the most part maintaining his voice once I sat down to write the story.

     Brooks Jacobi ~ Brooks is by far my favorite character.  He seems to be a kind of hybrid between my best friend growing up, and that more irresponsible, less stressed side of my own nature.  The first scene I ever “saw” from The White Room was one of Brooks’ scenes, so in a sense, he kicked the whole project off and got the ball rolling.  For the story’s sake, Brooks had to be Cadence’s polar opposite and I worried that they might somehow bleed into each other and become indistinguishable, but Brooks maintained his integrity throughout, making my job a whole lot easier.  I feel there is a lot more to Brooks than I was able to cover in the span of one book, and since writing the words “The End”, I have been unsuccessfully trying to find ways of revisiting him.

     Aunt Mimi ~ In spite of being a religious zealot as well as a forgetful and hopeless alcoholic, Aunt Mimi is a basic, static character set in place for the sole purpose of moving the plot.  What’s interesting about her is that she was a complete surprise.  I didn’t write her into the outline but when she showed up, I just felt I needed to trust her and I’m glad I did.  She was the most fun to write.  If anyone close to me ever saw me typing and giggling away at my laptop, I would personally guarantee it was an Aunt Mimi scene I was writing.

     Sheila Leventis ~ Like Aunt Mimi, Sheila was a surprise.  Her main purpose in this story was to support the main characters and the plot.  I deliberately gave her no real zest.  She was a quiet character who let the story work around her.  Even at the end, she was probably the only one who really never knew what was going on.

     Michal ~ This was the hardest character for me.  I had a hard time keeping consistency with him.  At times, he was this hip psuedo-cowboy type while at other times, he was a kind of wise, fatherly type.  Of all my characters, Michal was the one who, more than once, forced me to rewrite entire scenes.  In the beginning, he spoke in articulate, proper sentences.  By the end, he was like, “So, hey… ya wanna talk?”  It wouldn’t do of course, so I ended up having to revise him to the point I really just kind of wanted him to die.  But I love him… he ended up being a good character.

     Winter ~ This guy was awesome.  Winter just kind of came to me fully-formed one day and said, “Hey, here I am.  Do something with me.”  He became an integral part of the story on top of being a lot of fun to write.  Winter gave me no grief.  He was compliant, professional and well-rounded.  Of all the characters, Winter is the one I could most easily and naturally continue with.  He seems to have a story all his own and I think he wants it told.  Maybe one day…

     Gretchen ~ While Michal was hard to write because his personality was difficult to pin down, Gretchen was hard for very different reasons.  She came to me a long time ago, fully-formed and ready for action.  Her original purpose as far as I was concerned was to simply make an appearance and die in a way that moved the story into the more multi-layered recesses of plot.  However… that’s not at all what happened.  This character was one the ones I warned you about, one of the untrustworthy ones.  Persnickety to the point of maddening, Gretchen gave me more hell than any other character.  For one thing, she went through about seven name changes before finding the one that “felt” right.  Secondly, she nearly became the central figure of the story, moving the plot this way and that until it was so tightly wrapped around her that I had to consciously reel it in and redirect my focus.  In short, Gretchen is a diva and given an inch, she would have taken six miles.  I had to limit her voice while at the same time recognizing the value of the places this character wanted to go.  Although she evolved into much more than she was originally intended to be, and moved the story into entirely unexpected directions, it ended up being okay.  But I was wise to keep her on a short leash.

     Sebastian ~ This guy was fun.  I don’t remember exactly where he came from but shortly after Gretchen was developed, he was there, waiting to be heard.  Sebastian became an important player in the plot and he was natural and easy to write.  I like characters like him.

     Jazminka ~ It all started with the boots.  About fifteen years ago, I had this strange dream about a woman wearing the most insanely strange pair of thigh-high boots I had ever seen.  Among their other oddities, these boots had sharp, steel heels that made these incredibly ominous thudding sounds when she walked.  I never forgot those boots and when I first contrived the character Jazminka, I thought it would be awesome to put her in them.  Shortly after that, it occurred to me that these boots would make great weapons.  One of the first things I knew about Jazminka was that she could kill a man in less than seven seconds without spilling a single drop of blood… with her boots.  So Jazminka was easily designed around that deadly footwear I dreamed of as a teenager.  It was nice to pull something from a dream because I didn’t even have to think about it.  Her hair, however, was another story.  I wanted to give her a crew cut but was promptly told, “hell no”, and “don’t you dare”, by the few (and the brutally honest) who were critiquing my manuscript as it was being written.  Reluctantly, I gave her an ’80’s bouffant.

     Angel ~ This character was just full of surprises.  He began as a kind of filler, just there to people the story and then BAM!… he became something I hadn’t at all intended.

     Veritas ~ There wasn’t really much room for this poor guy.  He was well-formed in my mind but unfortunately didn’t get much of a part, although the part he did get was definitely memorable.

    Mahallia ~ My least favorite character.  Mahallia was an afterthought and I never liked her.  She came to be because Veritas’ part was so suddenly minimized and I needed a way to move through the end.  If this book never sees the shelf of a bookstore, I will always blame Mahallia…

     And so… this has been my experience in character development thus far.  I am still learning and growing and it’s my hope that I will continue to have as much fun in the future as I continue on this journey.  I understand fictional characters in a way I never thought I would.  The ins and outs of the people who drive our stories surprise and delight me at every turn.  As I said, getting to know the characters is my favorite part about writing fiction.  The characters will make or break a story, they will surprise us by playing parts we hadn’t intended.  Some will bring value to the story while others, if allowed, will sabotage it… but of all the things I’ve learned about character development, what surprises me most is that, crazy as it sounds… they really do have minds of their own.