Sunday, August 5, 2018

Character Development

There's a theory in the writing community that in order to make your characters believable, you need to know them inside and out. Some people do character sketches and go way beyond hair and eye color, getting fixated on what caused their internal conflict as well as their external ones.

Each author has a different approach to crafting a new story, so here's mine: I write a beat sheet, a couple sentences for each of the 15 points that will carry the story from start to finish. Then, I write a synopsis, expanding on the beat sheet to make it into two or three pages. I put together a bible if I'm writing a series, but I merely list age, hair and eye color and any distinguishing marks or traits of my characters. Nothing about their conflicts. I want to know the route the story is going to take and I figure out how many miles I can go in a day, but if I have a few detours along the way, or an interesting sight alongside the road attracts my attention and makes me slow the story until I check it out, I'm okay with it.

Every good story needs a cast of characters other then hero/heroine. After all, we all have family, friends, neighbors, business acquaintances, etc. Most of the time, they play bit parts and their time on the pages is minimal. However, there are times when these characters demand to stand up and be counted.

Such is the case with my latest WIP. My hero owned a detective agency and I needed to give him a case other than the big one, to make his agency legit. I chose a philandering husband and a wife with means. Little did I know the mistress would become a character who demanded to be treated not merely for her charms as a courtesan, but as an intelligent, beautiful woman. She quickly morphed from being called Miss Sumptuous Breasts, a casualty of their detective work, to the classic beauty, Anjanette Shelby.

I've had other books where the secondary characters won't leave me alone and I usually write their stories later. Such was the case with my Legend Award winning hero Jake, who first surfaced in Banking On Temperance when he was every bit the gentleman when Temperance spurned him for Basil. Now, before I even go through the editing process and put a spit polish on Remembering Iris, the next Flower Girl novel, my courtesan, Anjanette, is tapping me on the shoulder demanding for her entire story to be written.

Patience, patience Miss Sumptuous Breasts. I'll get to you.


  1. Good insights on how to develop an idea into a story. I love the attention to details. Few things are as annoying as the author's failure to get the little things consistent. Like spelling the heroine's name two different ways. Drives me crazy. I sure hope that you find time to develop Anjanette's story. Sounds very provocative.

  2. She turned out to be a delightful person in this book, so she'll get her moment in the sun, I'm sure. It just may take a while.