I”m often asked what triggers the spark that sets my characters’ lives in motion?
Well, first of all, don’t confuse me with them. True, Melanie and I are both small town journalists, but there the similarity ends. Besides, I’ve always maintained real people are too dull to use as characters in fiction. I can’t think of a single persons I know, including me, who is worthy of adorning a book page.
It takes spunk and spark and that little bit of something extra to be a player in a novel. It also requires quirky friends and family members often willing to behave outrageously to make a story entertaining. Take Melanie’s father. He’s so protective of his only child he’d gladly lock her in her room to keep her safe. As it is, he doesn’t hesitate to yank a murder story out of her hands.
And then turn your attention to Ginger Black, Melanie’s cohort in their crime solving adventures. She always comes along with an agenda all her own, and she’s not shy about telling people what it is, either.
Also consider Josh Devon and Alan Larkin, two men who would both do whatever it took to keep Melanie safe. Both of them are willing to stand behind her. Yet each of them walks a different path to reach that goal. And each of them is uncomfortably aware of the other.
But for me, mostly, my characters just spring to life. I’ve read about writers who build an entire life history before committing their first word to the page. I couldn’t imagine writing that way. Rather, I let the characters introduce themselves as I write. They don’t seem to be at all shy about filling their history in for me, either.
So I guess I have to include the word pushy as a character requirement. Or shy. Sometimes I come across a shy one. Still, when I get them alone in a corner, they’ll often whisper interesting little tidbits about themselves in my ear. But most of all I have to like them. I have to feel that they’re someone I’d like to know more about. Even the villain must be a character I care about on some level.
So that’s where my characters come from. They spring to life as they are needed with goals and dreams and pursuits all their own and all firmly in place without any help from me. I mean, could they possibly make my writing life any easier or more fun?