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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Getting to know your characters.

Sound like a fun topic? Well sometimes it is and sometimes you have tight-lipped, arrogant, pain-in-the-arse heroes who won’t play fair.

So how do you get them to talk?

Bribe them. Talk dirty to them. Tempt them with chocolate. But whatever you do, don’t ask them about their mothers. Especially the alpha male. He is particularly protective of his personal relationship with his mother. She might have ignored him. Or maybe she demanded too much of him. Regardless of your hero’s “Mommy issues” you must dig deep to find what makes him tick.
When I start a book, the first thing I do is figure out who my characters are. I like to start with the hero. This was the starting point for the hero in my upcoming release, HIGHLAND DRAGON.
Laird Calin MacLeod—28, Dark blond shoulder length hair with braids at the temples; amber eyes.
-To avenge his father’s death.
-Fulfill the vow his father made to Akira’s mother to protect her.
-To unite the clans for purposes of protecting the Isles.

Something else I must know before I start a book is how my hero will curse. For example will he say “God’s hooks!” or “Jesu!” or “Damn the saints!” Maybe he says all three, but there has to be a reason why he says this. If he says “Damn the saints” is it because his grandfather taught him all about the saints when he was growing up?
Another expletive I have to figure out is what will he say when he stubs his toe. In other words, what does he say for “ouch”? Since my hero is Scottish he might say “Ack” or “Och” or “Bluidy hell!”
What does he say when he’s frustrated. A contemporary heroine might say, “Oh my God!” But not my 16th century hero. He might say “Ouish!”
Some of these words you can make up. Some of them you can research. I’ve found some really entertaining lists. This is one of my favorites: http://scribe.faire.net/faqs/Glossary.htm
Last, but certainly not least, I have to find a picture of all my characters prior to their entry into my story. This collage was my vision for HIGHLAND DRAGON.

So how do you develop your characters? What are some attributes you have to know before you can get started?

4-STARS from RT Book Reviews "This is a tale to cherish."


Aislinn said...

Hi! Interesting blog. Your link to the glossary isn't working, though.

I think this is what you wanted: http://scribe.faire.net/faqs/Glossary.Htm

(And if the spam filter doesn't like the fact that I posted a link, you need to capitalize the "h" in htm in your post.)

Nicole North said...

Great post! I also use that list. It's great fun to create insulting names. :)