This month’s Round Robin topic is: how do you go about developing your characters for a story? How much time do you spend or does it just happen in the writing process? What inspires it?
My Character Process
I don’t really have a character process. They develop on their own. Yup. I’m a pantser. Always have been. Although I seem to have a sense of who the character is when I start writing the story, they will, more often than not, surprise me. Not necessarily turn from good to evil, but respond to a situation in a way that I hadn’t considered. This helps keep the story fresh.
Sometimes, though, I think this not having a character process slows down my writing process. They can be fickle and don’t always have regular visitation hours. Instead, they’ll show up at the most inopportune times (while I’m showering, about to fall asleep, driving in the car, etc.) and have the attention span of a two-year-old. (Maybe that’s me. LOL) It makes for slow going.
I’m currently working on an older story that I started back in 2007. The character’s name is Tammy. She’s sarcastic, funny, smart, and a bit jaded. She’s also a world class triathlete who is in desperate need of a good lay. LOL This story was inspired, in part, by my honeymoon in Tahiti. I loved it so much I had to write about it. Yes, I do dream of staying in one of those huts over the water someday. 😀
An excerpt from Tahitian Nights:
“Think about it, Tammy. Two whole weeks of hot men in skimpy clothes on white beaches in Tahiti. Now if that doesn’t appeal to you, you’re dead,” my sister said. Her hands planted firmly on her hips, she faced me like a drill sergeant in front of her new recruits, daring me to say, “No”.
“No.” I couldn’t help myself. Any scheme concocted by Cassandra always spelled trouble for me. The answer was reflexive and utter self-preservation.
“Oh, come on. This time will be different.”
“That’s what you said the time we went to Hawaii.” I lost my favorite pair of shoes and all of the brand-new beach clothes I’d bought to go on that trip. On top of that, the lovely beachfront community she’d promised we were staying in was actually a nudist colony. My eyes were scarred for life after seeing a ninety-year-old man frolicking on the beach with his equally old partner. Shudder. “And what about the time you claimed the trip to Idaho was a relaxing ski vacation. What happened?”
“We spent the time roping cattle, but the men were hot.” She smiled at me, her blue eyes twinkled.
“Which you enjoyed, but I ended up with a broken leg stuck in the bunks with no company for two weeks and then I had to fly home in a cast. Do you have any idea how uncomfortable coach is in a cast? Not to mention, the six weeks of an itchy leg.”
“I tell you what. If you don’t have fun, and shag at least one gorgeous man, I will personally refund your entire trip.”
“Oh, come on, Tammy, don’t be a spoilsport,” she whined.
“I prefer to think of it as intelligence. I am perfectly capable of arranging my own vacations,” I said.
“Ah, yes, the zero vacations you’ve taken in three years. Mm… those were wonderful vacations.”
In some nebulous region of my brain, warning bells rang. That tone of voice never boded well for me. “Don’t even consider involving Mom in this one, Cass,” I warned.
An evil glint made her eyes glitter like sun reflecting off of Tahitian waters, or so I assumed Tahitian waters would look when I arrived for that look told me I had no choice. The grin she shot me was smug. “I already told Mom about our wonderful vacation. She’s starting to anticipate grandchildren.”
The trill of laughter that filled the air sent shivers down my spine. Gah! Sometimes my sister was pure evil. Charming, but evil. “So, if I go, what’s in it for you?”
From evil plotter to innocent in five seconds flat. My sister the chameleon. “Oh, nothing.”
“Uh-huh. There’s always something in it for you. You’ve left me alone for the past three years. What victim said ‘no’ before you came to me?”
She remained silent.
This was my sister’s MO. She generally only contacted me, outside of family get-togethers, when she needed, or wanted, something, although she did, on occasion, surprise me with a sweet, thoughtful gesture. It’s something I secretly bemoaned. Even though we fought, and she manipulated me, the hope that she’d change into that perfect Hollywood sister kept me coming back.
“All right, now that we’ve established I am officially blackmailed into going,” she grinned at me again, “where exactly am I going and what is it going to cost me?” I asked her. This would be painful. Everything associated with my sister was painful.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. And I hope Tammy will continue to talk to me so that I can finish this story. I sure want to know how it turns out with her and Brandon (and her sister, too.)
What is your process for creating a character? Do you write down an in-depth dossier? Or are you like me and let them reveal themselves to you?
Please visit the other authors who are participating in this month’s and find out how their characters come to life:
I’m hoping with you that Tammy will continue to develop – she sounds like an interesting character.
I’ve been going through and revising a bit to round her out more. Maybe that will get her talking to me again.
While mostly a plotter, I identified with the writing and characters taking change because that’s what happens with my writing. My characters often throw out my well laid out plans.
I immediately sympathized with Tammy and see disaster approaching, but hopefully with some great side benefits.
Yeah, disaster strikes, but she does get some great benefits. Now, to see how the story ends up. I’m really curious. LOL
Loved your excerpt, Marci. This is instant characterization, the personality leaping off the page.
Thanks, Bob. This is from page 1. 🙂
Sibling conflict. Brings out the worst and the best in us all. Tammy sounds like she will find her way and you’ll finish that novel!
It does. Probably because we have less filters when it comes to our family than other people.
Hi Marci. so similar to my own experience. sometimes it does take a while to recover control. Anne
It sure does, Anne. They can be very recalcitrant. 😀
Characters are my favorite part of writing too. I think sometimes it’s my brain dredging up all the people I’ve met in real life and pinpointing the ones I found the most interesting.
Hahaha! I’m hoping that’s not the case with some of my characters. LOL There are a few who are pretty scary, and paranormal. 😀
I may not always know where my story is going, but I need to think about the characters a lot before I start the novel. I need to know them, hear them, picture them, and feel the way they feel or I just can’t get on with the writing.
I get that. I think I spend more time with them than I realize. Last night, before going to sleep, Tammy was talking to me. Alas, I was too tired to do anything with it.
I can relate to your approach to writing and Tammy is a very interesting character.
She is an interesting to character with a lot of internal commentary that rarely sees the light of day. LOL
Good luck, Marci! Tammy sounds scrappy, so hopefully you can keep tagging along and finding out what she’s up to!
Tammy is scrappy, Rachael. It’s one of the many things I like about her. She also has a good sense of humor, which is essential in this book.
I always enjoy getting to know my characters. I’m like you, in that they reveal themselves gradually, as I write. Sometimes I feel like they are the ones in control of my fingers typing, not me!
Fun excerpt. I don’t have a sister, but this one sounds like a real troublemaker. Wonder how their trip will turn out?
Well, some of it is good; some of it is not so good. LOL Thanks for stopping by, Fiona. 🙂
Yikes! This site didn’t like my email address and deleted my comment. Grrr. I too am a pantser and have literally pulled off the highway to write an idea which came to me driving. We pantsers are in good company, although it probably takes us longer to write a book because of going down the rabbit holes?
I’m sorry about that, Judy, and sorry it took me so long to respond. I had to wade through 700+ spam messages to find it. (sigh)
Yeah, those rabbit holes can be time consuming, but also exciting. 🙂
Better late than never! Thanks for replying