Friday, January 25, 2013

Writing A Novel: When Characters Come To Life

When outlining a story, I put a lot of thought into my main characters so that I can make them seem as realistic as possible. However, sometimes a secondary character will surprise by taking on a life of its own.

In BAND GEEK, this happened with the characters Ken and Lenny. Ken was originally meant to just be mentioned in passing and did something very bad to Lana, but ended up becoming a pivotal part of the story. He also turned out to be very likeable as time went on. Lenny was written as a comedic character, but he ended up having a lot of heart ... and he has one serious scene, which gives him a bit more depth.

In my latest novel, I'm really starting to like the character Rachael, who's one of Griffin's sisters. He has three younger sisters -- Rachael, Deborah and Judith, named for my cousin and two sisters-in-law, respectively -- and I originally intended for them to have very small roles in the book. As I wrote for Rachael, though, she developed more and more of a personality -- as is quickly becoming one of my favorites.

What I like about her is that she's strong, outspoken and opinionated, even though she's only 14. She's not the oldest sibling in her family, but she is the oldest girl and is extremely protective of her loved ones. She's a bit of an idealistic and will stand up for what she believes in.

Though I'm an only child, I have plenty of friends with siblings and in most cases, the oldest girl has a certain role in the family. The sister of my childhood friend, Lani, is seven years older than her and seemed like an adult to me when we were growing up. Now that I'm 38, a seven-year difference isn't that big of a deal, but at 15, she'd babysit for us and was so maternal. She was almost like a second mother to Lani and readily accepted the responsibility of looking out for her little sister.

One of my other friends has three sisters and though she's technically not the oldest in terms of age, she's the "oldest" in regards to attiude. My friend is the one who helps organize family dealings, handles family crises and has the shoulders that everyone cries on. Again, she's very maternal and take-charge, and is deeply protective of her siblings.

I guess I was thinking of these women as I wrote Rachael since she has some of their traits. I know that it may seem strange to say that a character "takes on a life" of her own; after all, she's my creation. But even your own writing can surprise you and go in a different direction than what you'd planned. Most writers have experienced this at some point and if you spend a lot of time writing, you probably will, as well.

I'm really pleased with how my recent chapter turned out because it covers a significant event in my novel. I just hope that I can find more motivation in the coming days so that I can continue!

Please read and review my first novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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