After I finish a novel, I try to move on to the next one as soon as possible. Some people think I’m prolific, but what I really am is scared. I’m afraid that I might lose this writing “mo-jo” that I’ve conjured up during the past couple of years. I’m afraid my characters will leave me high and dry and not talk to me any more. No, I’m no schizophrenic, I don’t actually hear voices, but in a strange way, characters tell me what they will and won’t do.
In the first place, where do these characters come from? My imagination? I suppose, but if I’m truly honest, I must say most of them are parts of me and other parts come from other people I’ve met or admired. For my first novel, I wrote character character sketches because it was my way of “meeting them.” I needed to be formally introduced to the folks, so we could get to know each other, and I could write their stories.
There are certain elements that readers needs to know about characters they meet in books. There are basics: What does the character look like? How old is he or she? Is there anything physically that makes him or her unique? How do they feel about important events in the story? What is their goal? Is there something in the past that holds them back or inspires them to succeed? Once you know all of these things about the people who end up in your novel, believe me, they begin talking.
Finally,well-rounded characters have strengths and flaws. They may do bad things to protect someone or they may do good things that turn out badly. They may have unpopular opinions or do unacceptable things. Readers usually want to love them or hate them. As a writer, I hold the power over all of them, even though most of the time they call the shots.