Breathing Life and Depth into Characters (post by Anna)
Every character needs a purpose — in the story and in his or her own life — to become a believable and relatable person. How do writers breathe life and depth into characters? Check out my method, with my current work-in-progress as an example.
Once the second book in the Hot Scots series, Wicked in a Kilt, was released in September, I began to get excited about writing the third book. I had the title — Scandalous in a Kilt — and I knew some facts about the hero, Rory MacTaggart. I introduced him in Dangerous in a Kilt and, via his younger brother Aidan, provided some background for him in Wicked. The heroine for Scandalous, however, started out as an amorphous American. I let my standard method for developing characters kick in, giving the task over to my subconscious. Gradually, she took shape in my mind.
I still don’t have a name for the poor girl. I just started planning this book a few weeks ago, so cut me some slack here, please! 🙂 I do know an awful lot about her, though. She needed to be the counterpoint to Rory, a work-obsessed lawyer with a thing for rules and order. He’s uptight, so she needed to be a bit free-wheeling. I made her a computer programmer who’s always felt constricted by her life of doing the responsible thing. So when she’s laid off from her job, she takes off on a spontaneous vacation to New Orleans and has a one-night stand with a hot Scot. Naturally, it turns into more than one night!
This heroine is more than Rory’s way out of his fun-free life. She’s on a quest to find her own purpose in life and dive headlong into any adventure she can find. And oh yeah, she’s kind of known for her love of racy Halloween costumes.
Just before writing this post, I browsed computer programmer jobs online. Time to find her a job that provides the total drudgery from which she needs to break free. Having a believable past, and a reason for changing her life, gives this and every heroine I write real depth and life. And that’s what makes a story fun!
Shh…Don’t tell Rory his story is supposed to be fun. Let’s let him figure that out on his own. 🙂