Sunday, September 30, 2012
THE BIRTH OF A CHARACTER
As an author we are responsible for the birth of a character. It's something I can relate to as a mother of three. Birth is a beautiful thing. It usually takes nine months to make a human being. That's not long considering the amazing genetic code that goes into this new being.
But the characters in a story are slightly different. You can't exactly hold them in your arms like you would a newborn, yet there is something so similar that pulls on your heartstrings. Really, when I create characters for my books, I don't just pull genetic code out of a hat.
How does it happen? Well for me, it's all about people I've met in my life. The good the bad and the ugly. Now that's not meant to be an insult. I use everything from hair color to temperament and I usually do it blindly. Yes, that's part of the fun.
When I start a book, I usually don't have a clue what it will be about. It's like tapping into some foreign part of my mind that is seldom used. Birthing characters fall into that same category. I never know who will be the lead character, or the villain, or who will fall in love.
I guess you can say I study people and then I store them in the back of my mind so that one day, when it's time to write that book, out pops the correct character. And I do think there is some divine intervention. I don't mean to be arrogant about that either. I don't think I'm God or anything like that. What I do think is that all my stories belong to him, and characters are born out of his will not mine.
I think the hardest part of birthing a character is watching them grow up. Like my own kids, it's hard to let them go. When I talk about them growing up, I mean finishing writing a book or series. I miss them. I find myself thinking about where they are today. After all I am their mommy. I birthed them and I presented them to the world. It's sad really.
The worst is when I have to kill a character off. It sounds morbid and I never know who that will be when I start a book. It usually shocks me and brings me to tears especially when I like the character.
I guess that puts us writers in a kind of mental category that only other writers understand. Yes we are all a little wacky and probably a bit insane. But really, it's the only way to write. At least that's what I think. If part of me wasn't slightly crazy, I don't think I would be able to birth the kind of characters that people love to read about.
My favorite part of writing is the birthing process of both a character and a story. And for me, I have always been an odd style writer. I write by the seat of my pants. Always a thrill, always a surprise, always a challenge, always a privilege to present that story that needs to be told.
So the next time you read a novel whether it be mine or someone else's, consider the birthing process and what it takes to make the story. My 'literary newborns' may have your blonde hair and blue eyes or your German accent, or your sassy personality. You my dear readers, and all the people I know in the world contribute to the gene pool of my characters. I value you and the God who made you and I look forward to creating and birthing all those future characters to come.
If you would like to know more about creating characters for your stories, please check out this ebook on Amazon.
Thanks for reading!