Thursday, February 4, 2010

Building Character

When I woke up that fine morning, just over a year ago now, and decided I wanted to write a book, I really had no idea what I was doing. I just wanted to create a world populated with people I would grow to know and spend my time with. Not surprising considering I grew up reading a variety of mysteries and much preferred to read serial mysteries, where the same character and sidekicks appeared in each of the stories.

I remember many weekend mornings, sitting at the kitchen table with a Nancy Drew mystery propped on the table while I ate. I loved Bess and George, and of course, I wanted to be Nancy, to be the one to put the clues together. More than anything, though, I wanted to be part of the group, to have friends who were with me through all our adventures, who would always be there for me…and they were. I could always count on a Nancy Drew mystery to get me through a lonely weekend.

In high school, I discovered John D. MacDonald, and his unforgettable hero, Travis McGee, his best friend Myer, and his houseboat The Busted Flush. Again, as much as I loved the hero (what's not to love about Travis?) I felt a strong bond to the characters, their friendship, and my perceived membership in the group.

I loved Agatha Christie, and read her books repeatedly, grouping the Miss Marple books and the Poirot books, so I had a chance to stay with the characters through several books, bonding, getting to know them better over time, just as you would in real life. I love Sue Grafton and Kinsey; Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum, Morelli, and Ranger; Michael Connelly and Harry Bosch; Jonathon Kellerman, Alex Delaware, and Milo; John Sanford, Lucas Davenport, and Sloan; Robert Crais, Elvis Cole, and Pike; Karen Marie Moning, MacKayla Lane and Jericho Barrons. In the YA genre, I was all over Harry Potter and Twilight.

All of these writer's have created characters with whom I want to spend time; more time than is afforded through just one book. I find something about each of them compelling, especially their relationships with others, and I want to be part of that group, too.

Although we all recognize what a wonderful ability it is to weave a story worth telling and to tell it so well that others will pay to read it, I think it is even more impressive when authors create characters that people miss after the book cover closes.

The authors and characters I listed are an inspiration to me, and remind me that, although I know my characters well, I need to share them in a manner that lets the reader develop their own relationship with them. A relationship that exists beyond the cover of just one book.



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