Naomi Vogler blames herself for her mother's tragic death, continually reliving the accident in her nightmares. When she reconnects with her estranged father, he invites her to live with him in a little town called Witchfire. A simple job stocking shelves overnight at a local grocery store seems a perfect distraction. But when the manager of the store is found dead in the boiler room, Naomi's boring job becomes something much more complicated. No matter how she looks at it, one thing is certain: retail is murder.
Rosa Sophia is the author of the Paranormal Mystery Taking 1960. She currently resides in south Florida. Please visit her at: www.rosasophia.com
Rosa is here to talk about characters, so take it away Rosa!
There are characters everywhere.
I often talk to writers who have a hard time creating or developing characters. Creating characters is different than developing characters. To create, you come up with an idea, give them a name, and fit the character into your plotline. But when you develop your character, you are giving a meaning to their existence, showing their flaws and their strengths, and making it easier for readers to relate to them. I listen closely to the way people talk, because I feel it reveals a lot about their personality, their strengths and weaknesses. Over the weekend, I listened to someone speaking and imagined incorporating his speech patterns into my writing. It went something like this:
“And I was upset, you know? I wanted to, like, know, like, what was going on? I couldn’t believe what was, like, happening? It’s like when you go shopping, and like, the cashier just ignores you, like, like you aren’t even there, you know?” If I were going to create and develop a character based on this pattern of speech, I would say that this person is unsure of themselves, is nervous much of the time, and wants the validation of others.
For those of you who have trouble creating and developing characters in your writing: go out and listen to people. I don’t mean eavesdrop, or spy—just go to a diner, or a grocery store, and while you’re waiting for your grilled cheese to arrive, or perusing the pasta sauce, listen to the people around you.
What do their speech patterns say about them? (You’re a writer, not a psychologist, so there is no need for accuracy.) If you were going to write about this person, what would their strengths and weaknesses be? How would they handle them?
Many people have things they do unconsciously, especially when they are uncomfortable, or out of their element. When I am nervous around crowds or other people, I have a tendency to gently rub or scratch the area behind my right ear. The other week, I met a lovely woman who, in the midst of conversation, flips her hair ever twenty or thirty seconds. People do all sorts of things that define their strengths, weaknesses, and their personality.
You don’t want your main character to be completely virtuous, totally angelic, and highly self-sacrificing, without the slightest bit of give. Why? Because no one is completely virtuous. Your character may well run into a burning building to rescue a child, but unless he is a firefighter by career choice, he will have a harder time of it, having not been formally trained. Show that your character has flaws, and you show that he or she is human.
Thanks for the advice and thank you for stopping by, Rosa!