By Georgia Florey-Evans
As you might guess from the title, we are looking at characters. Unless I stick with the “Real People” and host a gossip session like none other.
When I started writing only three years ago, I was naïve. I would write this unbelievably excellent novel, and it would go right onto the shelf at every major bookstore. While my book didn’t become a best-seller, a well-known author read it. “You are character-driven, but you need to remember the other components of a good story.” That made about as much sense to me as directions to Atlantis, but I taught for ten years so I could figure this out.
I started right off with a blue-ribbon mistake. I googled “characters and plot,” and the plethora of “best ways” to balance a character with the other elements of a story was astonishing. Along comes my second mistake. I printed out three binders full of “the best way” instructions. I have no idea what I did with those. Then, Eureka! To make my story and characters real, they had to be actual people to me.
The first characters I felt existed were twins managing their Myrtle Beach apartment buildings. Were they real to only me? The second day of a Myrtle Beach vacation, my daughter asked, “Do you keep expecting to see Randy or Sam?” I wasn’t alone.
There is no magic formula, and I realized that as truth when I described my four blonde men as looking like Chris Hemsworth. I came across a small article about creating a character, and that advice changed everything. Instead of the templates and directions, I would find a picture. No license required because I was the only one who knew about the photos. I began locating a man or woman who resembled my characters, and once I took all the “Thor” pictures out, this was wonderful. It even became better when I found a program that let me keep the pictures organized. Before I wrote one word, I would think of one character and find his/her photo. (Did you know Chris Hemsworth has an actor brother, Liam? Yeah–he had to go, too.)
My Extended Family series provides my most real character. Bert is the most rounded character I have written. She is eccentric and calls her “young ones” by their first and middle names. They aren’t so “young,” and some didn’t care for their given names. Randy Wexler may as well have walked to a big tree and asked it to lay off the “Randall.” At least the tree wouldn’t feel inclined to pinch his cheeks and say, “Aren’t you funny, Randall Alan.”
In one book, she is injured from a fall, and the doctor puts her on pain pills. When she sat down for breakfast, the man on each side of her backed off while she piles their plates with a seven-inch stack. For their dining pleasures, Aunt Bert entertains them with songs she doesn’t know.
Bert also has a playful side. She keeps gifting her brides with uniquely designed lingerie that had all three of them the color of a ripe tomato. And, telling the night clerk at a hotel that the young man escorting her needed his own room because he needed a break. Wouldn’t think a young man with muscles would wear out, would you? Sadness runs deep because her true love died in a tragic car accident the night before they were to be wed.
Hopefully, you see Aunt Bert the way I wrote her. Truthfully, I miss her sometimes and have to go back to one of her character blogs on my website.
So, my unprofessional advice? Write your characters as real people. No characteristics sheets because if you know them, you know them.
Have fun with your real people.
Georgia Florey-Evans is new to the Christian Romantic Suspense. She has switched from the Contemporary Romance and found her niche. She lives with her hero of thirty-seven years in a small Illinois town and is thankful all six of their grandchildren are nearby. Georgia is her pastor’s assistant and writes the church’s weekly newsletter. When not writing, she enjoys reading and walking her puppy, Gizmo. She loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her and read her blog at www.georgiaevansauthor.com.