Character Creation

On January 4th, my book blog tour stop was hosted by Sharing Links & Wisdom.  The post included an excerpt from DREAM WATERS (Book 1 of the Dream Waters series) and my thoughts on creating characters:

Character Creation 

The world is chock-full of characters. Personally, I’ve always been drawn to the quirky folks, the misfits, the people who march to the beat of their own drummer and don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks. Those people make life interesting. What fun would it be if everybody followed the latest trends, dressed like the magazines told them to and behaved the way they were expected to? Characters with quirks make a story interesting. The good news is, you can find characters everywhere.

None of my characters are modeled after real people. That’s frowned upon…in fact, I think it can get you sued. That said, a few of my characters are loosely based on people I’ve come across in my lifetime. The two that jump to mind are Bob and Nellie in my debut novel, Dream Waters. When I first created them, they were one-dimensional. Charlie and Emma couldn’t be the only patients in the psychiatric facility, so I created Bob, Nellie and Frank to interact with them. Over the course of the story, Bob and Nellie did what respectable characters always do. They developed minds of their own and demanded that their stories become part of the narrative. Little did I know—when I created the crotchety senile old man who swears like a sailor and the shriveled old woman who’s constantly crooning squeaky-voiced lullabies to a child that isn’t there—those two characters would become the favorites of many of my readers.

Bob, my potty-mouthed television-obsessed senior citizen, was loosely based on a patient at a nursing home that my Girl Scout troop visited during the holiday season many moons ago. We went there to put on a talent show for the patients. Another girl scout and I both took ballet lessons (this was back when I was too young to realize that I wasn’t graceful, but that’s another story), so we choreographed a little dance routine. We showed up dressed in tutus borrowed from the ballet studio and the nursing home staff unplugged the television in the lounge to plug in our music. Let me just say, I’m a bit of an introvert. Performing in public has never been my thing. Imagine my horror when we began our routine and one extremely vocal gentleman spent the entire time hollering, “Plug in the T.V.! Plug in the T.V.!” That brief comedic moment of childhood trauma stuck with me and became the inspiration for Bob, the television-obsessed elderly mental patient. Bob then took on a life of his own because as any good character knows, real people are never one-dimensional. I’m sure that gentleman at the home is long since deceased, but I’d still like to thank him for inspiring me to create one of my most beloved characters. Bob doesn’t make an appearance in the second book of my series, but my readers loved him so much that I felt compelled to bring him back in Book Three. I think my readers will be pleased with the direction his story ultimately takes.

Nellie, my frizzy-haired squeaky-voiced old woman who spends her time rocking and singing to a child that no one else sees, was loosely based on a patient in a long-term care facility where I did a clinical rotation during pharmacy school. I never actually saw the woman because I was sitting in a backroom pouring over patient charts to make recommendations on their meds. While I sat there in my white lab coat quietly doing my thing, this elderly woman would sit in the hallway and repeat the words, “I want my baby. I want my baby…” After several choruses of this, the nurses would hand her something. I’m assuming it was a stuffed animal or a doll because I’m fairly confident they wouldn’t hand this woman an actual baby. Shortly after they’d give her the “baby” she’d start in with, “Please take my baby. Please take my baby…” That also stuck with me enough to find its way into my first novel. After I introduced her to the story, Nellie took matters into her own hands and ended up playing a pivotal role in the narrative.

Like I said, characters are everywhere. As a writer, I appreciate them for the precious gems that they are, and I don’t mean that sarcastically. No living breathing person is ever one-dimensional. The humorous or terrifying quirks that initially define them are nothing but first impressions. Every character, living or pen-and-ink, has a story to tell. Every life matters, and I for one try never to forget that the grouchy customer at the pharmacy counter may have a sick child they were up all night with, or an elderly spouse who’s slowly slipping away before their eyes. Our life experiences are what shape us into the characters that we become. It’s a writer’s job to remember that and craft their characters accordingly. Giving them past struggles and heartaches is the way to breathe life into them so that they step off the page and into the reader’s heart.

Check out the complete post & leave a comment for another chance to win the $50 Amazon/B&N gift card at the end of my tour!

http://sharinglinksandwisdom.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-dream-waters-series-vbt.html?zx=3711196015b0654

 

DREAM WATERS tour — author interview

Yesterday was a busy day!  In addition to my guest post on Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews, I did an interview on author Danita Minnis’s blog.

Check out the interview—find out what my favorite ice cream flavor is, the first story that made an indelible impression on me, how I develop my plot & characters, and other random facts about me—and leave a comment on the blog post for another chance to win the $50 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card at the end of my tour!

http://blog.danitaminnis.com/

You can add DREAM SIGHT (Book 3 in the Dream Waters series) to your “Want to Read” list on Goodreads!

It won’t be long now!  After a few unanticipated delays, I’m thrilled to tell you that DREAM SIGHT (Book 3 in the Dream Waters series) should be available within the next few weeks!  You can add it to your “Want to Read” list on Goodreads now!

Book 3 is my personal favorite, as it tells the backstory I’ve been dying to tell since I started the series.  Several of the scenes have been in my head for ages, not so patiently waiting to be shared.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36960187-dream-sight

Why I write from multiple points of view.

I was sifting through old notes I’d jotted down while working on the original intro to Dream Waters book 1 earlier today.  Though this opening never found its way into the finished book, I thought I’d share it with you now-

My name is Charlie Oliver and this is my story, but I am not the only teller of this tale.  I am but one of its many voices, and I think that’s the way it was meant to be.  Life is a symphony and one lone instrument could never do it justice.  It’s the weaving and interconnecting of the sounds of each instrument that moves us.  Perhaps that’s because connection is what we all ultimately seek.  This world is a place filled with heartache and pain.  Many souls wander through it desperate and alone.  Other souls pass by them every day but they never connect.  They are but one lone instrument playing only portions of a song, unaware that an orchestra surrounds them.  If they were to connect, their lone grief-stricken notes would become something magical.  Listen to our words and we’ll share with you a symphony.