One day I was telling my brother how sorry I felt for a rather unfortunate-looking character in WINTER’S SIREN. And my brother was like, “You made her that way.” And I quickly responded, “She came to me that way.”
And that’s true for everyone I write about these days. If the characters don’t come to me with a story, than I’m just grasping at air. And if I’m grasping at air…well, I stop. Whenever I get a new idea, people just start showing up. Sure, we can make an argument for them already being in my head somewhere, made up of different parts of things that I’ve stumbled across over the years. But I didn’t create them from scratch on the spot.
I have a whole host of what I’m just going to call “background people” in my head. These are the people who show up when I need a random person to run a cash register or deliver a package or break a neck before getting their own necks broken. They often feel like they show up out of the blue. In NO REST FOR THE WICKED, I needed a few rather sketchy guys and had so many show up most of them didn’t even get a name. It was wicked awesome, though, I gotta say. 🙂
So, in WINTER’S SIREN when I first started spying on the characters, they came to me with personalities and appearances. I didn’t know them super well until I actually started writing, and one of them surprised me a great deal. Watching her from a distance and being her head were two completely different beasts. That was also awesome.
Other characters, like Safara in the forthcoming “blue dot” story showed up out of nowhere and told me her name, and everyone else’s, out of the gate. I LOVE this! Because those people are vivid and all up in my ear right away. Unlike say, Riley from “The Puppet Box,” who’s been in my head for 5 years now and she still won’t cooperate. I wrote the story, trashed it, and got so mad the antagonist had to step in to help me. Not that his motives are pure. There are a lot of interesting people in the noggin.
I guess I don’t really know where my characters come from. Perhaps they’re all lurking in the dark recesses of my mind, waiting for me to take notice of their story. I usually, for example, get an idea for a story and a main character simultaneously. If the idea doesn’t appear with an MC in tow, then it either goes with another idea I already have (hello, franken-ideas!) or it is soooo not ready yet.
In Safara’s case, I had no idea what her story even entailed for months. Honestly, it was really a few years. But she fascinated me and kept popping up at the most random times to tease me with darkness and death, and I was like, “Aren’t you adorable?” ^_^ (And scary.)
Most of my characters name themselves, but I do sometimes have to hunt for ALL the names! Which I’ll do because they’re making me, but grrr. I usually already have it written down somewhere, and they’ll let me know when I see it. If I have to look it up, they give me some pointers on where to look, but it’s been awhile since anyone’s made me do that. I’m known to have little patience when it comes to this. Like, this is something I would have done four years ago because I didn’t have an overflowing plot bunny field back then. But it is absolutely not happening now. Everyone in WINTER’S SIREN showed up with names. I just go with it. I’m not picky about names, and it means less running amok. 😀
This isn’t to say that I don’t occasionally have characters based on people I know. Andrew from WINTER’S SIREN, fun fact, was loosely modeled after this guy who works at a Starbucks I frequent. He’s still there. LOL! But usually, I can’t trace where the character came from.
Quick editing update: I’m doing an intensive read-through and making more changes than I normally make at this stage, but it’s all good, because once I finish, it’s done. Also, the formatting is done. 😀 Also, also, the cover is finalized, and I have a gif!