The Birth of a Character #amwriting #writerslife

The Birth of a Character #amwriting #writerslife

“Where do you get your characters?” is one of the most often asked questions of authors.

But the emergence of a character comes about not from those long lists of attributes and characteristics, though I do write them. For me, however, I need a picture of a person and usually a place setting before they start to form. I love searching for images that click. Favorite places to find those images include: magazines, people watching at the mall, photographs and paintings at museums (my favorite character-search location.) Generally, I do not base characters on anyone I know. The unknown aspects are much too delicious to develop.

In Finding My Highlander, the lead roles of Kendrick and Andra had been floating in my head for a couple of years. They first emerged from a dream. That’s true! Once their names came to me everything else fell into place. And in Andra’s case I found a photograph in a magazine while sitting in a doctor’s waiting room and Voila! Andra came out of the dark. I’d like to share that photo, but I don’t have any reference that I can quote so worry I’d be infringing on some copyright restriction. However, some months after I published the book, I came across a photo on that perfectly fit Andra.

You can see more of my images of characters on my Pinterest Boards:

In book two, My San Francisco Highlander (MSFH,) the characters form Angel and Brian came to me before I’d even finished book one. But I still didn’t know their story-line until later because I hadn’t intended to write their story next.

The emergence of the secondary character for MSFH – Charlotte Rutland (aka, Char), that snarky, flirty, sharp-tongued best friend (though some questioned why,) to our protagonist/heroine, Gillian Angelina Adair (aka, Angel) was a different story.

I knew I needed someone who represented the polar opposite to Angel, who like her name, was sweet but strong, open yet shy, etc. Charlotte, on the other hand, needed to be full of fire and spit, quick to flirt and just as quick to smack down any man who annoyed her. She embodied the peak of the women’s movement in the early to mid-1970’s and dragged her unwitting friend, Angel, along always urging her to lighten up and get with the new woman’s image.

Charlotte fully embraced feminism and the more open sexual freedoms explored in the ’70’s and quickly became a strong second character in the story. Early on she demanded her own story. But where did her story fit after she’d suffered so much in book two? When I wrote first introduced her in MSFH, I had no idea how significant she would become or that she would infiltrate my ideas for the third book so thoroughly. But it was this image that I found in my many searches that synced that character both physically and emotionally in my head.

Charlotte is an enigma to herself. Free but trapped. A modern woman secretly longing for something far more traditional. As she disappeared into the unknown in book two it was logical she would trek her way onto pages of another story. I did not intend for her to be in the third book until I’d reached the last quarter of book two, then her future role cemented in my brain.

Charlotte’s character is still developing as I pen pages for My Colonial Highlander. Much has changed in her surroundings and in her character. Yes, I thoroughly believe that although our core personality may drive a person’s life, the events that touch them, both directly and indirectly, and the efforts they make to grow also changes them. No one more so than Charlotte as she learns the secrets of her own heart.

I’ve had many interruptions in developing book three, but it’s moving forward at a steady clip, and I hope to make great strides in the next few months.

Meanwhile, I recently received a painting which hangs in my office. This image has inspired a character and place setting for a new series set in the Regency period. Here’s a sneak peek of the inspiration for my new character, Periwinkle Blue (called Peri,) in this upcoming series.

But first, I’ll work hard on book 3, My Colonial Highlander, and the collection of love poems. Type, type, type!

Send me good thoughts and send me any questions you have about the characters.

2 Replies to “The Birth of a Character #amwriting #writerslife”

  1. You are truly amazing Aleigha……with all your setbacks; you just keep on brighten many lives. Love the new portrait of Peri in your office

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