Tuesday, June 14, 2011
How to make a man
Or Creating Characters
When a story idea first comes to me it’s usually inspired by a phrase or a single action – like watching a leaf float down from the sky and thinking about all the things it briefly touches as it glides from branch to branch, bumping a twig, a birdhouse in the tree, a park bench under the tree or landing for a short time on a statue’s outstretched arm. Kind of like a person drifting through life and all the different strangers he affects by his touch.
Anyway once that story idea hits me I begin to visualize the man my story will center around. I think his personal qualities—good and bad—form before with his physical attributes for me. Maybe he dazzles his lovers with striking vibrant, blue eyes or freezes his enemies with the icy coldness of his pale blue/gray stare. I have to know his personality before I can choose his eye color. Is he hard-hitting, business-like or a warm, welcoming man?
And usually the story line—if I plan the story first as opposed to allow the character of my story to determine the story outcome—will tell me the type of main character I need to pull a successful story line off. A shy, conservative architect who loves evenings at home with a good book and has a secret passion for knitting is not going to be a likely hero of a rough and tumble adventure. Not that it can’t happen but it would stretch believability a bit for some readers.
So once I have my story line, I imagine the man who is capable of accomplishing what I want done.
His looks, his likes and dislikes, his quirks, strong points and most importantly his flaws. No good hero is flawless. Those flaws make him interesting, provide conflict in a relationship and are just plain more realistic. I know we are writing fiction but the characters still have to be believable.
Then because I write manlove romance I have to pair this woman-made man with a suitable male lover. The process is the same but I like bring in an opposite personality. Ying and Yang. Big and small, direct and subtle.
The hardest part for me is naming the characters after I have them all knitted together. Names have to fit. Not just the correct ethic or cultural background I’ve given them but their personality traits. I like short, direct names like Bram or Adam for my more dominate characters and ‘softer’ names like Blair, Connor or Aidan for the partner. Since I write to please myself that works just fine.