All my stories deal with justice. It's a quirk I realize is inherent in me. I want justice to be served or to make it known to others when there has been an injustice. Knowing this, I have certain characteristics my hero and heroine must have that will also give them the same drive to bring about justice or reveal the injustice.
They need to have these traits: Aggressive(not always in an overt way), alert, brave, concerned, determined, honest(if not to themselves to everyone else),intelligent, and stubborn.
When brewing up a character I use the above traits to conjure up their background. The events that happened in their lives to give them some of these traits. And the other traits that make some of the decisions they need to make in the story hard.
Sometimes I'll get a vision of the character, what they look like, how they dress and then I add the characteristics from the visual I see. These are the fun characters because I see them before I know their whole story and usually their name pops in my head when I see them or am categorizing what I see.
There are other times when I know the story I want to tell and then have to brew up the characters. Then I start with the background they need to be part of the story. I find a photo of who I think they are, or type out their visual characteristics. If I'm still at a loss for a name, I'll use their ethnicity to look up names and find the one that fits my character.
Then there are characters like Isabella Mumphrey who came about like this:
My friend Julie and I were driving to a writing retreat and I was lamenting about a book that didn't live up to the hype of an action adventure.
Julie: Why don’t you write an action adventure?
Me: I can’t write action adventure, and I’ve worked hard at branding myself. I write western or Native American.
Julie: So make the heroine have something to do with Native American studies.
Me: I guess that would work. (here my brain started kicking into overdrive)
Julie: Where would you set this story?
Me: South or Central America.
Me: I could use the heroine’s studies of Native American Indians as her reason for traveling to countries with drug problems.
Me: Because the hero would be with the DEA.
Julie: What kind of heroine will she be?
Me: Scholarly…genius level having graduated with her doctorate at 20 or22.(a light bulb clicked in my head as a slender girl with glasses wearing a long broomstick skirt, tank top, and sandals formed in my mind) Her name is Isabella Mumphrey.
I wish all heroes and heroines came as easy and fast as Isabella did.
Secrets of a Mayan Moon Blurb:
Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.
DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.
Award winning author Paty Jager is a member of national and local writing organizations. She not only writes the western lifestyle she lives it. With fifteen novels and several short stories published, she continues to have characters cavorting in her head and enjoys teaching other writers.
You can learn more about Paty at her blog; www.patyjager.blogspot.com her website; http://www.patyjager.net or on Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/#!/paty.jager , Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1005334.Paty_Jager and twitter; @patyjag.