Friday, 23 February 2018

February Round Robin: Creating characters


The topic for this month is all about creating characters. ‘Your characters come from your mind, from other people you've witnessed, but can you create their lives without them revealing something about yourself? Have they ever taught you something?’

For me, stories are first and above all about people and the conflicts and emotions between them, that’s why it is so important to create characters that the reader can relate to and want to follow through the pages of a book until the final resolution. But where do these characters come from, and how do they spring into life and become as real, endearing or infuriating as the people you meet in real life?

Before I share my ideas about this month’s topic, please let me introduce you to Rosalie Heart, the heroine of my romantic novel LITTLE PINK TAXI, which was released this week by Choc Lit.

Hi everybody! My name is Rosalie Heart. I live in Raventhorn, a beautiful but run-down castle in the Cairngorms of Scotland, together with Geoff McBride whom I love like the father I never knew, and housekeeper Lorna. Oh yes, Geoff says ‘others’ live at Raventhorn too, like the ghost of Isobel McBride for example, although I suspect that he’s must making it up to attract tourists. I love this place. I may not have been born here, but this is where I grew up, and I never want to leave.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Apart from my love for Raventhorn, there are three things I must tell you about me. Number one: I can’t cook, but I love cakes, especially my friend Alice's chocolate brownies. Number two: I set up my own cab company called Love Taxis after mum died, and there's no other job I’d rather do than drive my pink taxi.  And number three: when in my cab, I love singing – although I have been told that I sing as well as I cook!  

I believe in kindness, in helping others and staying loyal to your friends and family.

How much did I make up about Rosalie’s character, and how much is based on people around me, on chance encounters, life experiences and personal beliefs and preferences? Is Rosalie completely made up, a little bit made up, or purely fictitious?

The truth is, a bit of both. I have never driven a taxi – whether pink or of any other colour. In fact I don’t like driving all that much. I have never lived, or even stayed, in a Scottish castle, even though it would be my dream to do so. I do however share quite a few things with Rosalie. I can’t sing. I love chocolate cake. I believe in kindness and loyalty. And for many years I struggled with the loss of my mother.

So Rosalie is a little bit like me, but she is even more like the woman I would like to be. Her life is completely alien to mine, and yet she shares some of my dreams and the painful experience of losing a loved one. She is a lot braver than I ever was. In fact, when I recently had to drive back home on a deserted hill road in ice and fog late at night, I kept asking myself what Rosalie would do She is used to driving in the snow in winter, so she wouldn’t panic. And it did seem to help!
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The topic for this round robin got me thinking about my process for creating characters. I have never based a character solely on someone I know, have met or heard of in ‘real’ life. However, I don’t believe it is possible to completely make up a character.

Ever since I can remember, I have always spent a lot of time observing people, listening to conversations, picking up bits and pieces of information. Every time I have been in a slightly comical or peculiar situation, I have always made a mental note of remembering all the details of how I felt, how the people around me reacted, in order to be able to write about it later.

Even though they are not based on me, my heroines have feelings, dreams fears and insecurities that I have had at some point in my life. In particular, now I think about it, they all have had to deal with the loss of a loved one – often their mother, which resonates with my own experience of having lost my mother to cancer very early on in my life. So the characters I feel the closest to have qualities and flaws I find funny or endearing, or have experiences I’ve had or would like to have.

On the other hand, the ‘villains’ or less sympathetic characters have personality traits I find irritating or unattractive. After all, you know the saying ‘if you annoy me, I will put you in my book (optional: and I will kill you!)
LITTLE PINK TAXI is available here.

Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart … 
Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline.

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too.

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …


Please take a look at what these authors have to say about this month's round robin!



10 comments:

  1. Hi Marie, Such an interesting post. I can't sing either, but I'm a reasonable home cook and I do have my late Mum-in-law's chocolate cake recipe - so come visit. I think there are character traits or life experiences we return to over and over. Maybe we should just regard them as our 'signature'. anne stenhouse

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for visiting and for your comment, Anne. I hope it made sense since I wrote it last night after a couple of glasses of wine!I like your idea of 'signature' characters.

      Delete
  2. A fascinating analysis of you and Rosalie that made me think about my own characters. Thanks, great post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Rhobin. One thing was unusual for me when I created Rosalie: she is my first ever heroine with brown hair. So far, all my heroines have been blondes, like me!

      Delete
  3. I enjoyed your post and your comparison between you and Rosalie, one of your characters.
    Beverley

    ReplyDelete
  4. I liked learning about Rosalie and I loved her little pink taxi. Congratulations on your new book. You are brave to write about places you haven't been, but imagination is a powerful thing, as is, of course, research.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks, Judy. I love research, and these days, the internet is a wonderful tool for 'visiting' places! Thank you for visiting.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post. I like your comment about putting some traits of people you don't like into your villains. If you read a few of my books, you will notice that I always use a particular man's name for the pompous, sneering, egotistic male characters. I've met at least 2 with that name, and had more than one run-ins with them. So I feel free to use their name to announce to my readers: "Caution, a**hole alert!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for visiting, Fiona. How funny what you wrote about your villains. I seem to always have villains with names starting with 'm'! Thanks for your comment.

      Delete