As a virgin novelist, building up character profiles has been the fun part. Getting inside each character’s head, then building them up into credible people who I can relate to, as well as love… and hate.
We, the human race, are all so splendidly diverse, from the way we look to what makes us tick. I love people and I have always been a people watcher. I can people watch for hours, especially at airports. There is nothing more complex and fascinating than a Homo Sapien.
As I child, I passionately wanted to be an archaeologist. I hadn’t heard of physical anthropology then, but that would have been my fascination. I would have wanted to be the charismatic Professor Alice Roberts but, it would be another ten years before she even joined the human race, let alone impart her wisdom to a captivated TV audience.
Over the years I have watched gurgling neonates develop into walking, talking fully fledged adult human beings, developing their characters in the process. I have filched and absorbed various characteristics from every person I have ever met, subconsciously storing their unique traits and little idiosyncrasies in my head.
For writers, when it comes to creating character profiles, we have billions of years of reference material to work from. The hard part is molding them into a moment in time to fit into a storyline, then working out how your fictional character will react in certain situations. The possibilities are endless.
One of my characters likes nothing more than a good w(h)ine. Whatever my MC does to try to please her, including sitting her down with a glass of wine and saying there, there, everything is going to be alright, is not going to work, because her glass will always be half empty.
Whether your cup is half-full or half-empty, remind yourself there are others without one.
Another character is fuelled by an unshakable belief that she can never possibly be wrong. Self-righteous to the extreme that she is doomed to lose everyone around her. There are those who never stop talking, those who are overly conscientious, those that are kind and those that just can’t make up their mind.
You are what you believe and I would like to believe my characters are a composite of the myriad of physical and behaviour traits of those around us. What others will have to say about them… only time will tell.
The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all
The Emporer, Mulan (1998 film)
One character, born and bred a Yorkshire Lass who, hand on heart, regularly coins a Yorkshire saying, there’s nowt so queer as folk, when she witnesses how some people behave towards others. She believes that you should always be kind to others because you never know what they are going through behind closed doors. We should always give what we would expect to receive. So, for me, getting inside the heads of others, is a character-building process.