“The Creation of Eve” by Paolo Caliari (1528-1588)
About a month ago I’d been asked the following question in an interview. “When you decided to develop a hero and a heroine, how does that process come about? Do you do the character sketch? Do you use real world influences?”
Sometimes I get an idea for a character and then create a story around them. Sometimes I get an idea for a story and then create a character to fit the story.
In Captive (book #1 in the Survival Race series) I had a story idea first and then created the characters to fit the story. The plot required a tortured alpha male whose humanity is stripped away. I created Max–the poor hero believes he’s nothing more than a beast–to fill this role. Then I had to figure out what kind of heroine could make him see he’s not a beast. He’s a good man worthy of love. So I created a strong, spirited heroine who could inspire Max.
The hero of Fearless (Survival Race #2) was introduced in Captive. His character was already partially formed so I needed to create a story around him. As I brainstormed the plot, I also brainstormed the kind of heroine he required. Since he wants revenge, he needed a heroine who could tame his lust for war and bring peace into his heart. His heroine was created especially for him, and new to the series. This couple was exciting to write about. The warlord and the spiritual healer have opposing goals, but we all know what happens to opposites, right? Sexual tension! The heat level is a bit steamier in Fearless than Captive.
While plotting Survival Race #3, I realized once again that I have a hero and a partial plot but no heroine. I actually went through three different heroines trying to figure out who would work best! The first two weren’t getting the job done. They were already established characters, but were not right for what the hero needed or what the plot needed…or, quite frankly, what I needed. Those heroines weren’t getting me excited to write the story. After much cogitating, I came up with a new character. This kick-butt alpha heroine is exactly what the hero needs, and boy is she going to be fun and exciting to write about. I can’t wait to see their tension ignite the page.
So what have I learned about my character development process? Apparently I take the Adam and Eve approach. I create the man first and then from the man create the perfect woman for him.
No matter how the character is born, I always do a character sketch to get to know each one better. A character sketch answers questions like what do they look like, what is their history, what are their fears/ likes/ dislikes, etc… I’ve also taken bits and pieces from real world influences, but don’t tell my family or friends that.
Readers – have you ever read about characters that were perfect for each other? Have you ever read about characters that weren’t and wondered why the author forced them together? Writers – What’s your process to character development? Do you do the character sketch? Do you use real world influences? Please leave your answers in the comments section.