When talking about writing a novel, the topic of characterization inevitably comes up. And rightfully so – without characters, there isn’t a story!
In my 30 plus years of writing, I have created hundreds of characters, from all different walks of life, places in history, ages, etc. In order to lend authenticity to writing, there are four unique things I have to give each and every character:
- Physical Description
- Psychological Patterns
The trick is to use all four of these fundamental aspects of character development and make them work in unison. It’s the seemingly insignificant details that make all the difference. In order to keep them all straight, I keep an ongoing list of each character, with personality analysis, history, and physical descriptions.
My new book, The River Rose (B&H Publishing Group), introduces a whole new cast of individuals from the 1800s.
The River Rose characters:
With wide-set velvet brown eyes and long chestnut brown hair, Jeanne spends her days working as a chambermaid at the Gayoso House Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Jeanne is a single mom who works hard and loves her daughter, Marvel, so much it sometimes hurts. Frugal and compassionate, Jeanne loves the Lord, but wonders how to reconcile her growing affection for two very different men in her life.
A small child with mousy brown hair, six-year-old Marvel demonstrates cleverness and kindness beyond her tender years. Although an only child, living in poverty, Marvel’s gentle gratitude and sweet joy of life brightens the life of those around her.
Clint is in many respects, a man of extremes; a hard-working machinist of humble means, Clint is also a gifted opera singer. Although a gentleman at heart, Clint definitely has some rough edges. He likes to tease and spends his evenings frequenting the local pubs and making ends meet as a fighter, known to the locals as Clint the Flint Fist.
A wiry, tough man with dark curly hair, Vince is Clint’s good friend. Loyal, strong, with a ready smile, Vince openly questions his friend’s dual lifestyle and the women he sees coming in and out of Clint’s life.
A gentleman through and through, George is blonde, blue-eyed, and handsome. George is a wealthy plantation owner who treats Jeanne with gentle consideration and respectful admiration.
Taking on a life of their own
More often than not, by the time I’m finished with a manuscript, the characters in my story have moved in very different directions that I initially planned. They have developed through the plot and dialogue. A successful author creates characters so real they begin to take on a life of their own during the writing process. Authenticity shines most bright when our characters have both strengths and weaknesses, both smooth and rough edges.
Now that I’ve given you a small taste of character development and introduced you to some key individuals, I’d love for you to “meet” the whole River Rose gang. Sign up for my e-mail list to get subscriber-only giveaways and special offers on upcoming releases.