Nocturnal Journal

Paranormal Romance Author
Mandy M. Roth
Vampires, Werewolves & Faeries...Oh My!
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Character Development

(This is a response to a post (made on AMAZON BLOG) asking about characters and how I create/develop them. I thought others might be interested as well so I’m bumping it up as a new post in addition to be a response.)

LOL @ the "Rat Boy". The idea for Wilson, from the Immortal Ops series, came when I was developing the idea of how the I-Ops would have been formed. I already knew I wanted at least one of them to be a "natural" supernatural and the others to have been genetically altered. I got to thinking about how chaotic it would be in a lab filled with wild animals and so forth. It made me think, what would happen if there was a mix up. What's the one animal almost all labs have? Rats. LOL. So, it made sense to have a lab rat switch up with one of the I-Ops. I then sat and thought about what it would be like to sign up for a project, thinking you were going to come out this butt kickin' super soldier only to wake up and find out you were a glorified lab rat. That in itself would mess with your mind. It made me wonder what type of person I'd need to make Wilson. Angry at the world came to mind but it seemed too easy of an out so I went with the type of guy who doesn't take himself or anyone else too serious. He then was able to provide much needed comic relief during tense moments in the Ops books.

I don't research the characters so much as I map them out. I'm mega anal about charts and graphs. I swear by them. With all the series I have it gets a little hard to remember who goes where and who is doing what without them. I start out with an idea of what I want to write about and then I decide what type of person fits that bill. From there, I come up with a name. I can't even think about hair color or anything until I have a name that feels right. I'm strange, I know. *G*

After I have a name picked out, I then start with the obvious--physical characteristics, job, skills, special supernatural mojo...blah From there, I break it down more, listing quirks and habits they might have. I'm a people watcher when I'm in public. I like to see what someone does when they're talking with others, thinking no one's watching, or wishing all eyes were on them. I make mental notes and try very hard to give each character "real" traits. Like if they're really nervous do they stutter a bit? Do they blush? Does it cover not only their cheeks but their neck and upper chest too? Maybe their ears turn red. They might be prone to biting their lower lip when they're worried or anxious. They might be a toe-tapper when they've got too much energy built up. Any little thing I can think of to make them seem more real, more human, I try to give them. I'm already asking readers to swallow a big heapin' dose of supernatural/paranormal reality, mixed in with alpha hunks who were carved from marble. I like to try to bring the characters down a notch (not really the right way to explain it but it sort of feels that way in my head). Once I have the traits down, the rest starts to fall in line.

I make silly lists that normally have nothing to do with the finished product but I make them all the same. It helps me know the character better. Like...favorite foods, fav animals, sayings, songs, hobby. Things that while I may or may not bring up in the book, help me get into their head while I'm writing them. With three kids I have to stop what I’m working on at a moment’s notice. Coming back and picking it back up again is easier if I have a sheet laid out with character traits.

This is horrible to admit but a few of my bad guys have been a combination of people I've had "issues" with in my life. *G* Not all but some have been. Others are a perfect balance that I need to strike to have the story move forward.

Caleb in Daughter of Darkness is the polar opposite of my husband in the looks department, his personality is very close to Caleb's. He's very easy going, fun-loving and good natured. That being said, you can only walk on him so much. I needed someone for Gwen who would be understanding to a fault even but who, in the end, could hold his own if need be. Who better than to base Caleb off of than a man who has proven himself in the area of dealing with a difficult woman (yeah, I'm calling myself than my hubby.

Caleb ended up meeting Gwen during a scene when he as a crossbow. That was a bit of an inside joke with my husband and I because in college he took a lot of "odd" courses, like canoeing, archery and so forth for his electives. I, of course, being the smart*** that I am, couldn't resist asking if he wore tights and was accompanied by a band of merry men while he was off shooting arrows in the forest. So, the joke had to come into play in DOD too.

Another character in DOD who is based off a real person is Nana. She’s based off my grandmother. She too is a little woman full of spit and vinegar. The lecture Gwen gets about men all being like lemons… “put ‘em in a bag, shake ‘em up, pull one out and you still have a lemon” is a saying my grandmother has used ever since I can remember. She also calls everyone shorty like Nana in the book does because she forgets their names. *Big Grin*
There is something from my life in every book I write. Even if it’s just small, its there. Like in Wicked Lucidity, the opening scene where Karri and Amber are dancing to 70's music while dressed up in the front lawn for all to see is something I've done in the past. (Okay, fine...I might still be known to do it. *G*)

I think that life is amazingly complicated but wonderfully so. If that makes any kind of sense. I think ugly things happen to good and bad people. I also think that while they shape us, they don't always define us. I try to bring that way of thinking into my writing. I try to bring in what we know and take it to another level. There are times when it’s too hard for some to read and I understand that fully. I'm the first to put a disclaimer on something flagging it. I also think that a lot of people do want to read about it all and "live it" safely via a book.

Oh, would you look at that…I just put everyone reading this to sleep. LOL. Sorry to ramble. I tend to do that. I also tend to avoid saying thanks when someone was nice enough to take time out of their day to compliment me…like you did. It’s not because I don’t want to but I get embarrassed and then want to hide under my desk. Oh, yeah, I’m fearless all right. *snort* So let me just take a second to say thank you.

I could talk forever and a day so I’ll spare you all any more for now.

(oh, and the pic is one someone sent from the web. They thought I'd like it. I do. The artist did an amazing job!)
posted by mandymroth @ 8:13 PM  
  • At 5:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love your books. I just discovered them. I find the characters wonderful and it's great to see how you have developed them. That beind said....are you writing a book soon about Wilson?

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