Spotlight on Character

I am finishing up a book this week and it’s throwing me down on the floor, stomping on me, then laughing maniacally. While I attempt to battle through, I thought I’d re-post something I wrote in 2013. I’ve also left the comments intact. Feel free to add your own.

Spotlight on CharacterMy books always start with character. I didn’t realize that until a few years ago. Plot serves only as a vehicle to help the character grow. Scenery is the backdrop. If I can’t know the character backward and forward, and slip into their skin, so to speak, there’s no way I can encourage the reader to do so.

Not only do I have to do this with characters I like but with the villains of the piece, too. Getting into an antagonist’s character fascinates me. I have a deep dark side that I let come out and play sometimes.  I can feel the tension that comes between wanting ill for another person and wanting justice for myself. Nobody is 100% pure as the wind-driven snow. Nor is anyone 100% evil. It’s figuring out the percentages that’s fun.

The other day I was writing a short story simply for my own amusement. Writing has always been a way for me to understand myself. When I can’t figure out what I’m feeling, I start to write – it’s a way of exploring those subterranean thoughts. In fact, I believe that it’s this component of writing that leads a lot of us to become writers. We learn through writing. We get in touch with our secret selves, and the more books we produce, the more we reveal to the world.

Another interesting thing happens, or at least it has to me. The more I learn about myself, the more compassion and empathy I have for others. Even the flawed characters in my books are treated with greater care and understanding. I’ve made their mistakes. I’ve felt their uncertainties.

When I finished the short story, I was a little shocked. It had become a horror story quite naturally. Then I realized it wasn’t anything in my character that led to the startling ending. It was what the story demanded because of the characters.

Who are some of my favorite characters? I was starting to write a list when it occurred to me that they were all my favorites. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to write about them. I have to like the characters in my books, or at least understand them, to do them justice. So, I’ll leave it to you. Picking from a random group of characters, who are your favorites? (I had to remove the poll – sorry.)

  • Sebastian from My Beloved
  • Jennifer from Murder by Mortgage
  • Hamish from To Love a Scottish Lord
  • Jean from A Scandalous Scot
  • Davina from The Devil Wears Tartan
  • Moncrief from Till Next We Meet


4 thoughts on “Spotlight on Character”

  1. I wish I could’ve voted for two – I voted for Moncrief from TILL NEXT WE MEET, but I would love to put in a vote for Jean from A SCANDALOUS SCOTT too because I really stepped into her shoes. I understood her most of all your heroines. I think it’s because I saw so much of myself in her but she’s my fave lady. : )

    • The book I finished in May had a heroine who was probably closer to me than any character I’ve written. I think it was my 40th book (or maybe 43 if I count the ones I haven’t yet published). Isn’t that funny that it took so long?

      • Not really. I think your characters grow and mature as you do. After all these years and characters, you know yourself the best and now your characters will reflect that. Always eager to meet your new folks. : )


Leave a Comment