Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. October Interviews 10/6 Joan Garcia 10/13 M. E. Browning 10/20 Lori Lewis Ham 10/27 Krista Davis 10/31 Veronica Bond Guest Blogs 10/2 Kathy Manos Penn 10/16 Kate Lansing 10/30 Jule Selbo -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Characters, where do they all come from?

As mentioned by Jim Jackson in his blog, a person seen in passing can stimulate the imagination. Is the woman silently crying in the corner seat on the train mourning her lost child or husband? Has she just found out she has an incurable disease? Does she suffer from chronic depression and refuse to take her medication because it makes her fat? Or does she remember each morning on the way to work the person she killed and now stores in her freezer? She didn’t mean for her friend to die and the burden of a frozen body so close to the family dining table is overwhelming.

At your high school reunion, was that glamour-queen Chris you stood beside in the woman’s restroom? Could she really have such baggy skin and a roll of fat trapped above the waistband of her flared skirt? Chris was the envy of her graduating class destined to be a model and a lawyer. Could she really be an ex-addict and single mom?

The male you drooled over in math class with the body of an athlete and the brain of a nerd, is he really going home early so he can take his daughter to a sleep-over? He settled on landscaping as a career? Hadn’t he been destined for Washington or the DA’s office?

I have characters in three short stories I can’t seem to finish. The characters come to life but their stories remain incomplete—the wife of a Desert Storm vet who has PTSD, the mother of an adopted daughter who suffered multiple childhood traumas, and a woman who makes her life a hedonistic pathway with lovers supporting and worshipping her because she’s gorgeous and sexually adventurous. What made her who she is and what happens to her in her fifties? I want to keep my characters in short stories but perhaps they need more room and a larger supporting cast.

Lately, I’ve been developing women with absent, inadequate, or traumatic fathers. The daughters can take any of a dozen paths to overcome their loss. They can seek males who support and admire them and treat them like princesses, or they can mother and subjugate males, or they can entice and kill males. Perhaps they’ll reject all males for a career in law or medicine. What happens when the career is not enough?

I think my next interest will be in the sex crossover. Which male authors created the most convincing female characters? Do I have the ability to create convincing male characters with depth?

Then, I’m not forgetting ghosts, poltergeists, and cold drafts, half-bird and half-human creatures, meerkats with souls, vampires who live two hundred years rather than eternity (a gene failure), and all the potential life forms in deep space.

I’ve heard Stephen King used to say he found his ideas for stories in Utah. It doesn’t seem fair to blame one state for all the tortured and threatening characters that can emerge from the imagination. And that’s not counting all the replicas of people I dislike and turn into villains who get what they deserve.


1 comment:

E. B. Davis said...

I think Simon Brett does a good job creating female characters. His cozy series features two very different women who are friends. MC Beaton's Hamish MacBeth is believable. kd easley's mc in her one series is male, in fact most of the characters are male. All are portrayed quite well.