Characters Build Character by Talia

Last week I talked about how pieces of my characters come from people I know. And I don’t think it can be helped that all of my characters have pieces of me. But my favorite characters are the ones who show up fully formed in my head, chattering away until I get them down on paper. Since I write in first person, these characters often become the primary character for my novels, and if I’m lucky, they don’t stop talking until I’ve typed the words, “The End.”

Yes, sometimes I do worry that I must fall off the very deep end of even Donna’s Texas-style crazy scale. But it’s these characters who teach me the most, by letting me see and experience the world through their eyes. They’ve also given me something I never expected: a little nerve.

You see, despite their different backgrounds, situations and conflicts, all of my main characters share a common trait. They’re invisible. Whether it’s by circumstance or design, they are safe in the shadows. But it’s by stepping outside of their comfort zones and letting others in, that each discover their true potential.

For Berry Fields, the teenage private investigator in SPIES AND PREJUDICE (Egmont 2012), staying in the background is a necessity, and keeping boys away is a conscious choice. So when Tanner Halston sits down across from her and flashes a perfect grin, she’s not prepared:

“My breath momentarily catches in my throat. Oh hell no. My stomach did not just flip inside out. I’ve seen countless men look at a girl in just the way that Tanner looks at me now. Right before they screw their secretary, the grocery store clerk, or some random coed in a diner. It’s nothing to get worked up over.”

I can relate. I wasn't at all prepared for the friendly, talented writers who sat across the table from me at my first conference critique. I didn't even know I needed the YA Muses until I found them, and now I don't know if I could do this without them.

Evoney Slater from my shiny new WIP, is literally invisible. She’s a ghost who only appears to the living as an omen of their impending death. She knows better than to try to get involved in what’s left of their lives, until she doesn’t:

“Most of the time, I just stand there and stare at the person staring at me, watching their facial expressions change as I vanish before their eyes. That’s what I’m going to do now. Why not? He’s not so bad to look at. “Trust me, you don’t want to know me.” Crap. Did I just answer his question? Edgar and his effing improv.”

I was the same. Always thinking about writing a book but never doing it. Until I did. And then there was no going back.

In BANDIA (Flux 2012), Brianna Paxton is panicked to realize that after years of being invisible to boys, Blake Williams suddenly sees her:

“I straighten my spine and walk to the island, taking a position next to Haley where I am sure to disappear.

It will only be a second before he looks back at Haley.



Any second now.

Blake doesn’t look away, so I do. I concentrate on one blue shoe. Stupid, uncomfortable, way too high shoe. Like running was ever an option.”

Sometimes I feel like disappearing too. But high heels or no high heels, running is not an option.

Three characters who’ve spent years lurking in the background, hiding from the world and hiding from themselves. None can discover their true potential until they are thrust outside of their safety net, but no journey worth taking is without complications, conflict and heartache.

Is it any wonder I’ve started to ponder what’s at stake for me as I step out of the shadows? Well, if Brianna can face her darkest fears, and Evoney can confront life and death, and Berry can learn to trust in love, what do I have to lose by actually writing a book instead of just burying my nose in one? What do I have to gain?

I guess I’ll have to wait for the second act to find out. But in the meantime, I’m taking a page from my characters and enjoying the journey.

Post a Comment

Grid_spot theme adapted by Lia Keyes. Powered by Blogger.


discover what the Muses get up to when they're not Musing

an ever-growing resource for writers

Popular Musings

Your Responses

Fellow Musers