My novel 'Whispering Olive Trees' is out on submission and I'm playing the waiting game. There's nothing more I can do until the decisions start to come back and I'll replace each rejection with another submission. Although I've started planning and writing scenes from my new mother/daughter saga, I'm finding it hard to say goodbye to one of the characters I know so well from my finished novel.
The reader will meet Elin, a talented young artist, when she
|The fishing port that greets Elin when she arrives|
I have experienced the whole gamut of her emotions. Having been in her head, I know her thoughts and the reasons for how she acts and reacts, why she says what she does. When a tragedy happens on the island, the school closes. I have been party to the dilemma she faces and understand the decision at which she arrives. Elin leaves the island of Pefka earlier than planned, keeps her life there a secret and she never paints again. Twenty years have passed and the reader meets her daughter, Alexandra, fondly known as Lexi. By telling her story, the reader gets to know why Elin left Greece and felt compelled to keep her time there a secret. I enjoyed getting to know Elin and Lexi and the other characters and loved writing the novel. I have to leave them for now but I hope that one day you will be able to read their stories.
And so, I need to get to know the characters in my new novel as well as I knew Elin and
Lexi. The time period is earlier, at the outbreak of World War II. Mary Ann Evans, Annie, also lives in rural mid-Wales but her life is much, much harder than the comfortable upbringing experienced by Elin. Annie runs the household for her widower father and two brothers whom she idolises, as well as working long hours at the stables of the local manor house. She's a hard worker, feisty and very determined.
Even when his lordship refuses her offer to replace her brother as groom when he is called up to go to war, Annie is persistent and does not give up. When he does eventually agree, she is determined not to let his lordship down.
She is fiercely loyal and misses her mother especially later on at a time when only a mother would understand. When she is faced with a dilemma, she makes a decision that breaks her own heart rather than break her father's.
There are many ways to get to know your characters. I use coloured post cards on which I write notes about each character after creating character profiles. Much of the information will not be used in my story but the more background I have to each character, the more information I will have to inform how each character acts or speaks.
In her article 33 Ways to Write Stronger Characters, Kristen Kieffer discusses how to breathe life into your story by 'creating characters as real, tangible and complex as the people around us' in order to avoid 'caricatures and cardboard cutouts'.
How many of these do you use? How do you get to know your new characters?
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