I’ve been thinking about Book #2 of the Texas Royalty series for about two months now, sort of trying to get into the heads of the characters. So this week, I sat down and started to put a few words on paper.
In many ways, creating people is a fun part of writing a book. Since my books are character-driven stories, I give the story people a lot of thought. My heroes are all alpha men who have to be heroic, even if they sometimes aren’t that likeable at first blush. Luke McRae in THE LOVE OF A COWBOY, for instance. My heroines have to have the strength of character to be worthy of the heroic hero, which is sometimes more challenging than creating the hero.
I usually start by building the hero’s family tree. I try to take it back two or three generations. In that span of time, a lot can happen to alter and re-make the lives of family members. My books are contemporaries, so I have to address in my mind the different historical and political events that influenced my hero’s ancestors as well as current events. Because indirectly, those things would influence how he was raised and the environment in which he lives in the present.
For example, hero Bob might have a grandfather who could have been at Pearl Harbor, or might have been a soldier in WWII. Or he might have been a casualty of WWII. If so, this occurrence might have left Bob’s grandfather’s widow less well off and she became a penny-pincher. Thus, it might influence how she raised Bob’s mother or father, which would then influence Bob in some small way.
Or Bob might have a father who’s an embittered Viet Nam vet addicted to drugs and alcohol, which would bring yet another set of challenges into Bob’s life and influence his attitude. ….. Or someone in his family might have a lingering or fatal disease, which would bring something different to his life. Or maybe one of his relatives won the lottery! There are also natural disasters to consider. You get the idea.
Unfortunately, I’m not one of those storytellers who can just pluck an idea out of the air and build a story. All of my stories are rooted in characterization. From there, the synergy, where one ingredient evolves from another, GMC (goal, motivation, conflict) and plot all come together organically. My story people are grounded in realism. I feel it makes them more interesting and gives them more depth. It also supports the premise from which I write. I wish I could write fantasy, which is so popular now, but it just doesn’t come to me.
So there you have it. My book skeleton. And hopefully, by the time I’m finished with all of this fussing, I’ll have the makeup of the story people fixed in my head and can move forward. Hopefully, those pesky characters won’t jump up and surprise me on page 300 and cause me to have to re-write the whole book.
If you’re still reading this, I know most of your are probably groaning and rolling your eyes by now, and thinking I’m crazy. In fact, as I write about this, I’m starting to think I’m crazy. But this process isn’t as convoluted and confusing as you might think and it doesn’t require as much detail as it seems to when describing it.
I should add that I don’t consider myself an expert and am not trying to tell anyone else this is the way to approach beginning a book, but after sixteen books, I’ve sort of accidentally developed an almost system that works most of the time.
Wow. And that sentence falls into the same category as a “definite maybe.” LOL