Dealing With Characters

Verawenda Renée Erickson Gouache and marker pen on canvas board Drawn by author, circa 1975 Modified 2007
Verawenda Renée Erickson
Gouache and marker pen on canvas board
Drawn by author, circa 1975
Modified 2007

During a bout with the flu in January, I began constructing the story outline for Verawenda Erickson’s next story. I saw her with both new characters and old ones—the latter familiar to me. The new ones were sketches, barely walking and talking those two months ago. Some didn’t have names.

I put them together and let them play off each other, seeing their actions and reactions in my mind. Some played well together; others didn’t while I took them through the measures of acting out the story I planned for them. Some even balked at doing what I wanted them to do. Nothing tests an author’s tolerance more than stubborn characters who don’t want to go by the script.

Some characters can even take over a story and bring a book’s production to a standstill with their demands to change the script to match their desires. I’ve heard that some authors kill off these demanding types just to get the story back on track. Other authors give in and sometimes end up writing a better story than they’d planned.

There’s an adage among authors to keep the character pool to a bare minimum. This helps keep down the noise of their demands. It’s confounding trying to direct a stage of overzealous characters who’ve developed giant egos and are always interrupting production. It’s all “Me, me, me,” and “She has better dialogue than I do.” Perhaps this is why so many authors drink excessively while they write. Luckily, I’ve been able to keep away from the booze and other drugs.

Also lucky for me is having a main character who does everything I ask of her without question. Vree tackles every scene with gusto and keeps it real. She is probably the best character I’ve ever breathed life into. Characters like her are the reason for trilogies and series stories. No author ever wants to lose them. They’re the reason readers come back for more. Add a great story every time and the rest is a relationship that can last for many years.

Long live Vree and characters who make stories real.

Published by

Steven Leo Campbell

I am an artist and indie-author. I draw and paint wildlife, draw cartoons, and write mostly paranormal fiction featuring Vree Erickson and a strange Pennsylvania town called Ridgewood.

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