"You're too young to know what love is. You don't love me. You're infatuated with me." -- Sir Aric, The Prince's Knight

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Building a Character Part 1

I've started working on my first holiday novel, A Christmas Dream. At first, I was having trouble coming up with ideas for the plot, but I think I've figured out the problem. It was hard for me to connect with my characters until I actually sat down and forced myself to write the first chapter. All I knew about my hero, Cayden, is that he's a Sandman, charged with delivering dreams to people. Well, how was I supposed to take that and expand it into an entire story? How did he meet the heroine? What were his intentions, interests, and goals?

I know plenty of authors prefer to sit down and map out every aspect of each character's personality, but I've never been able to work that way. Often, that means inconsistencies pop up during the first draft that I have to alleviate during re-writes, but I've never found plotting things out to be successful. For me, writing is very fluid. Things change from one moment to the next. Even if I decide I want my character to behave a certain way, that's really up to him in the end.

So I sat down and hammered out the first chapter, focusing on what I wanted to introduce in the story. Cayden's character would fall into place, and it has. I can see him clearly now, when I couldn't before. The boots helped. I wanted a distinguishing look for him, something Noelle would notice right away, something that would make her think Who is this guy?

The boots are a bit much for my taste, but they're unique and set Cayden apart. They'll also serve to give Noelle pause. After all, any guy that wears spikes on his boots could be automatically classified as a bad boy. (His black clothes and leather jacket don't help.) Such things make it hard for Noelle to trust Cayden, which is fine with him, since it makes it easier to keep his distance.

Once I had Cayden figured out, it was much easier to come up with Noelle's characteristics. In the first chapter, we're in Cayden's viewpoint, so we see Noelle through his eyes, which might be a bit biased. In the second, which is almost finished, the story takes on a bit of a horror spin, with Noelle fighting for her life. Now I'm looking forward to working on the rest. While Demon's Torment had horror-themed elements to it, it wasn't really as scary as I wanted it to be, since I focused so much on the romance. Hopefully things will balance out nicely in A Christmas Dream.