Tag Archives: Writing tips

Coming Up with Characters

I’ve heard it said that fiction writers base some or all of their characters on people they’ve met. In my case, it’s true. Well, the personalities, anyways. Probably not the species. Mostly. I thought I’d give you a glimpse into how I came up with some of my main characters.

(Clicking on that photo will take you to the page where this mug is offered. I love gifts! ūüėČ )

As background: In my previous life and, to a lesser extent, my current one, I’m an administrative assistant. In addition to accounting and bookkeeping duties, I end up typing up correspondence for my clients who, although they own computers, can only hunt-and-peck at the keyboard. (Don’t get me started on proper formatting of a business letter!) Hence the premise for the books.

Anyways. As many friends have deduced, Amy’s personality is very similar to my own: a stereotypical Virgo. Her appearance, though, is definitely¬†not me!

Ev, Amy’s boss, is my former employer with a touch of another businessman I worked with for a while. (Neither of whom looked anything like Ev, but I did work for a while with a man who had a hygiene problem.) Not that I’ve ever known anyone to get into the pickles Ev seems to find himself in. Thank goodness.

Fudge, the familiar cat? Anyone who is or has been owned by cats will recognize him in one of theirs. In my case, he’s very much like my first cat, Boomer, who thought he was human. Although he never spoke English to me, the various tones in his meows and expressions on his face were easily interpretable. We had¬†conversations.

Amy’s boyfriend, Tony, comes from an old boyfriend of mine. Their appearance is even similar. No spoilers, but what happens to Tony happened to the boyfriend, too.

Gregory, Ev’s driver and bodyguard and, eventually, Amy’s mentor, is loosely based on a bouncer I worked with at a bar many moons ago. Cork, the owner of Amy’s favorite pub, comes from that same bar. (I have fond memories of that place…)

So, a peek for you into how I come up with characters. There are even more in Amy’s third adventure, which is currently at the editor’s (and, sadly, still lacking a title). Like the egotistical elf, whose prototype I also dated for a (very short) while.

Writers: how do you come up with¬†your characters? Readers: do you see anyone you know in a writer’s actors?

Dear Writer

//begin non-herb-related rant

I read … a lot. During the day if I’m not massaging numbers while wearing my accountant hat, I’m either researching or writing. That’s serious stuff so in the evenings, I prefer lighter reading. I enjoy many genres and love YA (young adult) fiction. It’s generally entertaining; usually a quick read; contains no erotica (which bores me); and doesn’t scare the crap out of me, influencing my dreams.

Technology has made getting a novel published as an e-book almost a no-brainer. Write your book, upload it to Amazon and/or Smashwords and voil√†! You’re a published author. If you want to be taken seriously (and perhaps make a buck or two off your writing), let me give you a few pieces of advice:

Pay attention to your English. This funny but correct poster shows many of the most common errors.

Don’t rely solely on your word processor’s spellcheck function – it doesn’t catch everything. My latest peeve: the verb chock means to immobilize a wheel with a block of something. (Picture the yellow blocks to the front & back of an airplane’s wheels to prevent it from moving when it’s parked at the gate. Those yellow things are chocks and the plane has been chocked.) Choke is what I’d like to do to you when you make this egregious error by placing my hands around your throat and squeezing. (Three of the last ten novels I’ve read have had characters “chocking” on their drink or “chocking” another character’s throat. Grrrr.) If you’re unsure of word usage, look it up!

Finally, proof your work! Then, if you don’t want to pay a professional editor, have at least one someone who has a critical eye and a good grasp of the English language read and proof it again. I read a book last night (no, I won’t tell you which one) in which the protagonist’s last name was spelled three different ways.

I’ll admit to being a stereotypical Virgo and blatant errors drive me nuts. More importantly from the authors’ perspective, I won’t spend my hard-earned money on anything else written by them, despite the enjoyable stories. I want to be entertained, not spend my evenings mentally correcting someone’s writing.

Especially if you’re writing YA fiction, remember that kids learn, in part, from reading. Don’t perpetuate bad English.

//end rant