What’s the Craziest Thing You’ve had a Character do?

I’m sure some of y’all are going to give me that crap about only doing things that move the story forward blah blah blah. I don’t care. This is a very simple question. If you haven’t had your character do anything crazy, then it is very easy to not comment.

With that being said, I really don’t think I’ve ever had any of my characters do anything too out of the ordinary. There was a pretty crazy shootout at his house during the middle of the night and another main character killed a couple guys who likely would have done the same to her if she hadn’t killed them first. But that stuff happens in crime novels all the time. Which is why I don’t really think either of those is particularly crazy.

And I don’t think I’d make Andrew or Sydney do anything crazy just for the sake of doing so. Who knows. I don’t.

So what’s the craziest thing you’ve had a character do?

PS: I decided to write about this topic not because of something I’m writing, but because of some personal experience. I was watching my skydiving videos when I thought of it. And decided I’d share those videos with y’all just in case you’ve never been fortunate enough to jump out of a perfectly good airplane. The first video is from July 15, 2011.

The second is from August 15, 2011.

And oh by the way, I don’t actually think skydiving is crazy. Only people who’ve never done it think that.

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Do Your Characters Sleep?

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Seems like an odd question, right?

I was lying in bed just a few minutes ago when I thought of this topic. I know for certain that James Patterson’s characters sleep. Because Detective Alex Cross is often woken from his sleep to get to a scene or by something happening inside his own home. I also think Spenser and Harry Bosch sleep in their stories. But that’s about all I could come up with. Three characters written by three different authors.

Isn’t that just a little odd? Sleeping is something that everyone must do, but it doesn’t happen often in books. At least not the ones I’m reading. I know Andrew sleeps in my book. I think I probably ended three chapters with him going to sleep after a long day. And that’s really what I’m talking about here. I’m not expecting to have these characters sleep in every chapter or something. But I do think it’s possible that authors sometimes forget that these are supposed to be people. Sure there fictional, but how many characters do we see coming to TV or movies every year?

Just a thought.

Do your characters sleep?

Are you Writing Real People Into Your Stories?

I’ve been really open about the fact that I love using real people as characters. At least I think I have been. Or perhaps I’ve only said  that I like using their names? I don’t remember. Anyway, I think doing so makes for solid characters. Cause at the end of the day you want people to relate to your characters, right? Right.  And I’m not saying that my characters are 100 percent biographical when I base a character on a person, but they are a little bit. Maybe I’m just cheating.

For me, we all know that every individual person has their own personality and belief system, so why not transfer that from real life onto the pages of a book? Assuming the person grants you permission, of course. Tell me what could be more fascinating than to have a writer you know ask you if they can base a character on you. It would depend a little bit on the story and a lot on the quality of the writing, but I would be ecstatic. Seeing parts of your odd personality on the pages of a book, how cool would that be? Maybe you have a very distinct laugh. Or maybe you do this thing with your hair in certain situations. Or perhaps you have a shoe obsession. Just small things that anyone can recognize.

The people I’ve chosen to use as characters are all completely different from one another. Gender. Race. Education. Personality. I believe they make for great characters to write, but also to read.

So tell me. have you ever based a character on someone you know?

Characters and Their Sports

I’m not talking about characters and their favorite sports to watch, I’m talking about characters and the sports they’ve played at some point in the past. I know not every genre does this, but it seems just about every detective novel I read the MC has played a particular sport at a younger age. I don’t see anything wrong with this, but I’m wondering if it’s just what I read or if it’s a bigger thing.

The two sports I know some of my favorite characters have played/participated in are baseball and boxing. I can think of one character who was a minor league baseball player until injury ended his career. And another character who was the top amateur boxer in his state. Maybe you’ve even read or written a character who still plays a particular sport? I haven’t seen that because after all, how many people are still playing a sport after being done with school.

Have you read or written characters who have played sports?

Characters in Their Free Time

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Photo Credit: The Best News

I don’t know about you, but my characters tend to have a little bit of free time during the course of their stories. In my experience reading PI novels sometimes all one can do is wait and see what happens. And I’d have to say that that’s also the case in most stories. I mean, Harry Potter has plenty of free time in his stories, right? And if a boy wizard who has Voldemort after him can have free time, then so can your characters.

Now let’s see. In my first book I had my characters go for a run, watch sports on TV, watch the news on TV, lay out by the pool, read, and probably a bunch of other things I can’t remember off the top of my head at two in the morning as I write this. To me, that sounds pretty normal. For them to be doing things that you’d expect any typical person to be doing at a given time. But your character probably also has hobbies. See, that’s the thing. I’m NOT only talking hobbies here, I’m talking what is actually described in the text. Sure it’s nice that your character likes long walks on the beach at sunset, but that’s not the discussion we’re having. I’m talking about actions.

So tell me, what do you have your characters do during their free time during their stories?

Oh, Andrew also enjoyed a nap and had a quick gym session in my book.

Why are Protagonists Always Damaged in Some Way?

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Photo Credit: American Salon

Just a picture of my favorite protagonist in the history of all history to start this post.

I wanted to write this post from the perspective of a writer, but I soon realized that my perspective as a reader would force its way into the writing of this post, so you’ll get both. Let me tell you what I’m talking about when I say “damaged.” There is always something that the protagonist of a story has to deal with that makes a case more difficult to work or makes whatever goal s/he is trying to achieve that much more unattainable. But why is this? Why can’t characters be regular people who have to deal with something extraordinary during the course of the book?

In a very non-scientific analysis, I decided that I’d think of some of the series I read to see how many of the protagonists are broken in some way or another. I won’t name any of them, but let me tell what I came up with.

One guy’s mother is murdered when he’s a child and he becomes a detective. Decades later, the mother of his daughter is murdered during the course of an investigation.

Another guy is shot while on the job as a patrolman and the bullet is left inside of him due to its proximity to his heart. This is referred to in every book.

Another guy’s wife is murdered due to his work as a detective. Killer never apprehended.

Another guy’s wife is in broadcasting and after divorcing him, she starts to do whatever it takes to move up in her line of work. All while claiming she will always love him. He secures a Chief of Police job on the other side of the country after going to the interview drunk. The city figures they’ll be able to control an idiot.

Do you see my point? Sorry these are all detectives, but there are more examples I could point out from my own reading, but I have a post to write.

I’ve even been told that my character, Andrew Banks, is too squeaky clean and that he needs some damaged history, otherwise the reader is less likely to become invested in him. Huh? I mean, when I set out to write him (he’s me, which y’all should know) I did so wanting him to be different. Real. Not the guy with all the answers and being some expert at this or that. Just a regular guy who does his best at his job. And what did some of my readers say?

He’s independently wealthy.

He’s arrogant.

He’s a bad detective.

His relationship with Sydney is a joke.

He thinks he’s better as one person than an entire police department.

First off, none of these are correct. The only one that I think even warrants any kind of response is the first on the list. Some readers have come to their conclusion that he’s some rich guy parading around the city of Houston because of a very short list of things. He doesn’t charge his first client anything for working her case. He happens to wear a Polo once during the course of the book. And he doesn’t tell the reader constantly about not having any money.

I’m not going to explain away the notion that he’s independently wealthy because those are the things right there that readers have told me that make him appear so. If you think someone is wealthy because of that list, then your definition of wealth is not the same as any other. And you probably need to check your head for irregularities.

Back to my point, what makes a character more likeable just because s/he has a bad past? Because to me, a great character is a great character. Period. I won’t change my character to fit some literary expectation or whatever you want to call it, because he is who he is, and that’s all there is to it.

The Faces of my Characters

ImagePhoto Credit: Scholastic

I’m really starting to realize that blogging is all about copying someone else. Cause this is another post that I’ve seen on another blog in which the author introduces you to their characters via pictures and short descriptions. Well, time for y’all to meet mine! Even though I think I can count on one finger how many of my followers have actually read my book. But, let’s talk about them anyway.

Andrew

Andrew Banks is the protagonist of my stories. And he’s me. But physically we aren’t the same. If you happened to read my post from yesterday you’ll see that. He’s taller. Bigger. And he’s White. I thought of finding a picture of me to use for this anyway, but I realized that I don’t take pictures. Ever. So you’ll just have to use your imagination for him. I’d call him a mix of Mark Wahlberg and The Rock.

He’s smart. He has a master’s degree in criminal justice. He’s 27 at the start of the first book in the series. He’s never left the city in which he was born, Houston. He struggles with decisions that force him to put his morals aside. He has an inherent need to help every person who walks into his office. He has a library of books in his office that he uses to pass the time when he’s not working on a case. And he would rather die than see harm come to his longtime girlfriend, Sydney.

Sydney

Before I talk about Sydney the character I have to talk about Sydney the girl you see here. Just a little. Don’t ask me what that face is, cause I don’t know. Ha. I let her pick the picture and this is what I got. I think she was trying to represent her character when she took this? Maybe. Anyway, pretend that she didn’t have her glasses on here. And look at her eyes. Seriously, I’ve probably told her eight million times how wonderful they are. Not even kidding. I mean, blonde hair, blue eyes is great and all, but blonde hair, green eyes is SO much better! There’s a lot more to her than her eyes, but that’s all you get by way of intro. Just look at them one more time before reading on! Okay, you can continue.

Sydney the character looks exactly the same as Sydney in the picture. And she’s highly intelligent. She’s a nurse. She’s overly sarcastic. She’s independent. She’s absolutely hilarious. She’s a little moody at times. She gets jealous REALLY easily. I’d say it’s her height. She’s little. She wants to protect Andrew as much as he wants to protect her. She cooks. She’s fit. She makes Andrew carry her around. A LOT. And she wears the pants in their relationship. And she’s always reading something. No wonder they get along so well. AND she’s my favorite character I’ve written. She’s 22 at the start of the first book in the series.

Nathan

I’m not sure how we got polar opposites with these pictures here. One is more playful and this is like “THIS IS MY SERIOUS FACE.” Ha. Again, I let him pick the picture. I only stipulated that it show his hair clearly. He claims to have great hair. You be the judge.

Nathan the character will be known to you in the book as Fox. He’s a homicide detective working with the Houston Police Department. He looks like this guy you see here, but imagine about 25 years older. I aged him in the story in order to give him a bit of experience working in the criminal justice system. He met Andrew in college and they remained in touch afterward. He also has a master’s degree in criminal justice. He’s English. His cubicle at police headquarters is covered in Liverpool memorabilia. He’s Andrew’s go-to guy for everything when it comes to a case. Fox is the guy who will ultimately vouch for Andrew in the event something catastrophic happens.

Hunter David

ImageThis is not someone I know. This is a picture of IFBB pro bodybuilder, Jay Cutler.

Hunter David, on the other hand is the bad guy. I won’t tell you much about him other than a few things. He’s a millionaire. He’s bad. And he doesn’t care what happens to anyone in his way. As I wrote the story, this picture is exactly what I had in mind for him.

Alejandra

ImageHere we have a picture of Melanie Iglesias. Can you say breathtaking? Cause I can and I will. She is breathtaking. Okay, I’ll stop.

Alejandra is a major minor character. She’s the mother of Andrew’s first client, who’s quite young. I wasn’t going to include her in this post until I realized I had the perfect celebrity to match what I came up with in the book. She is Melanie up there. I mean, the first time Andrew meets her she has on an eerily similar outfit. Andrew even makes a remark during the course of the book that she knows she makes other women self-conscious instantly. I don’t have much by way of character traits and things of that nature. She cries. She laughs. She hugs Andrew. Multiple times. That’s about it.

So there you have SOME of the characters from my first book. It’s clearly not an exhaustive list, but it’s sufficient for this post. What do you think of these wonderful faces?

Photo Credits: Healthy Celeb

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