Character creation is of course one of the very first things for any story. Who is the hero? or main character…what are they like? Their personality, habits and how do they make a living? Maybe these are the most important questions to build your character from. I know for me sometimes the personality of a character is already in my mind even though I have yet to form a physical appearance and such. For my detective Jordan Kade, I already had a personality in mind. She was going to be strong willed, stubborn, but a detective with faults that rose literally by things that happen regularly in her profession. Jordan can handle a gross crime scene, horrid human behavior and the like, but when she is face to face with victim’s families she is uneasy and feels out of place. I knew I wanted my strong female lead to dress in a specific way. She dresses professional but comfortable never losing a sense of who she is and is able to stay down to Earth by doing so. I knew also that I wanted her to be from a wealthy background, have everything including looks, that someone else could envy. And yet even with this being a part of who she is, she still relates to the average person. She works hard and loves to be helpful. She’s kind with her money and anything else she has to give.
So with her personality and habits already formed, how did I visualize the Detective? Hair color? Eyes? Body type? Body type was easy for me to decide on. I wanted her to seem perfect, at least in others’ eyes. Sexy and alluring, someone who could charm her way through things with her looks if need be. But I also chose for Jordan not to see what others do about her. Not oblivious just blind to it like we are to a lover’s faults.
Aside from all that, another important thing in building a character is how they relate to others. Let’s start with how I made her relate to her parents. Jordan was pampered and brought up with everything a child could want and or need. Spoiled and yet she did not let that define her and it doesn’t make her behave as if she is spoiled. Jordan’s mother tends to coddle her so Jordan tends to seek space from her mother. Her father however (a retired detective) is her mentor and Jordan still absorbs any and all knowledge her father has to give. She’s closest to him versus her mother, seeing as she learned his trait, his skill and became a detective in his footsteps.
Then there’s Alex. her best friend and confidant. A man who means the world to her even if he comes and goes in her life as if they were only acquaintances. She loves him deeply and always has. In some ways with Alex, Jordan is still the younger version of herself who was able to have fun and just live a bit…he was an escape from things in her life she feels she cannot handle. Alex is her rock, her other half.
Even with characters all can’t be peachy and enlightened. Is the real world this way? No. Creating Josh wasn’t hard. I wanted him to be an equal of sorts even if it doesn’t show so well that he matches her. Yet he is also the things Jordan is not. Wealthy now, but grew up poor and worked hard to achieve similar fame and success in his career as a bounty hunter. He’s cocky and can come off self centered. A pretty boy of sorts, who knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to show that. All of his behaviors, just the way he holds himself is a put off for Jordan. She dislikes him and its more than obvious. And while Josh likes the detective, it hides behind a facade of giving as good as he gets from her. Will they ever grow to like each other? Or will it be push and shove each time they meet? Ironically these questions I didn’t have answered in the beginning of “A Killer’s Saga.” The relationship between Jordan and Josh took it’s own turns and twists as I worked on the storyline.
Characters can be like that, grow, change or even become what you need them to, to complete the story. In the end what matters is if the characters fit the whole picture. I found that Josh changed mid story into someone and something more important than I envisioned him. That’s not to say he changed in the way of me scrapping who he started out to be, he simply evolved. Sometimes characters need to evolve in the sense of fitting what you may have changed about the story as it progressed. And that’s ok. It’s even ok to completely rework a character. Maybe one you came up with for a minor scene becomes an intergral part of the story.
Never be afraid to set a story aside long enough to get a new perspective on it. Rework characters and plots that need it, and ,make your story one that makes you proud. Build your characters until they feel real and not only become a part of you, but become someone you cannot forget.
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