Whatever. Anyway, Yesterday was an amazing day. Today, I am just now getting the word out and telling people and…
It’s like this. And it’s all about creating characters.
Yesterday was the release day for KICKING IT, the anthology Kalayna Price and I edited. It did well (very well) on release day, in no small part to the efforts of my PR team and my street team and the efforts of Chloe Neill who has PR nailed.
Yesterday was also the release day of the new revamped (haha) website www.faithhunter.net . It is stylish and slick and I love it!
Yesterday was the day I turned in a proposal and character for a new series.
And Yesterday was also the day I turned in my notice that, after the first of the year, I will no longer be a full time lab rat. I went on fill-in part-time at the hospital. I am now a full time writer (with one toe in the lab pool so I have a way back if I am not able to swim in this full-time writing gig). Call me chicken. I am. But I am also brave. And terrified. And excited. It has been a long time coming. And maybe — maybe — I am ready for it.
For the purposes of this site, I want to talk about character. As in the new character and new series I am proposing to my editor. This new character doesn’t mean I am abandoning Jane Yellowrock or even Thorn St.Croix. The eighth JY book (BROKEN SOUL) is due to my editor the first of January. Two shorts about Thorn St.Croix are due the end of January. The proposal for the ninth JY book is due the middle of February. All important stuff. But it’s the new and untouched that is exciting. It’s calling me like a spell whispered on the breeze. And I want to share my process with you.
In creating a character, my very first step is to decide what I hope will happen to her in a commercial sense. Not the conflict sense. That comes later. The very first thing I decide is whether I am hoping for a standalone book and character or a series book and character.
When I was writing standalones, it was easy to character-create, because a character had to live only for 120K to 140K words. But I am writing series characters now. And I wanted to quit the full-time lab job, so I wanted this book to sell to replace lost income. Like, who doesn’t want that, right?
So I approached my agent and discovered that ROC was willing to entertain a two book series set in the Jane Yellowrock world, but not about any of the Jane characters. They wanted a new character in an urban fantasy world but not New Orleans or Asheville. What this meant was that the magical system would remain the same, but the world around it would change.
That meant I needed a back story that was involved enough to be constantly revealed over the course of two books, but not so deep as to require fifteen books to fully reveal, like Jane’s character. So, with that consideration already made, here are the steps I’ve taken so far.
1) Decide on backstory depth. This is the two-book part. If I had been writing on spec, I’d probably plan on a standalone and hope for three books, so this is pretty standard.
2) Ask a pal or two (who are currently starting new series) if they are using certain names as a first person character. I had hoped to use Grace (looking for an old-fashioned name) and, yes, it was in use. So I went with my second choice, Nell. Though that may still change.
3) Chose strengths and weaknesses. Working on that. And this is part of the story that I pants a lot, allowing the strengths and weaknesses to be revealed by the conflict development.
4) Decide on magical gifts. (This is a fantasy world after all.)
5) Decide on physical description. This still eludes me. I’ll never go for classically beautiful. All of my heroines are ordinary looking women. And in this case I may go for *very* plain. But I don’t need it for the proposal.
6) Create a conflict and a proposal with all that in mind.
7) Chose a location/setting that makes sense in light of all of the above.
8) Write five pages or so and see if I feel her. If I know her. And if I like her.
Well I’ve done all that and now the proposal is in the hands of my agent, and has been turned over to my editor. I am in the waiting stage. Waiting is hard. I am now ready to dive back into the BROKEN SOUL of Jane. But it’s harder than I thought it might be. Isn’t it always when you have a new shiny?
I can hear some people say, “Well, you have it easier than the unpublished among us. You have direct access.” And that is true. But the negative side of that is that I’m already thinking in terms of commercial sale, not the creative process. Already the idea is slightly tarnished with the words work and job and paying bills. And I am standing on the outside looking in, my creative freedom hamstrung, however great the result will be if the character takes off. And … just like anyone, I can be turned down.
Share with me how you do (or would) create a character if an editor handed you a few guidelines, based on the work you already have in progress. Can you twist your brain around it? Would it be easy? Harder than with total creative freedom? Share with me!