I may have mentioned I enjoy role-playing games, specifically Dungeons and Dragons, though I have also played Traveler, Middle Earth, BESM, Mage and Feng Shui. The systems vary in mechanics, but in all of them you need to create characters to play. You also need to determine what your character might be good at, what they’re less good at, and how you want to focus a set of skills. When I start building say, a D&D character, I first determine what they do (D&D calls that a class). I currently play a fighter in one campaign, so her main statistic is strength. Because her focus is strength and she’s going to be fighting up close with swords, she needs to be pretty nimble to keep out of harm’s way, And so on. She’s not the brightest character on her team, but there’s a wizard in the group that brings a lot of intelligence to play. The rules will not let you have a super-duper-good-at-everything character. If you bring your character all the way to an Epic level in D&D, she’ll be pretty awesome, but she still won’t be good at everything.
When I create a character for a novel, I try to keep that kind of balance in mind. Partly because I don’t want to be accused of being a MarySue, and partly because I want to write three-dimensional, believable characters. A lot of times I start with a name. Sometimes I will look for a name with a particular–Zofia means “wisdom,” for example. Once I have a name, I can start getting a picture in my head.of what kind of person they’ll be like. Tall or short, slender or round, old or young. Age, race, education, general attitude, and because life revolves around books, what they like to read.
I sketched out a lot of Zofia’s past before I started writing Bloody Murder. I wanted to know who she was growing up, how her upbringing enhanced her good traits and exposed her bad traits. She doesn’t have a great relationship history. I figure with so many people (mom, dad, her brother) falling out of her life and her fiancee betraying her, she doesn’t trust too easily. That wouldn’t make for a lot of stability socially. She’s not the type to lean on people, with the exception of Marie, who has known her the longest. I wanted her smart, but not so smart she couldn’t communicate with the people around her, so she probably pulled B’s in classes she didn’t like and an A- in anything to do with writing. Except maybe poetry. I’m still learning things about her myself.
Feliz, on the other hand, wants to take care of the whole world, starting with her kids and ending with her customers. Maybe a little too much–when her kids hit their teens, we’ll see how well that worked. She acts like she has to make up for people not being there–James is on his own, so is Zofia, and she needs to be both mother and father to her kids. She seems to have no interest in romance, but that will change in a few books. I hope you’ll stay with me.
I suspect this will be a topic I’ll be coming back to. It’s fun to noodle over. Thank you for reading