Confession time—I’ve been bingeing on Netflix the last week. Yes, I could use the excuse of hay fever/another cold and the need to rest. So, for a bit of mindless relaxation, I’ve been fed endless episodes of “Deadly Women”. I like crime shows, mostly not-so-real crime such as “Midsomer Murders”, “True Detective” and quirky ones like “Fargo”. Oh, and I do recommend Thrillers like “Bloodline”. Yeah, I could go on, see what I mean? I have been bingeing.
You might think, strange for a young-adult Sci-Fi (Indi) author. Not surprising, then, I’ve been considering dabbling in Crime Fiction. We’ll see…Meanwhile, there’s my travels with the T-Team to look forward to.
Anyway, the thing about “Deadly Women” and other crime shows is how they engage the audience to follow the story of the people involved, the characters. The key to the crime is what the characters want, what they really want, influences their actions, that, in time, lead to fatal consequences. For example, a woman who wants, above all else, wealth and an extravagant lifestyle, commits fraud and murder to fulfil her desires.
The question, what your character wants, can be applied to any story, novel in any genre you write. My previous post on Minna’s encounter with Boris came out of an exercise to get to know my characters and what they want most of all.
Understanding your character’s history helps the reader invest in your character and want to know them more. Whether they are good, like Minna, or an evil antagonist like Boris, exploring your character’s bio, and giving the reader a taste of their history, engages the reader in your character’s life-journey.
Again, the Boris story evolved for me as I delved into the murky depths of Boris’ life; how this alien cockroach as a power-hungry despot destroyed his own world through greed, and then sought to dominate many worlds in the galaxy in the quest to rebuild his empire. I also investigated why he singled out Earth and took revenge on her people.
Then one sunny day, as I sat on my back patio, I made a study of my characters; their personalities, backgrounds, and interactions with each other…and by the end of the afternoon, The Hitch-hiker evolved.
Novels, are about people—characters. Stuck with your novel’s progress? Writer’s block? Spend an afternoon developing your characters; interview them, find out what their interests are, their birthdate, parents, likes, dislikes, and what they want most. Soon you’ll have them all sitting at a table in a restaurant, discussing, or arguing with each other. You’ll see their story-lines weave in and out like a tapestry. Conflicts will arise, resolutions made with a twist, and villains and heroes will leap out from your computer screen, or page.
Our novels, our stories are life, and life is made up of people. The reality is, no one is an island. Even a convict in solitary confinement had parents, had a journey, a reason he ended up in solitary, and people who put him there.
So, getting back to my Netflix-binge; I’ve absorbed, but I have a take-away—even simple entertainment, the characters are the key. Get to know your characters, and they will give you a story.
Ask the question: What do you want most in life?
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016
Photo: Hiking, Second Valley (c) Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2012