Welcome to the GWN blog! Today we have Bill Hopkins talking about creating characters.
Unlike real life, giving birth in fiction to characters can be as hard and complicated or as simple and easy as you make it. Follow along and do as much or little as you want. I’ll give you examples using my amateur sleuth, Judge Rosswell Carew.
- Make a biography for your character. We don’t need a multi-volume work. Just choose age, sex, work, height, weight, color of hair, color of eyes, physical characteristics, etc. JRC is medium height, bad eyes, supersensitive hearing and sense of smell, scrawny mustache, and average weight for a guy who’s almost forty.
- Next, what does your character want? Make it short, clear, and concise. JRC wants to be a detective because he’s tired of all the repetitious stories he’s hearing on the bench. And his theme in life is that being just is more important than being legal.
- What’s the background of your character? I don’t go into JRC’s schooling much because being “in the military” (no branch designated) made a bigger impact on him.
- What are your character’s quirks? JRC doesn’t like his sidekick to touch him, he’s touchy about the way people try to give him the nickname of Ross, he’s a perfectionist, and kind of a general PITA.
- What would it take to make your character suffer a gut wrenching moment? For JRC, it would be running out of espresso, missing a meal, or watching a friend die. He does, after all, care about people.
- How does your character talk? JRC has his own way of saying things, as do all the characters in my books. I try to make the dialog unique. If you heard it aloud, you’d immediately know which of my characters was talking.
- What’s your character’s name? Rosswell Carew is a name hard to forget. John Smith is easy to forget. But how about John Wayne Smith? Don’t give your babies dull names. (Frank Jones or Bill Hopkins). Don’t duplicate names (Annie and Annabelle). Don’t use the same letter(s) to start two or more names. (Max, Mike, and Mark shouldn’t exist in the same book).
- Have you interviewed your character? I’ve never interviewed JRC in writing, but I love that kind of blog. That sounds like something I need to do next!
Courting Murder: When Judge Rosswell Carew makes the gruesome discovery of two corpses on a riverbank in the Missouri Ozarks, he’s plunged into a storm of deadly secrets that threaten both him and his fiancée, Tina Parkmore. Unsatisfied with the way the authorities are conducting the investigation, Rosswell, who’s always nurtured a secret desire to be a detective, teams up with an ex-con, Ollie Groton, to solve the case before the killer can murder again. Rosswell uncovers a maze of crimes so tangled that he must fight his way to a solution or die trying.
River Mourn: Judge Rosswell Carew travels to Sainte Geneveive, Missouri, searching for Tina Parkmore, his kidnapped fiancée. When he witnesses someone tossed from a riverboat ferry, he’s plunged into a nightmare world he never knew existed. Rosswell is astounded when he discovers what he saw and the fate of Tina are intertwined. Unable to interest the local authorities in the case, Rosswell teams up with his faithful research assistant Ollie Groton to discover the truth. The excitement never lets up until the last page.
Available September 2013 from Deadly Writes Press
Bill Hopkins is retired after beginning his legal career in 1971 and serving as a private attorney, prosecuting attorney, an administrative law judge, and a trial court judge, all in Missouri. His poems, short stories, and non-fiction have appeared in many different publications. He’s had several short plays produced. A book of collected poetry, Moving Into Forever, is available on Amazon. Bill is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Dramatists Guild, Horror Writers Association, Missouri Writers Guild, and Sisters In Crime. Bill is also a photographer who has sold work in the United States, Canada, and Europe. He and his wife, Sharon (a mortgage banker who is also a published writer), live in Marble Hill, Missouri, with their dog and cats. Besides writing, Bill and Sharon are involved in collecting and restoring Camaros. Courting Murder is his first mystery novel.
Courting Murder by Bill Hopkins
A Judge Rosswell Carew Mystery
Southeast Missouri University Press
Publisher’s page: http://www6.semo.edu/universitypress/courting_murder.htm
Author’s website: www.judgebillhopkins.com
Author’s FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/judgehopkins
Author’s Page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bill-Hopkins/e/B008XM8L7G
Amazon order page: http://www.amazon.com/Courting-Murder-Bill-Hopkins/dp/0983050430
LinkedIn: Bill Hopkins
Cindy here again!
Great advice, Bill! I read a book once that had five characters with names starting with M. So confusing.
September 16, 2013 at 11:24 am
Those of us who grew up with Bill Hopkins figured he’d never amount to much.
Looks like he exceeded our low expectations.
Here’s a little background on Bill and Courting Murder.
September 16, 2013 at 11:28 am
Thanks, Cindy! And thank you, Ken Steinhoff!