Writing Characters You Love

… even if you love to hate them.

I started writing back in middle school. My best friend at the time liked to write and I thought that it seemed like an interesting thing to do. That it might bring us closer together as friends. It backfired spectacularly due to reasons and I was a horrible writer right off the bat, but I grew and I learned. I made new writing friends. And I spent a lot of time and many years writing other people’s characters in other people’s worlds as a way of practice. It took me a long time, years in fact, to step beyond writing fan fiction and the couples I loved in fan fiction and to create characters that I made up, that I loved.

Because to me more than anything, writing, story, is about the characters. And if I don’t love the characters, I don’t have a story. (This is a problem with my half-demon urban fantasy story. I love the setting because what’s not to love about San Francisco, but I don’t have characters I can embrace with my entire heart.) When I sit down with a book or a fan fiction or to write, I want to become friends with the people on the pages/screen. I want to escape into their adventure. I want them to become comfortable old friends that I can sit down and have a good long heart to heart with.

This is why fan fiction is so easy and so addictive. There is an original work, a canon, that other creators and writers have already come up with. There is a world. And there are people in that world you already know and love. It is easy to write more stories with those characters because you’re so familiar with them. You want to see more of them or see things that they didn’t show you in the canon. (Fan fiction is a wild and crazy world, enter with caution.)

The werewolves of the Heathens were really the first time since middle school that I fell in love with a group of characters of my own devising. There were other groups of characters that I loved, Wraith Squadron of the Star Wars EU for example. I loved the characters of Anne Bishop. There were bits and pieces of character dynamics in the Mercedes Thompson series I enjoyed. But this was my group of moist/hard nosed wise asses and that made a huge difference.

When I came up with these characters while I was researching wolves and werewolves and putting together my world, I was very clear to myself on what I loved about writing and how I wanted them to be like. I wanted them to be adults, facing adult problems. I wanted them to be a group that loved to give each other a hard time. I wanted them to be a family that squabbled but always made up in the end because they love each other. Most of all I wanted them to be funny, somewhat over the top, whacky fun weirdos you can relate to. Because those are the types of characters I enjoy.

The amazing thing about having characters you love, truly love, that there ends up being no end of the stories you can tell with them. (Even if you start straying into second generation stories, but there are people who like that sort of thing!) That’s what makes me excited about having this group of weirdos. I have so many stories I want to tell with them and so little time/mental/emotional energy!

When you write characters you love, it really does show on the pages/screen of your book/novel/story. They come alive to the reader.

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