I was thinking about character personalities this weekend as Monica, the heroine in The Biker’s Wench, started really coming to life. More specifically, I was thinking about how I really don’t “know” my characters until I start writing, and they start reacting to the stuff I toss at them. I normally have a general idea of who they are, and what’s going on in their lives at that moment, but back story and the core personality comes out slowly as I’m writing. Even when I do my scene outlines,the outline consists of what problems I’m going to throw at which character. Especially with the first few chapters, I find out how the characters will react as I’m writing – and their personalities evolve from that.
Monica is the sassiest heroine I’ve ever written. Imagine my surprise when she started telling people to go to hell – something I’d never do, and most of my heroines are either too polite or too scared to do. It’s a little shocking when your character starts using language and speech patterns you’re not entirely comfortable with…but at the same time, it’s exciting too.I like strong, self-reliant heroines, so mine always tend to be that way, but they’re normally more the quiet, thoughtful type. Monica is not quiet. She’s impulsive. She tries to be practical, but at the end of the day, she follows her heart, even when it gets her into trouble. I didn’t see that coming, but I’m really intrigued to see where it will lead.
My heroes surprise me too – but not as much. I like guys (even just as “guys”), and I’ve had a lot of male friends over the years, so I’m not often surprised by how my heroes turn out. In my experience, some of the toughest guys are the most loyal and loving – and that plays out pretty easily on the page for me. I often have to ask myself what my heroine would do in a situation – but I rarely have to ask what the hero would do. And I’m okay with that. I want readers to fall in love with my heroes,and so far, that seems to happen more often than not.
When/how do you get to know your characters? Who’s the last character that surprised you? Do you have a favorite “core” personality to start with, or are your characters always different from each other?