This week we’ve been asked if we have a formula for creating our protagonist/antagonist. I don’t. I’m not much of a planner when I write, though I am trying it out with my current project to see if that helps me to avoid getting stuck in a slump. When I write, I usually sit down and let the story come. I have a general idea of what the story will be about and maybe a glimpse about the characters but never any more than that.
When I sat down to write The Second Life of Magnolia Mae all I knew was that Magnolia would be a teenager who travels back in time. I didn’t even know she was going to be an orphan raised by her brother. Her strengths and her backstory appeared to me as I wrote. As I was writing I discovered who she was. A strong young woman with a deep connection to her family and the past.
While I was writing Love Overcomes all I knew was that Ara and Clara were sisters who were close. They’d travel together to Hollywood. I knew Ara was a single mother and that I wanted the sisters to be about ten years apart in age. It wasn’t until I was writing that Arabella and Clara really took form. Clara was the older sister, she was shy, creative, and always put her younger sister before herself. Ara had once been impulsive but after being in an abusive relationship she had withdrawn into herself. She loved her family and friends deeply but couldn’t bring herself to ever trust anyone outside her circle. The sisters came to me as I wrote. I didn’t even have an idea about how I wanted them to look.
I have tried setting up Pinterest boards with inspirations for my characters but it never works out. A few chapters in the hair color changes, eye color changes, the person I thought was going to be a store owner now runs a small bed and breakfast. The character who was an only child now suddenly has four siblings and twenty-five first cousins on one side of the family. I have found that when I write, the characters tell me who they are, not the other way around. It’s almost like getting reacquainted with an old friend.