Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Building character

No, the title doesn’t refer to the personality-enhancing effects of a good spanking. It’s about coming up with a new person. A full-grown man with a profession, a childhood, a family, his own preferences, quirks, passions, beliefs, the whole three-dimensional deal. All of which is supposed to interact meaningfully with my heroine’s passions, preferences, quirks, etc.

And I can’t just recycle the domly attributes we all know and (some of us) love. He’s not going to be alpha. He’s neither rich nor powerful. He’s not even particularly good-looking. To all appearances he’s a decent guy who likes sports, works hard and drinks beer with his friends. There’s more to him, of course. He’s very smart, loves his work and has a secret. But I can’t just peel off variations of the usual dom clichés and stick them to the page.

I know where he was born, and how many brothers and sisters he has. I know what he does for a living. Beyond that he’s still a stranger. (He’s not very talkative, so getting information out of him is slow going.) Are his parents still alive? Has he ever been married? Has he dealt with bad times? What are his friends like? Is he a cat person, dog person, neither? What music does he like? Does he have a temper?

I need to get to know the man, because he doesn’t come from me the way my heroines do. I’m not them and they’re not me; the weave is different but some of the threads are the same. Mind you, I’ll probably confer some of my quirks onto the guy sooner or later, like the way Anders hates speeches. But the basic personality is going to be different, so coming to grips with it is delving into alien territory.

I’m not a hugely gregarious individual. There aren’t a lot of men I know deeply, apart from my husband. I did use his beer and blues knowledge in AST, but beyond that he’s not showing up in any of my books. So this is all pretty much pure invention. Making pure invention realistic and believable is a laborious process, at least for me. One more reason you shouldn’t hold your breath for Book Three.

1 comment: