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Monday, August 4, 2014

Characters: Our Best Friends

Does anyone not
love these characters?
Characters are everything to me.

Whether reading or writing, the first thing that has to happen for me to enjoy the book is I have to fall in love with the characters.  I love to love the good guys and love the hate the bad guys.  I want to fondly remember them months later, and regret that there's no more book left to read.

Why is that? Maybe it's the emotional investment we put into stories.  Characters push us along the emotional path much more easily than other story elements.  Settings, sights, sounds, and smells can tug at us, but unless we truly care about the characters' well-being, their victory over whatever obstacles they face, we scan the pages, skipping ahead until the characters (especially the main protagonist) finally hook us and we absolutely must read on.

I can manage to read a book all the way through without falling in love, but I won't enjoy it all that much.  Writing, though, is different.  Writing is a much slower process.  Even if pearls of inspired prose fall from my brain to the computer without any effort in the brain department (wouldn't that be nice!), it takes a whole lot longer to type and edit a story than it does to read that same story for pleasure.

A writer spends a lot of time with her characters.  I spend anywhere from three to six months on a novel and at least a week or three for short stories with my characters.  A reader might spend four to eight hours for a novel.  Big difference.  So if a writer doesn't love her characters, she's in for a long, tough haul.

My current project is one where I got lucky.  Caroline Clemmons and I brainstormed over the phone and we both came away with characters nearly fully formed that we both loved.  That's because we're writing a duet, Mail-Order Tangle.  Caroline's book (yes, they're both full books) is titled Mail-Order Promise and mine's Mail-Order Ruckus.  

Cover reveal!
(Unless Caroline already did...)
Do you like it?

This story starts with a mail-order bride (Ellie, Caroline's character), who brings her older sister Laura (my character) with her to Texas.  Things don't go precisely as planned, however.  Cousins Kage and Matt Johanssen make sure of even more complication.

Caroline is writing Ellie and Kage's story, set in Texas.  I'm writing Laura and Matt's story after he leaves for Owyhee County, Idaho Territory.

If you'd like to meet one of the characters, zip on over to Romancing The West.  I'm participating the Meet My Character Blog Tour thanks to Karen M. Nutt.  The character I introduced is Miss Laura Dickerson, heroine of Mail-Order Ruckus.

We haven't talked publicly about this project much because we both had so much on our schedules that we wanted to make sure we could get it done.  At this writing, we're both hovering or past the three-quarters mark so yes, it's a go.  Yay!

And you know what?  We both love, love, love all our characters.  I wouldn't have a problem hanging out with them even after the books are done.  It absolutely has to be that way!

When you read a really good book, do you think about the characters for days and weeks, even months, after you've read The End?


  1. How exciting to be writing a duo book! What fun you authors must be having! Can hardly wait to read the books by two very talented writers!

  2. Thanks for mentioning my part in our duet, Jacquie. I love both of these stories. And as for characters, I compare other heroes to Cole from MUCH ADO ABOUT MARSHALS. Love that series.

  3. Both of you are such great writers. This can be nothing but good from both.

  4. Wow! That's exciting. I'm happy for the two of you and I'm sure the result will be very interesting. I also prefer when I fall in love with one or more of the characters and I absolutely love to hate the villain. And I love history... so much so in fact that I'm known for checking the facts. :)

  5. Great cover! Good luck with the Tangle!


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