The Importance of Believable Characters in My Novels

I’m a character driven author.

Ever since I first started writing essays and short stories when I was very young onward, characters are what matter most to me.

I’m intrigued by people’s different background, history and life choices. Behaviour, actions and ability to interact are fundamental to lead a satisfying life. But what happens if someone’s never had the opportunity to feel loved, secure and wanted? If they’ve been abused as a child or lost a parent at an early age? Not everyone’s childhood and adolescence is happy and filled with love, security and a sense of belonging. How will it impact on a person’s future and life? Significantly, is it possible to overcome past events and all kinds of upheaval and start afresh?

My characters lives are transformed when I place them in various situations that are out of their control. Their journeys and interaction are fundamental to the storyline. The characters are integral to the story and plot. Unless they come across as genuine and believable I’ll delete everything and start from scratch.

Dialogue is just as important. If I feel as if I’m there in the scene with them, feeling their pain and happiness chances are readers will as well.

People often ask me if I draw from my experience as psychologist. The answer’s partly yes and no. Naturally, my daily work with clients benefit me to an extent as I get to meet and counsel a variety of people whose personal journey inspire and motivate me. But that’s as far as it goes. My work is confidential and I would never base a character on a real person.

I’ve travelled extensively and meet a lot of interesting people whose lives and personal history never cease to amaze me. Living in two countries and cities contribute to writing multi dimensional characters as well. Observing what goes on around me, reading interesting articles and books also inspire me to come up with new novel themes and plots.

My characters are representative of real people and complex situations. When readers tell me they’ve been able to identify with a character and recall scenes and events in my books long after they’ve finished reading the novel, I know all the hard work and effort made a difference to them.

I always create and develop my characters first. I’ve got a premise for a story but the first draft is just an outline to get me to the the ‘finishing line’. I submit a final draft to my editor when I feel satisfied the novel’s the best version it can be prior to the editing process which commences after I’ve set aside my manuscript for a period of time to enable to get a distance and fresh perspective.

We don’t always recall who said what but we always remember how they made us feel. It’s the reason my characters are an integral part of my novels. If they linger in people’s minds and hearts I’ve done a good job.

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