Cue the Characters

Each new character who shows up in a story presents herself in a certain way, almost like an actor making her first entrance on the stage. She might sweep her long, blonde hair off her shoulder, or give me a glare, or stand with her hand on her hip waiting for me to say the first word. Or she could flounce into the middle of the page and declare her ownership of the entire story. I always have the feeling she’s been looking for me and is a little impatient with how long it’s taken me to find her.

Our introduction is a kind of dance, perhaps with veils. She makes herself known to me in little gestures. She might lick her lips before she speaks; she might be one of those women who’s always putting her fingers in her mouth, a trait I find a little appalling, particularly if she works in the food industry.

It’s likely that I’ve seen this woman before, or pieces of her. She’s probably been lurking around the edges of my imagination for a while waiting for her cue. It’s sometimes strange to live with so many people in your mind, but you get used to it. After a while, you like it. I’m constantly collecting people’s traits and quirks, the way some people collect shells and rocks. Only I don’t run out of shelf space to store them.

I am currently editing a new Sam Lagarde mystery. Several women characters in the novel seem very familiar and some I’ve never met before. Perhaps each character has its genesis in my own psyche but very soon they are doing and saying things I would never do, off on their own, having a great time creating havoc. They get to do things I would never do. Or would I? Pushed to the very edge of sanity, would I kill to survive? The women characters in my novel discover whether they will or not.

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