Creating Characters and Places
To give readers a bit of a hint about the book that is being released this coming week I want to give you a bit of a sneak peek at the characters you’ll be meeting in The Secret of the Storm. To that end, I’m going to talk a bit about the main character in this book and how I created her and the fictional town of Slauson Cove. And forgive me if this seems vague but, I don’t want to give too much away for readers.
I spent a lot of time in my teens and twenties traveling the USA and into Canada. In fact for a while, I think my family feared that I would be a permanent nomad instead of settling down like they had hoped for me. During that time I did a good deal of traveling specifically in New England; visiting places like Cape Cod, Massachussettes and Newport, Rhode Island along with Philadephia, Boston, and New York. There were various things about these places that stuck in my mind and continue to do so today. Slauson Cove came from taking all of those elements that I came to love and weaving them together into a fictional place. From the local college campus coffee house to the stately historical homes, Slauson Cove was a bit of an ideal place for me. A conglomeration of all the things I had loved about New England towns. The lighthouses, the rocky beaches, and the quaint cottages.It wasn’t hard to imagine this town in my head with its sprawling hub of a town square and historical landmarks some of which aren’t put into the book at all.
You see, when I started creating this world there were so many details to the town and the people that comprised it that I wrote detailed descriptions of shops, offices, and even minor characters that come into play like the shopkeeper and his son that Elora meets when she is setting up shop at Walsingham Manor. The buildings in Slauson Cove have histories that are largely unknown but were important in my creative process. Coming up with the concepts are easy. Bringing them to life on the page is more difficult than people think. While you don’t use all the details in the manuscript, as the creator, you have to have them in your mind in order to keep things in a continuous flow. So in preparation, there was a good amount of “back-writing”, as I call it, so that those details were there if I needed them.
With characters it is much the same. I did extensive sketches of my main characters. When you meet Elora Castain she is a reporter for the Boston Globe who has worked her way up the ladder but, she is somewhat burned out on the job. It was never her real passion and the circumstances that she finds herself in give her a way out to explore her creative side. She’s more than happy to take the risk of starting over in her career in order to explore that part of her life.
I had an editor in the refining stages tell me that Elora came across as far too naive to be in the position she was in and living in a metro area like Boston. Personally, I refuse to think that there are not naive people living in bigger cities like Boston but, for the sake of the story I tried to rewrite certain elements in order to give her that city-girl edge at first. But with Elora, there is a sort of innocence that had to be explored. She discovers so much about her family’s history in such a unique way that it was, for me, important that the vulnerability show.
For Elora I did a number of sketches. I even wrote letters back and forth between me and the character that asked questions about her lifestyle, what she did know, what she felt when she discovered certain aspects of the history, and how she felt about the slayings in Slauson Cove. It was an eye-opening exercise that was used in another project that I was working on during the same time with a co-author. So, as people read the book, I might just release some of those research and developmental writings if people want to read them.
In my notebook there are sketches for characters that I didn’t even introduce in the book. There are notes for a sequel since so many of my beta readers wanted more after finishing The Secret of the Storm. Weigh in as you finish it and let me know if you’d like to see another volume. I’m open to the possibility of revisiting Elora and Slauson Cove. For now, get a sneak peek with the digital version via Amazon for the Kindle. It is available as a pre-release and the print version, if you prefer, is on the way soon.
Posted on May 24, 2013, in My Process, The Writer's Life, Writing & Publishing and tagged character sketches, characters, settings, The Secret of the Storm, TSOTS, writer life, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.