Question #3 from my fellow Book Bum Workshop authors: What are you looking to tackle next year?
Answer: Write and publish two novels, each in a different genre, both the second book in a series.
How will I do that? Identify the theme. Outline the plot. Create the characters. People want to read about people. As the author and creator of their world, I must know my characters as well as I know myself.
Live in their skin. Be in their heads. Think as they do. Hear them speak in their unique and individual voice. Listen to the words they choose to express and explain, react and interact. The syntax of phrases, sentences and grammar that I will write between quotation marks on the pages.
What do they see when they look in the mirror or glance at their reflection in a storefront window? Are they comfortable in a suit and tie? Or does the tie immediately come off when the need to wear it is gone? Are flat-soled shoes preferred over high heels? What’s their favorite color and comfort food? Do they have or have had a pet? Where were they born? Where and how do they live? Are their parents living or dead? Does the character have siblings and if so are they close or estranged? Who do they love? Are they married, divorced, or widowed? Are they alone by choice or circumstance? Do they have or want to have children? Who is their best friend? Are they highly educated or a high school drop out? Are they employed, self-employed or unemployed? Do they love or hate their job?
What motivates them? What to they want to change or remain the same? What are they willing to do or sacrifice to maintain the desired status quo or reach a lifelong goal? How far will he or she go to get what they want? How are they flawed?
For me, character description is the most important element in the preparation process. Knowing who these people are helps me name them, define them, relate them to one another and link dialogue to their actions. Through their character descriptions, I introduce you to the protagonists of “Capital Strings”, a political thriller set in and around Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario.
I am what I always knew I would be. Alec Martin, the second son of a second son and third generation RCMP officer. But not what my mother Emma or dad Staff Sergeant Daniel Martin, retired, wanted me to be. Mom’s dream for her fraternal twins was Doctor Martin and Juris Doctor. It didn’t matter which of us, me or my sister Dana, firstborn by five minutes, was the M.D. or J.D. I could have been either. But Dana was the first to ask Santa Claus for a chemistry set. So I let her go to medical school while I set off like the good son I am, or rather was, for the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law. I graduated top of my class as I had done back home in Nova Scotia at Liverpool Regional High School. My parents’ pride turned to disappointment when I immediately left for Regina, Saskatchewan and eight hundred twenty hours of cadet training. I tried to take the sting out of my decision by telling them that I could always go back and pass the bar exam if a career in law enforcement was not for me. But Dad knew better. “Once a Mountie, always a Mountie,” he said. “Go be a damn good one.”
I’m Jerilynn Connor Martin and I know exactly who I am. Proudly Canadian born thirty-four years ago, the only child of Jerry and Lynn Connor, late in life newlyweds who prayed to conceive me but didn’t think they could. Surprise! They were so elated my mother’s stomach upset was more than just chronic indigestion they morphed my name to combine theirs and celebrate my odds-defying birth. Every book I’ve read, every university degree pursued and earned, every person I’ve met, confidence I’ve kept and secret shared brought me to this place and moment in time. Here is where I belong. I live in the capital city of the best country in the world. I tap every nugget of education and experience working long days for the people of Canada and the Liberal government and party led by my boss Prime Minister Evan Reid.
Who is Evan Reid? I ask myself that question every morning, before every briefing with the ministers in my cabinet, every sitting of the House of Commons, every news conference and meeting with the premiers of each and all ten provinces and three territories. I am the husband of a woman as strong as she is beautiful. My Angeline, mother to the three most precious gifts of life and joy I could have dared hope for, put her own talents and ambitions on hold for mine. I am the son of a great man who to me and my brother Jon was just Dad, whether he was introducing us to royalty or showing us how to properly clean a fish. I am a teacher eager to share what I’ve learned with the young people that are the future of our country and the world. Who is Evan Reid? The answer that rarely comes to me is the most important to the most people. I am the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Canada. The second question I ask myself every morning is how the hell did this happen?
My stories begin and end with the people in it. I am the conduit that tells their story.
Next, I’ll explain how and why it’s the characters that choose story point of view and when to know to type The End.