Characters First

When I write a story, I begin with the characters, because without them there would be no story. The story is theirs; it’s my responsibility to get the characters and story on paper.

In the current story, Avatar of the Maker, there are three main characters: the sheltered but headstrong eighteen-year-old Leah Inhofer; her devoted half-Archetype boyfriend Baird Wilkens; and Luke Dunstan, a six-thousand-year-old Archetype.

From there, I want to know what their motivations are. Leah’s is to be independent, which seems contradictory to having a child on the way. Baird’s is to support Leah, however possible; another goal is to find his way into a human adulthood. Luke’s goal is to keep a calamity in the Archetypes from happening, weighing potential harm to Leah and her unborn child with harm to humanity if she doesn’t act.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on

It’s necessary to get their speech cadence, their mannerisms, their word choice, all the things that make the characters distinctive and alive. Luke keeps pulling his blond hair back in a ponytail and letting it loose. Baird ducks his head sometimes because he’s shy. Leah talks emphatically; Baird talks in a slow drawl. Leah braids her hair tight. Luke’s accent is Yankee.

When I feel comfortable with these, I feel much more comfortable putting in the plot.


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