Investment in Characters

5 Feb

I was talking to our barista the other day, and somehow the conversation came around to bucket lists.  One of the items on her list is to see a herd of wild horses running across a field.  I don’t know why, but that just seemed so random to me.  Never in a million years would I have thought of that as a bucket list item.

Then last night I watched a news special report on the BTK Killer, who, to all who knew him, just appeared to be the most normal neighbor and co-worker.  It was as though he was a random selection by nature to be this ghastly serial killer.

Now the reason I mentioned those two “random” thoughts is because, as a creative writer, I am always creating characters, giving them personalities, making them come alive in some sort of realistic fashion, and those two examples remind me that truth is often stranger than fiction, and I really do have the freedom to expand my thinking when I’m creating a “person” in a book.

I’m not sure if it is terribly important that a character be “believable” compared to my logical world; what I do believe is that we make that character someone we can invest emotional currency in.  In my Shadow series I have a character named Striker, who is a stone-cold killer, really completely unlike anyone you and I would ever meet in real life.  My job, then, is to transcend logic and make Striker so interesting that you, the reader, look forward to every scene Striker appears in, and forget that Striker is almost totally removed from our realities.

Does that make sense?

I think what I’m saying is don’t let logic stop you when creating characters.  Make the character interesting and people will accept the fact that reality has been suspended.

It is, after all, fiction we’re talking about.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

36 Responses to “Investment in Characters”

  1. Janine Huldie February 5, 2019 at 3:00 pm #

    What great advice and seriously love hearing how you write your novels and come up with the finer details, as well. Thanks for sharing and Happy Tuesday once again, my friend 🙂

    • Billybuc February 5, 2019 at 4:54 pm #

      Thank you always, Janine! I so appreciate your support and friendship.

  2. Greg Boudonck February 5, 2019 at 3:11 pm #

    Great tip my friend!

    • Billybuc February 5, 2019 at 4:55 pm #

      Thanks my friend! Have a great week in the sun and warmth.

  3. manatita February 5, 2019 at 3:41 pm #

    Beautiful! Extremely Beautiful!

    I also have news for you, of which you will concur, I believe. God is like that. In the process of evolution, there’s on onward and upward march of progress … of endless possibilities. The poems I do now are superior to my originals and what I do in the future, with the Master’s Grace, would be superior still.

    Here it is a Lila – a divine game – and we are meant to make full use of it. I believe that you understand and are doing your best. God speed!

    • Billybuc February 5, 2019 at 4:56 pm #

      I do understand, Manatita. I have grown so much in the past twelve years, and I feel so much growth awaiting me.

      Blessings always

  4. swalia February 5, 2019 at 4:39 pm #

    Characters can be inspired by real life characters or they can be totally a figment of the writer’s imagination. The talent of the writer lies in making them so interesting and relatable that they stay alive in the readers’s memories.

    • Billybuc February 5, 2019 at 4:56 pm #

      Perfectly stated, Shaloo…thank you for summarizing so well.

  5. marlenebertrand February 5, 2019 at 6:09 pm #

    It’s interesting that you mention Striker as being a character we look forward to seeing. I enjoy all of your characters and a story could be written about each one of them, but Striker “strikes” me as the most interesting character I have ever known.

    • Billybuc February 5, 2019 at 6:18 pm #

      Thank you Marlene! In this new book of my series, I have tried to give Striker more depth. I hope you like him after this next book is published. I think you will.

  6. 1authorcygnetbrown February 5, 2019 at 10:31 pm #

    Mark Twain was the one who said “Truth is stranger than fiction. but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

    • Billybuc February 6, 2019 at 2:45 pm #

      Very true, Donna! I love that I can suspend reality when I write….and still make it seem real.

  7. Kathy February 6, 2019 at 1:32 am #

    Nice article – random thoughts can spin into good stories. Thanks for sharing your writing. Always a pleasure to read.

    • Billybuc February 6, 2019 at 2:46 pm #

      I appreciate that, Kathy! Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Sageleaf February 6, 2019 at 3:06 am #

    Big Bro, I gotta say that your characters are believable and awesome. Compelling and multifaceted. You do so well with this and honestly, reading this gave me a fun idea about something I want to write. Ha! See…random things can generate such awesome ideas. You just never know where inspiration will come from. I was listening to a podcast and got three blog ideas in the way home tonight. Lol

    • Billybuc February 6, 2019 at 2:47 pm #

      Never a wasted moment with you, Lil Sis! Good for you with those blog ideas. Thanks as always for stopping by…winter just arrived here in Olympia. White and cold. Brrrrr

      Hugs coming your way

  9. Mike February 6, 2019 at 6:27 am #

    Hi Bill – I read one of your Shadow series novels. (Yes, I bought a copy.) And though Striker is not the protagonist. He is the character I remember. Then there was some girl cop, and some boy cop and the bad evil guy – I remember Striker.

    • Billybuc February 6, 2019 at 2:48 pm #

      There you go, Mike…my favorite as well, or at least the most fun to create. Thanks so much for buying one of my books.

  10. Shell Vera February 6, 2019 at 9:05 am #

    Thanks for the tip, Bill! For many killers, people are stunned to learn about their alter egos. I’ve never struggled to believe a character thankfully! When I come across a book I do, I will think of this post!

    • Billybuc February 6, 2019 at 2:49 pm #

      Thanks Shell….Bundy was our paperboy, so I have no problem believing in alter egos. 🙂

  11. Lawrence Hebb February 7, 2019 at 10:10 pm #

    Bill.totally ‘get’ what you’re saying. Making a character so ‘normal’ yet so different from the norm is hard at times, but it’s soooo enjoyable, especially when your character’s got a bit of a sense of humour!
    Have to admit, that’s what I like so much about ‘Joey’

    • Billybuc February 8, 2019 at 2:45 pm #

      I know you get it, Lawrence. That’s obvious by reading your work.

  12. Shannon Henry February 8, 2019 at 5:31 am #

    Bill, my friend, I will never ever under-estimate things like reality as compared to fiction. I have experienced the truth is stranger than fiction scenario more than I thought was normal for “normal” people. I think the key to a believable character is emotion. You’re right about connecting to the humanity of a character somehow. In my opinion, usually, that’s the emotion. Even when there is no emotion there has to be a way to express that through emotion, if that makes sense to you. It does in my head. But I’m a little weird sometimes. LOL

    • Billybuc February 8, 2019 at 2:40 pm #

      A little weird, Shannon? How about a lot weird? lol Which is why we get along so well. 🙂

  13. Lori Colbo February 9, 2019 at 6:07 pm #

    Well said.

  14. Dee February 11, 2019 at 12:29 am #

    What a great name for a cold-blooded killer: Striker. It fits and one can visualize the character clearly! Leave it to you, Bill, to come up with such a clever emotional link for readers.

    • Billybuc February 11, 2019 at 2:39 pm #

      Thank you Dee! I’ll tell you the story behind that name one day.

  15. phoenix2327 February 15, 2019 at 8:13 pm #

    I’ve just received the first two ‘Shadow’ novels. Can’t wait to get stuck in and meet Striker. Just to be clear, it’s curiosity that’s motivating to make his acquaintance, not excitement. lol

    • Billybuc February 15, 2019 at 8:16 pm #

      You are sweet, Zulma!Thanks so much for buying them. I’ll tell Striker you’re looking for him so he’ll know you are friendly. lol

      • phoenix2327 February 18, 2019 at 5:57 pm #

        I finished ‘Shadows Kill’ this morning. Striker’s interesting. I hope I get to see him again in the 2nd instalment. I’d like to give you my overall impression of the book, but my head is still in the world you created. I need a day or two to get back to the real world. That’s a good thing. If I didn’t like the novel, I could have left your world as soon as I closed the book.

        I’ll catch up with you soon.

  16. Billybuc February 18, 2019 at 6:09 pm #

    My goodness, Zulma, that was quick.Thank you for letting me know. Yes, Striker will return..slowly I give you a little bit more of him in each installment. I’m glad you found him interesting….talk to you soon…and thanks again.

  17. phoenix2327 February 18, 2019 at 6:19 pm #

    I started reading it yesterday afternoon and was about 3/4 of the way through when my husband turned off the bedroom light. I had to finish it which threw my daily routine out so dinner’s going to be a little late this evening. lol

    I liked all your characters and I’m not ashamed to say I shed a tear or two along with the characters who lost a loved one. Good story. Bill. Really good.

    • Billybuc February 19, 2019 at 2:44 pm #

      Music to my ears, Zulma! Thanks so much….now on to Shadows of Innocence. I’m so happy you enjoyed the first.

      • phoenix2327 February 19, 2019 at 3:01 pm #

        Yes, eventually. I’m still mulling over the first ‘Shadows.’ That’s the sign of a good story whether it’s a book, a movie or a TV show. I spend a lot of time thinking about it, particularly the characters.

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