Yesterday evening the Dakota County Library featured my book, Murder by Mistake, at their May event of the Minnesota Book Discussion. While there weren’t a lot of people present, and none other than me were authors, it turned out to be a most interesting and enlightening time.
One of the first questions posed to me was, “Why is Mollie such a wimp at times?” Now, to be honest, I never really thought about that when writing the book. However, as I listened to the discussion about that question, I realized I had made her that way for a reason. Mollie is the widow of a very controlling man and wants desperately to be independent and strong. She is, like many of us when working at something, guilty of sliding back for one reason or another. So, that’s what I told them.
Then, after many other questions about my characters, including why her brother-in-law, a would-be suitor, was nasty at first and then turned nice, I began thinking about all the major characters and the reason they acted in certain ways.
Before I start a book I always do a biography of the major characters, in this case the protagonist, Mollie, the hero, Bartholomew, and the killer. When I prepared to do this book, my bios were relatively short. Since then, I learned of a 52 question bio that covers absolutely everything anyone would need to know about a character, and that is what I use now.
But how about going a step further? Wouldn’t it make a book that much richer to look at each trait of a character and figure out why they do what they do? In Mollie’s case, it was a matter of not being able to remain strong one-hundred percent of the time. In the case of the brother-in-law, he normally was a nice guy, but saddled with debts he couldn’t pay and was desperate to find what he was sure his dead brother left for him. During yesterday’s discussion, at least one of the attendees wasn’t clear on that, so, perhaps if I’d gone into it more thoroughly, analyzed his character more, his actions would be more understandable.
On the other hand, one could analyze so much it would take forever to write the book. I wouldn’t want that to happen.
A couple weeks ago I talked about a female character that was the epitome of the bad guy, a person one could use as a basis for creating the villain or villainess. In that particular case, the reader is well aware of the woman’s faults, if you want to term evil as such. But, we do not get anything to let us know why she became that way. The author may have known exactly what caused her to become such a terrible person, but then again, he might not have. I think some tiny bit about the reason behind her behavior could help that book immensely, adding to what is already beautiful prose. As it was, I couldn’t help get the feeling she was like the little girl in The Bad Seed, born to be bad, and I don’t really like to think that about any human.
As I work on the bios for my next book that isn’t about Mollie, I plan on doing at least some analysis into the major characters. When doing the 52 questions, one of which includes a major event in a character’s life as a child, it might help considerably to do a good analysis of that. I’m not sure, but I am going to try it.
Joan K. Maze
Writing as J. K. Maze
Murder By Mistake, book 1 in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, available as an ebook from Red Rose Publishing, B&N, Fictionwise and Amazon
Murder By Mistake, book 1 in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, available in paperback from Amazon
Murder For Kicks, book 2 in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, available as an ebook from Red Rose Publishing, Fictionwise and Amazon
Framed In Fear, romantic suspense, available from Red Rose Publishing, Fictionwise and Amazon
Flight of the Hawk, shapeshifter paranormal novella written under the name Jaye Leyel
Murder By Spook, book 3 in the Mollie Fenwick Mystery Series, in progress