It’s always a pleasure to welcome award-winning author Terry Spear back to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger as she tours blogdom.
Terry’s soon-to-be release is HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: Ian McNeill, laird of Argent Castle finds his capital squandered through unwise investments and the wolf clan's home that has been theirs for centuries is in danger of being forfeit for nonpayment of taxes. When a movie producer contacts him with the notion of using his castle to produce a movie, Ian abhores the idea, but it's his only salvation. Even worse, his people become extras in this epic Highland movie. But when one American werewolf romance author, Julia Wildthorn, slips into the castle under the guise of being with the movie company, except she is trying to jumpstart her muse with writing a book set in old-world Scotland--specifically about his castle and his people as the characters in her newest book venture--she and Ian tangle.
Terry stopped by today to talk about ‘Getting It Straight in the Highlands’ when creating her intriguing characters.
Mason asked me to talk about how I create my characters—name, physical description, traits; the order, which is the hardest, etc; and do I keep a journal or log of my characters so that I don’t overlap.
First, thanks so much for giving me a topic, Mason! After writing so many blogs for different sites, it’s hard for one person, like me, to come up with something new! So thanks!
First, I create names for my main characters. I often use the Character Naming Guide, although in some cases I’ve seen a name somewhere and loved it so much that it becomes a character’s name. But often, I select a character’s name based on something more.
Here are a couple of excerpts from HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF that explain some of the character’s names.
“The most optimistic of his quadruplet brothers, Cearnach’s name suited him—victorious or warrior from the woods. Ian believed their mother had to have known something of their personalities before they were even born through some kind of innate knowledge—all except for Ian himself. He was the gift from God. And look where that had gotten them. He assumed his mother had named him as such because he was the first born of the four brothers. She was probably relieved to birth the first of them and get the whole thing over with.”
They are quadruplets! And another excerpt:
“Guthrie, like his name, could no more be harnessed than the wind, free to willfully roam where it would.”
And the other brother is Duncan, the dark warrior. So for each of the brothers, I picked out special names that would help to define their personalities.
Cearnach is almost always happy-go-lucky, yet when he is given the task to take charge as the second oldest brother when Ian is not there, he is all business, just as much a warrior.
Duncan is darker in personality, ready to slay his enemy, thinking in terms of the worst-case scenario, not as trusting.
Guthrie is a free spirit who marches to his own drummer, and now has gotten the clan into a financial mess. He’s a financial wizard, normally, and tends to keep his nose in the financial books.
But since Ian is the main character, his personality will deepen even further. Since he’s the eldest, the clan, the wolf pack, the castle and all their survival depends on him. He feels responsible for everyone’s actions and must be capable of turning around their financial straits to the satisfaction of the clan. Throw in a major distraction, a female red werewolf, who isn’t who she claims to be and we see a very new side of his personality.
And that’s how I do it. I start with a name, an idea of some of the major personality traits, and for the main characters, throw them into conflict so that I can showcase further personality quirks. I don’t plan it out to begin with. I can’t. They come to life as I write the story.
I don’t keep journals on my characters. As I set the story in a new place, new major troubles, the characters breathe a life of their own. When I was writing the second book in the Highland wolf series, I wrote about the youngest brother, the dark warrior, Duncan. I reread the parts that he was in in HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF, and made sure that I didn’t deviate from his character. But depending on the circumstances, any individual will act differently based on those circumstances.
For instance, when he is protecting his clan, it will be different from when he is trying to take down the thief who stole their money in a land far away from his ancestral home. Add to that a female wolf who makes him nearly forget his mission, when he is the kind who is always business all the time, and on top of that the master thief is hitting on this single female…and you’ll see a new side to his personality. The dark warrior, sure, but the besotted dark warrior.
I love creating stories! Creating conflict is the best way to show off a character’s personality traits, and oftentimes I don’t even know how they’ll react, or I’ll think out several scenarios, until it fits with their character traits and use that one.
No mystery to any of it. Except…what was the color of her hair again? And yes, names. I had two heroes starting with a “D” name, before I wrote the second Highland wolf tale, and now that makes three. And I had written one of my vampire romantic suspenses with the hero’s name beginning with the letter “D.” So when a fan wrote and asked about one of the “D” heroes and didn’t give the title, I couldn’t remember which hero he was! Let’s see, there was Devlyn, Darien, and Daemon. And Duncan, of course! Hmm, maybe I should keep a log! And for heaven’s sake, avoid any more “D” hero names for a while! Thanks again for having me, Mason!
What do you think about the quadruplet brothers’ names? Which would you prefer to meet up with on a chilly, wet day in the Highlands?
Terry, thanks for guest blogging. I always enjoy learning more about how you create your stories. It would be hard for me to pick between the four brothers, I like all the names. Wishing you much success with your writing and looking forward to HEART OF THE HIGHLAND WOLF.
Now for a bit about Terry. With almost 70,000 copies sold, Terry is a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and a Librarian. She received her MBA from Monmouth University. An eclectic writer, she dabbles in the paranormal as well as writing historical and true life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Terry lives in Crawford, Texas. For more information on her and her writing, visit her website at http://www.terryspear.com/, find her on Facebook at http:///www.facebook.com/#!/terry.spear, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/TerrySpear and at Smashwords at http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/tspear. Look for these exciting upcoming releases from Terry: DREAMING OF THE WOLF (Fall, 2011), THE WOLF AND THE SEAL, and THE HIGHLAND WOLF IN PARADISE in 2012, plus much more.
What are your thoughts on the brothers’ names? Do you like unusual names or simple names? Sorry I’m still not around blogdom, but I do appreciate you stopping by here. Thanks so much.