This month, we Roses have been cluing you in on summer vacations, various home projects, and how they get story idea from head to page, among other topics. Since I am in the throes of beginning The Deep Well of Love and Murder, fifth in the series, process is a good subject for me.
My first book contract came in 2009. Book five of the series is my eleventh such contract. Where the idea for a book comes from varies. I’ve gotten inspired by a family member’s general experience and once by a night spent in a cheap motel. Ideas have jumped from the page of a wedding announcement and a brainstorming session with my husband.
When an idea comes, and if the idea is one I’ll run with, characters almost instantly materialize. It’s practically instantaneous. In fact, a character in the leading roll, often is the idea that sets off the storyline.
And, so, the first thing I do, even before research, is construct my Character Sketch file. Here is what that looks like. This is the working file for the heroine in The Deep Well of Love and Murder. You can see it’s not complete. When complete, not all of it will make it into the book:
Character Name: Laura Jane (Burns) Katz Nickname:
Birth Date and Place: Long Beach, CA 1992
Character Role: ex-wife of Clark Katz and heroine, protagonist
Eye Color: deep green, wide-set
Hair Color and Style: long, blonde
Height/Weight/Build: smallish 5’4”
Skin Tone: fair
Style of Dress: It’s spring so she wears sleeveless tight Tee shirts or t-strap tops and tailored shorts. No jewelry. She will wear cotton skirts if the event requires.
Distinguishing physical traits or mannerisms:
Personality Traits: Very outgoing and independent
Background: Comes from a dysfunctional family of an alcoholic mother and abusive stepfather. She left home at seventeen (the day after graduating) and moved to Flagstaff. Dropped out of college when she became pregnant and married Clark Katz. Had a miscarriage, but hung in there working two jobs while he loafed. In book one, he was involved with the theft of Lacy’s mother’s artwork and consequently arrested. She divorced him. When he got out of prison, he stalked her and went on to more serious crimes. Again arrested so when he got out again, she left for Chino Valley.
Occupation/Education: waitress and nanny
Every character in the book will have a file like this one. Only the major characters (heroine, hero, villains or perceived villains) will have a complete work up. It’s very likely not all of the information will make it into the book.
If a book is part of a series like The Deep Well of Love and Murder, the events will be added to my Series Timeline. Every birth, death, marriage, and major event will be entered.
The research begins. When I start creating the character files, the story is percolating which sparks questions, and it’s time to get educated. I can’t write a character whose great grandfather was a Brazilian Gaucho without knowing what a Gaucho was and where and how they lived. If my character had an alcoholic mother, I might need some knowledge on how it could affect her.
At some point, there’s no sure fire recipe, I write the opening paragraph and synopsis. Character information will continue to come in…the people in the book will open up more and more to me as the story progresses. That in turn will necessitate more research. And the synopsis will expand, get hacked, ebb and flow.
It isn’t a straight line from idea to final product. This is the process that works for me.For more information about me and my books visit: