We all have them: Kin that we walk away from, shaking our heads.

“Man, what a character,” we mutter.

But seriously, think about it. If you noticed, collected, and applied all the quirks, strange, silly, funny or touching memories to your fictional characters, wouldn’t they just explode off the page?

For instance, I have a wonderful friend who means the world to me. Her parents are aging, their health is fragile, and in addition to the challenges of those two elements, are the family dynamics already in place. She has siblings of various ages, all younger than she is. She loves them all dearly and they make crazy.  The stories make me laugh so hard I cry, and she’s usually laughing by the time I can control myself, but I know she’s frustrated with the whole scenario. So, we’ve made them into characters. Adorable, unique and relatable neighbors for her novel’s heroine. Her folks are now the Weebles. And, she carefully documents the Weebles’ adventures.

They fall down, but they get up albeit with assistance, and they aren’t injured or in danger of ending up in an elder-care facility. They don’t do their exercises either, but it doesn’t really matter.  Someone always makes sure the bills are paid on time and the Weebles don’t argue that they can’t drive any more.  They make the neighbors crazy, but the neighbors look out for them and make sure they eat right and get to the doctors, to church, and the bridge games.

And, in her novel, they’ll ultimately help her heroine solve the latest mystery in their small southern town. It’s great fun to make things turn out the way you want them to, isn’t it?

I’ve got another good friend who is a character all her own. I don’t know her family pesonally, but she’s the eldest. She’s intelligent and passionate and writes a mean mystery. Her precious son is nearing forty and he’s tall, handsome, and handicapped.  She reminds me of Maxine, but she’s shorter. Life’s been hard for her, but she’s as unbent as an oak tree.  One of the secondary characters in my southern mystery is cloned in the image of that friend and readers tell me she’s just the greatest character they’ve met in a long while. And I agree! My life would be much less colorful is she wasn’t in it.

We’ve all got challenges going on–people in our lives who add to the struggles, or create them in the first place. People we love, but think we can’t stand for another minute without shaking them. Or, people who do things that worry us to tears.

We’re writers!! Take those lovable, wacky and even the not-so-lovable “characters” in your life and turn them into the kind of 3-dimensional characters that your readers will adore!! Could be your relationships will be brighter along with your writing.

Hey – it worked for J.K. Rawlings and Sue Grafton. It’ll work for you, too!

Keep writing! NQ


About NL Quatrano

Award-winning author, speaker, editor and ghost writer, Nancy owns a full-time editing, writing and specialty publishing business: On-Target Words/WC Publishing. Volunteer/member of professional writing organizations including Florida Writers Assoc., Sisters in Crime, and AWAI. 2010 Professional Woman of the Year by the NAPW. Linked in Editor Pick May 2013. International Women's Leadership Association nominee for Outstanding Leadership 2014. Author of Murder in Black and White, Still Shot, Merciful Blessings, and numerous published short stories.
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