Thursday, January 17, 2008

How do you create believable characters in a book?

Every writer struggles with the problem of trying to create characters that will be believable, appeal to the reader, and most important of all, be the kinds of characters we will always remember. A lot of writers have accomplished this difficult task. Who could forget Scarlett O'Hara, or James Bond or Harry Potter? When starting any story, the author will quickly find himself in possession of reams of notes, charts, and those all-important biographical sketches of the main characters. I want to know what he or she looks like before I start. What do they do in their spare time when they are not wrestling with my plot? Do they have hobbies? Have they been in love, and if so, was it a pleasant relationship or did the many details of the story sweep them away from the one they loved. When I am in these initial stages, I sometimes find myself flipping through magazines looking at faces, examining the way someone stands, the way they look into my eyes. I am looking for the little things . . . . the things that make me or you have a distinct personality. Most of my character crafting was done in my head, and then I discovered this wonderful 3-D drawing program that allows me to pose a character in any fashion, just as you would pose a real person. In the picture above you will find Daniella Siedman, one of the main characters in Abraham's Bones. She has something in mind -- something mischievous, and judging by the way she is looking, she is going to get her way. Writing, to me, is very exciting. I hope I have captured the essence of Daniella in this picture . . . enough that it will make you want to discover her for yourself in the pages of Abraham's Bones.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Silent Spring?

When Rachel Carson published Silent Spring in 1962, the book was immediately attacked by the chemical companies who said that Carson was unqualified to speak on the subject of chemical effects on the environment. She had sounded a dire warning that the continual use of DDT, the most widely used and effective pesticide, was damaging wildlife and was harmful to humans. She warned that its continual use might produce a ‘silent spring’ in which there would be no birds to herald the season. A frightening scenario, but as I look around me at the fields and meadows normally populated with dozens of species of birds at this time of year, I am beginning to wonder if her warning has not become true. This time the culprit is not DDT, but something not yet identified. Is it Avian Influenza or could it be something else? Will we have, as Miss Carson warned, a silent spring in which our feathered friends are absent from around our bird feeders? Will there be a frightening increase in mosquitoes and other harmful insects? I do not know the answer to that, but I wonder how many of you have noticed the diminishing bird population, and what you think might be the problem.