NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!


Julie Moffet . Clare London . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cats & Characters

Seuss & Muffin on alert
I have 2 cats. They are both rescues. One lived under a porch for the first few months of his life. He’s a very nervous guy. Runs when the doorbell rings. Runs if there’s a loud noise. Runs if you make eye contact for more than half a second. (And he hates being photographed, dahling.)

The other cat was actually born on the floor of the kids’ bathroom. He’s grown up with our family. Our house is a safe and happy universe—full of food on demand and large hairless cats, clearly put here to do his bidding.
My cuteness is irresistible!

“But I want to walk on the counters!”

“I want to eat that butter!”

“I’m hungry NOW!”

Sometimes, I think my cats represent a real life psychology experiment: “Effects of early childhood on personality.

This got me thinking about my characters. I spend a lot of time working out what’s going on with them within the time frame of a particular story, but I realized, I didn’t always take time to understand their childhoods.

So one day, when I was feeling kind of stumped, (procrastinating? Nooooo, not me!) I decided to imagine the main character's childhoods in detail. Who held them as a baby? What food did they eat? Turns out, the image I found most useful was picturing them around the age of 6 or 7, the age when you first start to have strong memories. I personally think that’s when your sense of the world gets firmed up.

Muffin supervising productivity. 
Wow.

I got some really interesting details out of that bit of procrastination. And it helped get me over the hump. (Off the stump?)

Anyone else ever tried imagining a character’s childhood? What's your go-to childhood image--a toy? A food? What age do you see when you think of childhood?

9 comments:

Elise Warner said...

Great blog. I think a lot about my characters but never went that far back. By George! I'm going to try it.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Love the kitties! We rescued two a few years ago, then two more this past summer. Never thought I'd be a 4-cat household. Then again, I never thought I'd have 3 kids either. LOL

I have a masters in Counseling, so I can't seem to resist delving into my characters' childhoods. The more I write, the more I firm up my view that parents, teachers, and childhood influences play a strong role in who/what a person becomes. (And maybe that's why writing villains is so interesting to me, too?)

Great post!

Toni Anderson said...

Fabulous post, Jules!

J Wachowski said...

Thanks guys!
Yeah, Anne Marie, I know what you mean. How did we end up with 2 cats? We're dog people!

And I find the childhood thing really helps with villains. I seem to have loads of images of my central characters' childhoods. But struggle with the baddies.

Getting a mental imagine of my antagonist as a kid makes me so much more empathetic.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Interesting post -- I'm with you, I need to work harder on understanding my villains/ antagonists than I do on the the heroes. But it's worth taking the time to figure them out.

Cathie Linz aka Cat Devon said...

Great post Julie!

Rita said...

Childhood is where it's at! You don't know what happened as kid you don't know your characters.

J Wachowski said...

Yeah, I think you're right, Rita. Finally getting the hang of this writing thing. :)

Marcelle, you have such interesting antagonists! I'm surprised it's something that doesn't come easy!

Cathy Perkins said...

Interesting idea!

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