Have you ever read that one author whose characters are pretty much the same people on repeat, but with (hopefully) different names? So all the stories become as much blended puree, too, because the same people will keep doing the same things. After all, it’s all the same genre. Exactly how many ways can an author write a happily-ever-after?
Quite a few.
Last weekend, I started writing The Cowboy’s Convenient Marriage. It will be the fourth Montana Ranches Christian Romance, and my thirtieth published Christian contemporary romance (CCR).
Thirty books. I’m just as shocked as you are. I have it on good authority that the same characters don’t repeat in slightly different forms… and I don’t feel like I’m in any danger of running out of new and different peeps in the room.
Add to that the fact that I claim to be a pantser (someone who writes the stories by the seat of my pants, ie: without plotting them out in advance), and that may seem impossible, or at least unlikely. I may not plot the stories, but I do know my characters before tossing them into the newest mix.
I’m a fan of the Myers-Briggs personality type system. This goes beyond introvert and extravert and on to other aspects of personality. I’ve got a file with all sixteen types listed, and which character(s) belong to each. Then comes the fun of choosing the other lead character’s MB type.
Now we’ve got 120 different personality combinations to work with, because Person A is going to react differently to Person J than to Person P, giving them different conflicts to work through. All fiction, including romance, is about conflict, and the people involved bring a good chunk of that conflict just from being who they are.
I do have some characters with the very same personality type, yet they’re still very different from each other. How’s that?
The other ways I mix my characters up includes gender and birth order. Making an ISTJ a male with two older sisters creates a very different character from a male who’s the oldest of three boys, who’s a very different character from a female with one younger brother.
Now switch up their parents’ marriage — strong? hanging in there? constant battle? divorced? — and socio-economic background. Was it a Christian home, and how/when did the character come to faith?
How much education does the character have, and in what field? Have there been any romantic missteps in their past? Questions like this can go on and on… and sometimes do, in the form of character interviews!
By the time I start writing a novel, the two main characters are unique individuals with unique traits and backgrounds who will react uniquely to the situations they find themselves in. The situations I don’t know about yet. And the story takes off running…
How about you? Do you notice when authors repeat (or semi-repeat) personalities and plot lines? Whom do you like to read in romance that you feel does an exceptional job at creating unique characters and plots?
I’d like to offer one commenter, anywhere in the world, a copy of one of my e-books, winner’s choice, solo titles only. The winner will be randomly chosen from all commenters on this post and notified by email at the end of March.
“Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.”
PS – I’m on the road today and will be unable to respond to comments until Saturday. Sorry about that!