I’m delighted to once again welcome Francis Guenette author of The Crater Lake Series – Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies and Chasing Down the Night. Her novels are set on the shore of a Northern Vancouver Island lake, rich in rural life, family dynamics, and romance.
Settle in with one of Fran’s books and you’ll become one of the characters. Her natural storytelling ability and talent to bring the setting to life will immediately transport you to fictional Crater Lake.
Be sure to check out her blog. You’ll find pictures of her stunning lakeshore cabin, where she resides with her husband and finds inspiration for the series.
Please welcome Fran as she talks about the anatomy of a character sketch.
When it comes to writing a novel, if I have any pearls of wisdom to drop that string of luminescent beauty would be looped over the neck of how writers get to know their characters. A writer’s relationship with the characters has to go as deep as any connection to family members or BFF’s.
Character sketches are the obvious entry point to this knowing and a physical description is a good place to begin. Not necessarily the most important aspect of the undertaking, but one must start somewhere.
A physical description will naturally branch out and run all over the map – age, work, friends, family, hobbies, affectations, disabilities, talents. Dig a bit deeper and a character’s internal and external motivations begin to emerge. What makes the person tick? What drives this particular character’s actions? What makes him laugh? What makes her cry? Where is anger rooted?
Creating character sketches comes early in my writing process and it’s an exercise in wild writing – a regular free-for-all. I let myself go as I imagine everything I can about a particular character. As creator, I need to know far more about my creations than any reader will ever be subjected to.
My daily walks become prime time for carrying out lengthy chats with all my characters. The first person the character interacts with is me. Later, when I’m sure I’m on solid ground with the relationships I have developed, I can begin to hear how they talk to one another. If I have brought the character sketch process to its logical conclusion, dialogue becomes an act of transcription.
Character sketches do not get laid to rest once I start writing the novel. Whenever I find that dialogue is not flowing or something a character is doing is not ringing true, I’m back to the drawing board of that sketch. There is obviously the need to strengthen the relationships if I’m going to hear unique voices, capture that slight waver, hesitation or tone that indicates so much.
My books, so far, have revolved around the same group of core characters. As it is in real life, characters must grow. A series is dead in the water if this doesn’t happen. With each new book, character sketches have to be fleshed out to adequately represent the ways in which the characters have changed. Izzy can’t sound the same in book four – happily married to Liam and surrounded by family – as she sounded in book one when she was reeling from Caleb’s death and struggling with loneliness and feelings of inadequacy and guilt. Of course, there are aspects of Izzy’s voice that never change – core personality traits, her wry sense of humour and quick wit. I cherish that continuity as I tune my ear to understanding who this woman is becoming.
Thank you so much for sharing your technique of developing character sketches, Fran.
Her latest release can be purchased on the following sites:
Long-time resident, Izzy Montgomery juggles the stress of a new job with her burgeoning home life. Family dynamics go into overdrive when Alexander and Cynthia launch plans to build a home nearby and Liam’s sister, Fiona shows up to do an internship with the local doctor. Lisa-Marie and Justin are back for the summer and sparks fly. While crusty, old Reg keeps sawmill production booming, Beulah runs the organic bakery and plans the First Annual Caleb Jenkins Memorial Ball Tournament. Bethany discovers her own hidden talents working with young people at Micah Camp.
As a nine-year-old’s dreams reflect a dangerous reality, many encounter issues from the past.
This is a novel for all those who work at building family ties by strengthening the traditional and creating the new. Chasing Down the Night explores a wide-ranging emotional landscape while highlighting the many aspects of day-to-day, rural life. Tears and laughter are inevitable.