Fun Is For Shallow People
Character Development - A Pinch of This and a Dash of That
Is it a thorny issue for you to come up with and develop the characters in your writing? Do you find that your characterizations evolve or come together naturally as the story progresses or do you plan it out ahead of time and try not to deviate?
How do you come up with your characters? Do you dream them? Do you imagine stark outlines of various individuals and let them evolve as you write? Does your approach fluctuate when working in different genres?
These are the typical questions I am presented with and the answers can vary depending on the genre. Writers have different inspirations or methods when designing the players and the intersecting relationships in the tales they want to tell. Genre can also dictate in how characterization is approached.
To write Fun Is For Shallow People, I tapped into my memories of various experiences and people, applied creative fictionalization to many details, and wove those elements together into a murder mystery. This is how it works for the short stories I write too. Characters are most often composites of people I know or have known. Nemesis or friend, family member or random individual I encountered on a trip. A tingle of inspiration starts, then a flash of insight occurs, and the bud of an idea will begin to germinate. I’ll jot a few notes and thus I’ve saved the character idea for a part in a future novel or short story.
The essential identity of a character already exists for any piece I start. Then, modification or embellishment occurs as I write. For Fun is For Shallow People, I had a good collection of characters I wanted to use at the outset. As the novel progressed, I combined a little of this from one person, a bit of that from another, and tossed in a sprinkling of my own imagination to balance it out. I am an avid follower of pop culture and use references every now and again in the novel, mainly to punctuate an impression I wish to convey; an ornament to add decoration and enhance the character’s development.
I have never dreamt a character or a story. I don’t ponder or daydream in order to design my characters. Real life proffers an unending expanse from which to draw for inspiration and ideas, and since I am a very social creature, I constantly encounter a kaleidoscopic palette of individuals and incidents from which to extract, mix, and match.
And that is how I am approaching the writing of my Naked Eye mystery series. These books are not meant to be profound, nor will the stories take you on a hero/heroine’s personal journey of self-discovery. I plan to keep the tone of the mysteries simmering at a soft-boiled, pulpy level of light entertainment. Fun Is For Shallow People ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and Part Two of it is already in progress. Familiar characters return, and new ones are introduced so it’s a good thing my cache of inspiration is pretty full!
Writing blog: inkyheels.wordpress.com
Link to book on
Book Genre: Mystery
Release Date: September 29, 2013
Buy Link(s): http://www.amazon.com/Fun-Shallow-People-Elizabeth-Myrddin/dp/1492807532/ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18654243-fun-is-for-shallow-people https://www.createspace.com/4455452
Parlors, petticoats, and poison! A half-empty bottle of absinthe and a dead man in costume are found in a drifting rowboat. As Detectives Ted Rose and Alexa Sheldon unravel intrigue and ferret out motive, they bump up against the heaving bosom of theatrics that is the Laurel Bay Costume Society. Soon, a group of suspects emerge from the clique of unconventional people. Two beautiful women seek to influence the proceedings. One is Trina, the blond, wanna-be femme fatale. The other is Yvette, the cunning, red-haired scene queen. Yvette and Trina turn their battle for social standing among peers into an extreme sport as they try to sway the investigation. Ted and Alexa are determined to out-maneuver the manipulators in order to crack the case.
They entered the flat and Ted spent a few moments taking it in. The front room resembled a cluttered Victorian parlor. Memento mori décor dominated the space. A row of antique cabinets lined one wall – one a large taxidermy display filled with stuffed birds and reptiles, a black rabbit sitting on its haunches, and a sleeping fox. The other cases held old-fashioned apothecary containers, teacups, and various other decorative items – all vintage looking. The décor in the room was overwrought, but he was fascinated by the more macabre items, one of which was a large casket in a corner propped on end being used as a sort of open closet for wigs, hats, scarves, and gloves.
Ted watched Yvette closely as he asked, “You know a Nathan Collier, correct?”
She narrowed her eyes. “Nathan is my ex-husband. We’ve been divorced for a short while, and we travel in the same social circles, but only out of necessity. Whatever trouble he’s in, I don’t want any part of it.”
As she spoke, Yvette straightened her posture and tilted her chin slightly upward. Her attitude made it clear she wanted to exhibit disdain, which she did in an exaggerated fashion that was almost comical. With an affected gesture, she tossed her long hair behind her shoulders and awarded Ted a polite smile.
He scrutinized Yvette, his gut pinging. The way she talked and presented herself mirrored that of the Meryl Streep character in She-Devil. Instead of blond hair like Streep in that movie, Yvette’s was a bold plum red, long and wavy. What was that character’s name?
After Yvette breathed a heavy sigh, she said, “I’d really like to finish my makeup. Please continue with this business of yours, whatever it is.”
“At the park event on Sunday, did you notice Mr. Collier or anyone else missing at any time?” asked Alexa.
A frown creased Yvette’s forehead. “I am the organizer and hostess for that event. I had too much going on to pay attention to Nathan’s whereabouts. He was probably screwing around somewhere, which would be typical. And I certainly can’t recall the location of everyone else. I was focused on my poetry recitation and those of the others who participated.”
“Where did you go after you left the park?” pressed Alexa. “Did you return home or go elsewhere that same night? If you were with another person, we’ll need him or her to verify your whereabouts.”
Yvette raised her eyebrows in surprise and stiffened. She replied as though affronted. “After the event ended at four, I returned here to change out of my Mary Shelley costume. Then I met up with my current paramour, Gabriel, at his place at about six or seven for supper. We stayed in at his apartment the rest of the night and I returned home the next afternoon.” Yvette gestured to a nearby couch, “Would you two care to sit? I get the impression this might take a while.”