Monday’s Friend: Jams N Roses
In a change from the published programme, I am pleased to welcome crime writer Jams N Roses to the blog as today’s guest writer.
Creating a character from scratch?
By Jams N Roses
Looking back, after two published novels, a collection of shorts and a few screenplays stashed in the drawer, I’m not sure if I’ve ever created one of my fictional characters from scratch.
In fact, each of the characters that I’ve placed in my stories was conceived using the characteristics from people I know, or people I’ve briefly interacted with or more often than not, myself.
Even for those who think they have created a character from the bottom up, I bet if they really thought long and hard about it, they’d discover that their creation resembles someone a lot closer to home than the fictional town or planet that the narrative is set.
One of my favorite characters so far, who is by no means likeable, is Jason Dorris from my contemporary crime fiction novel, Get Clean.
Jason is a straight up asshole and has only one person in his life that he wouldn’t push past to get out of a burning building, and she happens to be the woman he wants to get in the sack.
He is selfish, arrogant, manipulative, violent and devious. Not nice traits in anyone, and surely if these were the characteristics of ‘a friend’ then I’d probably do well to avoid him totally. But Jason isn’t a carbon copy of someone I know or once knew. He is the worst of a few of the people in my life, me included. He is the collection of negativity that makes a good ‘bad guy’.
When I was younger, and had a different view on life, I knew and engaged with people that sold drugs, and people that took drugs. I knew people that would fight someone for supporting the wrong football team. I knew thieves. I knew people that would chat up the girlfriend of a ‘mate’ behind their back, with no concern of the possible consequence. I knew people who would go to prison for three months to a few years and come out and gloat about it.
Thankfully times have changed; I have matured and seen the error of my ways, and the ways of many people that I have now turned my back on. But, also thankfully, I have retained the memories of those dangerous times.
Importantly for a crime writer, I have firsthand knowledge of how certain aspects of the bad life go down, and this really helps when I’m ‘creating’ the villain of a piece. It would be mad not to use past experiences to add to the believability of my characters and storylines.
Contrarily, I hope that we have all been loved at least once in our lives, and the positives should equally be pulled from these times and places and faces and molded into a hero, heroine or love interest.
The above points are just for starters, because as we well know, nobody is just nice, and not many are completely bad. Mixing the good and bad traits of people you know or knew and creating a new character altogether is where the fun really begins.
That girl you thought that loved you unconditionally, was she really faithful? Did you trust every word she said to be true? Why did she stay in touch with the guy who treated her badly in a previous relationship?
And that friend of yours, the one you’ve known for most of your life and who had your back when trouble started, why was his car spotted just down the road when your house got robbed? Was that really just a coincidence?
Taking a good character and giving them a flaw is what makes them believable and interesting, and that’s the stuff that good books are made from.
Originally from Hertfordshire, I spread my wings and spent nearly three years living in Marbella, on the southern coast of Spain. Circumstances changed and I then ended up the south coast of France, where I am now living and spending my days raising my son and writing when I can.
I love the creation of stories, and although I spend days and weeks and months working on a plot, it’s the emotions of my characters that I enjoy delving into.
My first published novel, ‘Get Clean’, really has my heart and soul poured into it. Although I feel a bit naked by putting a story out there that contains so much of my life, I’m happy with the book, and a little proud of my first writing achievement.
Now available is ‘Son of a Serial Killer’. This story was born in my mind when I was going through a difficult phase in my life. I felt let down by the person closest to me, and I was angry and upset. What better way to expel those emotions than to throw them into a book? The story itself isn’t based on my life like my previous novel, but the emotions captured within the pages are feelings I had to battle with for far too long.
I am a big film fan, and would have to admit that I have an eye on the ‘filmability’ of my stories when writing them. One day…