How Do Characters Get Created?

January 3, 2006 | Writing

How did you decide what story you wanted to write? Did you immediately know what genre you wanted to write for? Do you know what a genre is? Did you know the names of your heroes and heroines? For me, it was 1989 and I was watching Cher on tv. I thought, what if Cher was really bi-racial? What if Cher had hid her ethnicity and had a black family that didn’t know anything about her? Then, I started thinking about a black successful attorney in love with a white attorney and both families opposed to their union. Her father, is opposed because he was once married to a white woman at a time when such marriages were illegal in the U.S. Cher, or Chantel, would be the daughter that shows up when her father dies and Elizabeth, the black daughter, is told about her. Then, I added a black attorney, who is interested in Elizabeth and causes her white boyfriend,Stephen, to be jealous and break up with her. Romeo and Juliet in black and white and don’t die. Looking back, my original story was very raw. Still on the cow, raw. Obsessed with writing this behemoth of a book, I enrolled in Writer’s Digest Novel Writing Program. Of course, after I finished the program, I figured I had a book that agents would be beating my door down to present me. That illusion, still exists, but tempered by years of rejection, learning point of view, syntax, what is a romance, and crying. Looking back, I’m so very glad I was rejected. The story was in the book, but it wasn’t a book. I even avoided paying a so-called agency to pitch my book to agents and editors.
Next came years of writing sometimes, you know, when you’re not busy working a full time job or having a second child, or raising both children. I joined a writers group in a suburb and that helped for a time. An article I read in the Sun Times, by Mary Mitchell, about black romances, directed me to Romance Writers of America. From there, I found Love Designers, a RWA chapter, less than thirty minutes from home. I attended their yearly conference, joined the group and began reading romance books of all types for review. This helped my writing and putting my story together better. From Love Designers, I found Beth and Sloane. Actually, Beth found me and Sloane. There was a fourth person, but she didn’t work out. Beth is the one with the 2×4, and she will repeat what you haven’t learned until you do. Then she moves on to something else, so it benefits you to learn it – quickly. By now, my story was better, but still not tight enough. I still had Chantel and my hero Stephen was weak. I submitted the entire novel, per request to Genesis Press, and it was rejected. But the acquisitions editor rejected me with a two page letter, that outlined my story problems, and she said I had potential. Well, I do. So now, the story has a stronger Stephen, Chantel is not even in the first book, the father doesn’t die, Elizabeth is still torn about marrying Stephen, but this time when I submit, the book will be better. Romeo and Juliet, in black and white and alive. Tomorrow, I’ll post about interracial romances, why I think they’re really hot right now, and how I detest when the story is weak.

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4 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. Woo, Yasmine. This is what it’s all about. Keep plugging away, keep learning, keep getter better and better.


  2. Just like the old Virginia Slims commercial, “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby. I’m very proud of you and grateful your my CP.


  3. My characters? Walk into my kitchen and start waving guns around. Sigh.

    Awesome blog.


  4. Jenna, your characters are NAKED and waving guns around! Tell those hunks to stay away from the oven.
    Sherrill thanks, I’m feeling in control and since I don’t know how long it’s gonna last, I better use it to my advantage.
    Sloane – thank you, as a CP and friend you are awesome. Gotta pump you up, cause when you get this book to read, I’ll be enclosing a green pen, you must remember your prior comments.


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