Creating Characters with my Friends

Ann H Gabhart Ann's Posts, One Writer's Journal

Hi, everybody. Well, I had my book event at the local library today and some friends and family were sweet enough to show up and listen to me talk about my writing and how I come up with characters. That was sort of a warm-up for my talk in West Virginia in October when I’m speaking on “Writing about Shakers … and Other Odd Characters.” I think I’ll need to do some more practicing before then.

I did enjoy the talk today. I used to be painfully shy when I was a child, but I outgrew it. Now I love to talk to people one on one and I like to speak. I still sometimes get a few butterflies, but then I just go out and have fun sharing about my writing and trying to get a chuckle out of my listeners now and again. I can understand why stand-up comedians stay in the business. It’s fun being able to make people laugh.

Of course the people at my event today were friends who looked kindly upon me and I knew they weren’t going to boo and hiss no matter what I said. My favorite part of any talk is the question and answer time. I used to go to a lot of schools and the kids would come up with the most fun questions. Adults sometimes have to be jump started to get them to ask questions. But today we got started talking about the Shakers. I think some of the people listening probably knew more of the history than I did. So that’s when I shut up and listened. That’s the best way to learn new things.

After I talked we did a fun exercise of creating a character together by brainstorming a bit. It wasn’t long before we had a young woman named Peggy (nickname for Margaret – somebody explain to me how that makes sense) who was 25 in 1941 and her fiance had gone to France in WW II and been killed. She had red hair and was Irish American. Her parents came over from Ireland and settled in New York where she was born, but then they moved to Tyrone here in Anderson County. Some wanted her to be expecting. Others thought that was going too far for 1941. And so we were able to see how all of us could have taken the same 25 year old woman named Peggy and come up with a totally different person who could live a totally different story. As I tell people who tell me they have a wonderful idea for this or that story. It’s not the idea so much. Although having a good idea is great. But it’s how the writer develops the idea.

I read once that there are only about ten original plot lines. Don’t ask me what they are. I don’t think anybody wants to tell!!! But that writers have used those basic plot lines in thousands and thousands of ways to write entertaining and different stories. So maybe someday I’ll write a story about Peggy. Of course I might have to change her age and where she lived and even her name. I never liked the name Peggy that much and my characters, at least the main characters have to have a name I can like. But I do plan to write a book about WW II after I finish my Shaker books.

The work on my new Shaker book is progressing. But next week won’t see much working time for me. It’s National Quartet Convention time in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Patriot Quartet have a booth there in the exhibition hall. It’s fun meeting all the other singers and gospel music lovers, but it doesn’t leave much time for home stuff. So if you come to the Quartet Convention come by and say hi.

And oh yeah, I went out surfing on the net to see what was happening with my book, The Outsider, and came across a bestseller list for Christian fiction. What do you know – my book was on the list! It was number 20 out of 20, but it was still on the list. That was neat. I’ve never been on any kind of bestseller list before, at least to my knowledge. And half the credit surely goes to the beautiful girl on the cover. Even if you haven’t read the book yet, you can take my word for it that she is just the perfect Gabrielle. It’s a very eye-catching cover. Now if I could just get my local Wal-Mart or Kroger store to stock some of the books. That’s the closest thing we have to a bookstore around here.

Still it’s not very far to Frankfort where the great people at Corinth Christian Bookstore carry my books and are very supportive. Plus they have a beautiful store and bend over backwards to help people find what they need. Hope you have a great Christian bookstore near you. There’s just something different about walking into a store where everything inside has something to do with the Lord. It’s not exactly like being in church, but it’s not far from it.

A special thanks to everybody who has entered my book giveaway so far and who have said they enjoyed my newsletter. If you would like to add your name to my e-mail list for an occasional newsletter – say every two or three months – just go my website and send me an e-mail. That’s how you can enter my contest too. I’ll be drawing for the winner of a complete autographed set of my Hollyhill books, The Scent of Lilacs, Orchard of Hope and Summer of Joy.

Last of all, but certainly not least, I’ve enjoyed hearing from you after you got the newsletter and also the comments people have posted here. That’s the best thing about doing a newsletter is hearing from some of my friends.

May your cup so overflow with blessings this week that you end up drinking from your saucer of life. With joy.