Character Development

I was asked this question not too long ago by someone who had read the first chapter of The Peggy’s. The Peggy’s is a novel I am writing which possesses two distinctive features. The first is it is being written in a serialized form like in the old magazines. Well, at least old to some.

Writing anything these days which require a reader to wait for the next installment goes against the grain I am afraid. When you can stream entire seasons of TV shows, somehow waiting for the next installment becomes a little bit crazy. Yet, I enjoy it. I enjoyed waiting to see what would happen in the next installment. Which of course shows my love for excellent television series.

Second, I have opened the writing to readers with suggestions. That’s right. This is an interactive work. I have no clear concept of where this story will end or how. I wanted it this way. I wanted to free write each installment. To let a little time pass and have actual readers outside of my circle or staff tell me their feelings. Tell me what they think about the story thus far.

It has become quite interesting going back and forth with people I have never met or even emailed before as they tell me their opinions about the writing. Tell me where they think the story should go and why. Tell me how to develop my characters.

Characters are interesting to develop. Even if you write an entire dossier on a character before you begin writing, the character often changes to meet the needs of the story. In The Peggy’s, I had originally only planned on having Rowena Adair begin the story then fade away into the background as the plot driven story emerged.

Amazing how things change. The plot driven story has lessened to a certain degree. Instead, the story has developed in such a fashion of being told through the eyes of Rowena Adair. She has become my central character. Something several of my readers suggested. They wanted to see through the eyes of this complicated, hardened woman. Wanted the woman to remain complicated and use her complications to affect what happens in the story.

Therefore, after we published chapter one, I adapted the story to be told from Rowena’s point of view entirely. This one part has changed the way I developed my characters. Each one now will only be viewed as Rowena sees them. As we all know, opinion is a hard thing to change, and characters viewed by only one person are often lacking in depth.

Something I must keep in mind as the story progresses since Rowena has many opinions. Opinions even she knows can be wrong or need to be changed.

To create Rowena, I wanted a flawed character who has worked on the righty side of the law while also keeping her hands in the dirty side. To do this, I decided Rowena needed to be a member of a cop family. Her father needed to be a part of the nineteen seventies corruption but not involved. He needed to be alluded to as someone who didn’t participate that anyone was aware of but wasn’t hated by those he worked with. His corruption needed to be discreet. Extremely discreet. So much so that even Rowena never discovered the truth of whether or not her father was a dirty cop back in the days when that was a requisite to being a cop.

In the nineteen seventies you were either on the take or looked the other way. It was how you survived as a big city cop. And being a cop was all that Rowena Adair’s father was about. This attitude about being a cop influences Rowena. She can’t ever think of becoming anything else as a child. Her father begins teaching her at a young age how to be a cop. How to be a detective. How to use the corruption she discovers for her own benefit.

She enters the police academy at the age of twenty in 1989. Is immediately recruited by Internal affairs to become an undercover operative inside the police force to help internal affairs handle the troubles cops get into too. Handle these troubles both on the books and off.

She excels at living this double life. Does it as a triple when she is recruited by vice to go undercover to end a sexual slavery ring which in turns leads her to a cartel which has its hands in everything criminal in the city. Excel so much that she is promoted as she serves time in narcotics, vice, white collar crime, and major crimes.

All while the Peggy’s are systematically torturing and killing men. Something they do for ten years. Until Rowena is tasked by the governor to end their reign. If she does this, she will be promoted to Deputy Chief of Internal affairs and set up as the next police commissioner.

A good way to set the character up as a goody two shoes. Something neither myself nor those who read the first chapter wanted any part of. They like me, wanted Rowena to be flawed. Flawed from the beginning.

So, Rowena drinks. She gets high. She enjoys sex. Lots of sex with multiple partners if she can get them. She also steals and is currently attempting to set herself up to retire as rich as she can be. Rich enough she can have sex with as many boy toys as she wants on a mini yacht in the Gulf of Mexico.

Rowena is smart. Spooky smart and has the street smarts along with the intellect. Her experience has allowed her to work both sides of the street as a cop for almost thirty-two years. She would have succeeded too but an old adversary takes her down and takes the credit for all the work she’s done.

The adversary does such a good job Rowena has nothing left to look forward to. Then a murder occurs which takes her back in time to when she covered the original Peggy murders. A murder which begins to change her attitude. Her outlook on life. And her outlook on staying alive.

I can’t wait to see how Rowena develops as the story continues. I am looking forward to seeing how each character develops. How the plot and subplots change and morph into the final story. I have just finished chapter three and am sending it to my Wifesty for her approval. Once we get it polished, I can’t wait to see what the readers have to say about it. To read what they think should happen next to both Rowena and the story. Writing in this manner has some ups and downs, but I think I enjoy it. Enjoy waiting for the input of those reading the story to see where it should go next.

I’m Ross, The Editor-in-Chief at The Pyrateheart Press and I’m out.

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