My characters. My story. In a way, it feels like I’m a journalist—I feel like I’m describing something that’s already actually happened. And that can be of help sometimes, when something bad is coming for one of my characters I rather like. I just tell myself that it’s already happened, and I’m honoring that person’s life by telling his or her story. Sometimes it’s hard…hard as that is to believe since I’m recording an alternate universe Earth that’s in the middle of its Pleistocene with giant city-states and zeppelins! But that’s the nature of the world, and the Steampunk/Fantasy style I chose for the series.
Regarding characters, outlines and ‘personal profiles.’ I don’t use them. Oh sure, I’ll write down a few things about certain characters such as a physical description, but like my stories, my characters reveal themselves…sometimes it even surprises me as I write! Here’s one example. I have a character who I originally thought was a bad guy. I saw him, in the dead of night, his crystal ship lying in a darkened cove beyond the city-state of New Orleans. He couldn’t be doing anything good, right? I mean; he’s in the company of a string of women and young girls who are chained and manacled. “He’s a slaver,” my mind told me. But I was wrong. A little later in the story, when we meet this man again, I find out that he’s exactly the opposite! He’d actually saved the women from a Cathedral slaver, at great risk to himself. Another character in my Steampunk/Fantasy series, a man named Llo, says, ‘When one goes out into the wide world, one must broaden the way one sees. Not everything that is black is bad, and not everything that is white is good.” Solid advice for our Earth as well!
A friend asked me if I used an outline for my books. When I began my first book in this “After Earth” series, “Journey To The Black City”, I tried the ol’ outline theory. It didn’t work. That train was off the rails even before it left the depot! When I write, I don’t see the complete story as I begin. In fact, I don’t think I had any idea at all how any of them were going to end. I don’t plan my stories, or my characters. I just meet them, and turn them loose, and allow them to grow. When I first began this Steampunk/Fantasy series, I didn’t realize it would become a six book series—it just turned out that way. If I’d realized it right away, it might have scared me off.