Creating Characters With Carol Kilgore

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Here's to the start of a wonderful week. I'm happy to have Carol Kilgore as my guest. She'll be sharing some tips on creating characters. I don't know about you, but I'm always open to finding out more about characterization, so here goes. 

Joy, thank you so much for letting me share some blog space with you. I'm happy to be here. I hope to visit Jamaica for real one day, but for right now I'll make do with stopping at The Character Depot.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if a real Character Depot existed? Writers could stroll through and choose this character, and that one; outfit them from TrendMart or the Vintage Shoppe; mix and match personality traits; step into the Flaws Boutique and let them try on different ones for the perfect fit.

But no such luck.

Characters rarely come so easily to most of us. They keep secrets, they don't tell us their real names, they wear wigs, colored contacts, and cut their hair halfway through the story. They don't tell us what they know about other characters, they outright lie to our faces. It's a real mess. I've threatened to file suit, but it didn't help.

What's a writer to do?

Strike back.

Tell the heroine you're going to pair her with the unkempt guy with the stray eye who works at the garage. That'll get her going.

Use their tricks against them.

Tell the garage guy you need to cut his character from the story and he can pick up his paycheck on the way out. Stand back and watch what happens.

Tricks are fine. Sometimes they even work.

But in all seriousness, give your characters the time they deserve. Get to know them. Listen to them. And listen to that quiet little voice inside you. You know the one. It has no shades of gray.

The voice only says two things: Yes or No.

No home. No family. No place to hide. For Summer Newcombe, that's only the beginning.

The night Summer escapes from a burning Padre Island eatery and discovers the arsonist is stalking her, is the same night she meets Fire Captain Gabriel Duran. As much as she's attracted to Gabe, five years in the Federal Witness Security Program because of her father’s testimony against a mob boss have taught her the importance of being alone and invisible.

No matter how much she yearns for a real home, Summer relinquished that option the night she killed the man who murdered her father. But Gabe breaks down her guard and places both of them in danger. Summer has vowed never to kill again, but she's frantic she'll cost Gabe his life unless she stops running and fights for the future she wants with the man she loves.


Carol Kilgore
Carol Kilgore is a Texas native who has lived in locations across the U.S. as the wife of a Coast Guard officer. Back under the hot Texas sun in San Antonio, Carol writes a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss. She and her husband share their home and patio with two active herding dogs, and every so often the dogs let them sit on the sofa.

Learn more about Carol and follow her here:


  1. Pairing her with the guy at the garage - you are mean to your characters!

  2. Great strategy Carol - that'll keep those unruly characters in line. :)

  3. Hey, that garage guy could be just what she needs to loosen her up, and he could be just what SHE needs to keep his eyes from wandering! Never know! But I'll be sure to try your technique. Thanks!

  4. Alex - I try :)

    Cate - Sometimes they are a royal pain.

    Linda - So true. Sometimes when I try to mix them up, it turns out to be what they wanted after all :)

  5. I personally love creating characters, but you are correct it's not always an easy start.

  6. Creating characters is one of the things I enjoy doing. Sometimes they come into existence fully formed, sometimes they are a simple skeleton on which I get to hang traits and clothes and all sorts of other goodies.

  7. Creating dynamic characters is fun. By the end of the novel, I talk about them as if they were real people. Your book sounds interesting, Carol. Let me know where I can purchase it and I get a copy. Best of luck.

  8. Wow, one of my characters did cut her hair off recently. LOL! I like how you sum up the definitive answer to the questions that swirl in our brains.

  9. Yah, we do need to give them time to become three dimensional. They become very real to me by the time I'm finished--ditto on their world and the people in it. When I hit a wall I know I haven't been listening. :-)

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  10. I agree, you have to put your characters in horrible situations sometimes but then you have to treat them with respect. Loved your post.

  11. Characters are what make writing so much fun.

  12. LM - I enjoy that aspect of writing, too :)

    Bish - I love when they arrive fully formed. It's the secretive ones that give me fits.

    Andrea - I do the same thing. IN NAME ONLY is available exclusively at Amazon in both print and Kindle editions. Amazon offers free apps for ereaders other than Kindle, including apps for phones.

    CarrieBoo - Why do they do that?

    Sia - Exactly. It takes me a little bit to switch between story world and real world when I've been in the zone or doing heavy editing.

    Clarissa - I agree - the key is treating them with respect.

  13. LR - We crossed. I agree - even when we want to strangle them, LOL.

  14. Carol's all over the place these days!

    Characters are like job applicants. Some work out okay and some don't. Some do the work their supposed to do while others might get fired or maybe a demotion.

    Wrote By Rote

  15. Such a fun way of looking at it... yet makes perfect sense...

  16. Arlee - I'm a magician :)

    So true about characters not pulling their weight. I usually cut a couple between the first and final drafts.

    Michelle - You gotta laugh, otherwise writing can make you crazy.

  17. Writers are so evil to their characters sometimes . . . I know I have been. LOL.

  18. Golden Eagle - That's because it's so much fun!

  19. Ha! I need to trick my characters more. LOL!

  20. Jennifer - Sometimes it works. Sometimes it backfires. So be ready for anything!

  21. I'd like to try using their tricks against them.

    Great post. :)

  22. LOL; yeah, I've discovered bribery - a great love scene or something else exciting - can also work to get them to open up.

    My characters are always surprising me.


  23. Great post, Carol! Gosh, it would be so nice if there was a character depot! the only way I uncover characters is by writing the first draft, I've found.

  24. J.L., thanks for hosting Carol.

    Carol, it's interesting learning how your characters come about. Now I know why they seem so real.

    Thoughts in Progress

  25. Medeia - Try it and wait for the the fireworks!

    Donna - Mine surprise me, too. Bribery is a great choice!

    Talli - I'm like you. No matter how much I think I know before I start to write, I learn SO much more in first draft.

    Mason - I'm glad they seem real! Thanks :)

  26. Cute! I love the thought of threatening your characters into doing what you want. If only it worked that way, right? :-D

  27. Yes! Characters definitely need the time to get to know. Great post!

  28. Caryn - There have been times I've tried everything I knew. Finally I changed her name and she laughed at me. Told me it was high time I figured that out :)

    Lynda - So true.

  29. A hero with a stray eye? Now that sounds mean. I bet you heard a loud no on that one!

  30. Shelley - It gets interesting around here, LOL!

  31. Joy - I had such a great time here with you. Thanks again for your wonderful hospitality. Why did you let me drink that last cup of rum punch :)

  32. You're welcome. Come back anytime. Not to worry, the effects are not long-lasting. ;)

  33. Characters are so important. I wish there was depot to go hang out with some of them. :)


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