Art ~ Writing ~ Life

From Handprints To Footprints

Dealing With Characters

March 11, 2015
Steve Campbell


During a bout with the flu in January, I began constructing the story outline for Verawenda Erickson’s next story. I saw her with both new characters and old ones—the latter familiar to me. The new ones were sketches, barely walking and talking those two months ago. Some didn’t have names.

I put them together and let them play off each other, seeing their actions and reactions in my mind. Some played well together; others didn’t while I took them through the measures of acting out the story I planned for them. Some even balked at doing what I wanted them to do. Nothing tests an author’s tolerance more than stubborn characters who don’t want to go by the script.

Some characters can even take over a story and bring a book’s production to a standstill with their demands to change the script to match their desires. I’ve heard that some authors kill off these demanding types just to get the story back on track. Other authors give in and sometimes end up writing a better story than they’d planned.

There’s an adage among authors to keep the character pool to a bare minimum. This helps keep down the noise of their demands. It’s confounding trying to direct a stage of overzealous characters who’ve developed giant egos and are always interrupting production. It’s all “Me, me, me,” and “She has better dialogue than I do.” Perhaps this is why so many authors drink excessively while they write. Luckily, I’ve been able to keep away from the booze and other drugs.

Also lucky for me is having a main character who does everything I ask of her without question. Vree tackles every scene with gusto and keeps it real. She is probably the best character I’ve ever breathed life into. Characters like her are the reason for trilogies and series stories. No author ever wants to lose them. They’re the reason readers come back for more. Add a great story every time and the rest is a relationship that can last for many years.

Long live Vree and characters who make stories real.

This Writer’s Life

April 11, 2012
Steve Campbell

After a morning of writing my strange and spooky fiction (He thinks he’s a writer of the macabre, folks!) and then a day at a mind-bending and almost thankless 9-to-5 job, I’m back at the keyboard writing my blog and losing track of time and everyone and everything around me … until I pause long enough to look at the clock and see the hour is late and I’m really tired.

But I go on and post my thoughts to anyone who cares enough to read about me.

I have been busy this week working on my web sites and trying to redefine them. I have a site for my artwork and another for my writing. All get visited, but only a few people comment their thoughts and opinions. Others sneak in and out, never recording a thing. These are the ones I wonder about. Why didn’t they comment? The Internet is a highway for communicating, after all.

But I go on and post to the expansive as well as the quiet ones because I have a voice inside I can’t silence. Every moment sparks a new idea for either a story or a painting … or both. But it’s the voice of the writer that burns brightest, the voice that won’t leave me alone while I’m trying to sleep.

Words call out, form sentences and create moments from a story in my mind: A lascivious young woman reclined in classic fine-art repose upon a lounge chair covered in multicolored satin linens and silk scarves. Her face was the color of the finest gold, ruby and sapphire. Her emerald green eyes sparkled. Her long auburn hair flowed down a seemingly endless body of extraordinary purity that glowed like a summer sunset in a garden of carnations and lilies.

What does that paragraph mean? I don’t know. But here I communicate to you a voice calling out to be heard.

And such is this writer’s life.


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