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Creating Character Impact

What is it that makes a series of novels flourish? How does a TV series manage to go on for 10 seasons or more? A lot of creative elements make up books, TV and movies. But even within a great plot or superb writing it's the characters that endear themselves to the audience.

Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black
Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black

Case in point: Orphan Black. The series about human cloning.

Here you have one actress playing multiple characters. So, how did Tatiana Maslany make the audience believe these were all separate individuals even though they all had her face? It's in that answer where you find the root of character impact.

Maslany gave each of her clones certain nuances that differentiated them all from each other. Whether it was their dialect or their body language, she created a template for the clones that she, and her double, could slip into to become that character.

As an author, I often create a template for my own character creations. Sometimes I go deep with backstory that will never make it into a book. But it's there for me to draw from so I know how these characters react to certain stimuli. And that's why I give them flaws and decidedly human distinctions. It's in the realism that the character is born and impacts the reader. Just like Tatiana Maslany gave birth to her clone characters in a sense.

When writing my Las Vegas based thriller Lucky Sevens so many years ago, I tapped into some darker nature of humanity. My lead protagonist is a recovering alcoholic who talks to ghosts. His girlfriend is a stripper with a history of abuse. These are real people coming off my page. So, when they beckoned me to write more books set in the world, I couldn't ignore the call.

It's the first time I'm revisiting a setting with new players. The events that take place in Lucky Sevens will spill over into book 2 of the Vegas Vendettas trilogy but new characters are being introduced into the world alongside some mainstays.

The adventures are new, but the song remains the same. These are supernatural thrillers based in Las Vegas with the events surrounding the fictional hotel/casino called Saints & Sinners. Even the casino becomes an impactful character.

As I set out to make this new series a reality, I had to revisit Lucky Sevens. It needed a new coat of paint for the cover and I wanted to tighten some storylines. What I wound up with was same Vegas, more magic!

But within revisiting those characters, I remembered how much fun it was to write them. Even the most sadistic of the lot was impactful. Sometimes, the characters with the secrets are more captivating than the intended protag.

I watched a show called Rookie Blue recently where the lead girl Andy was too annoying to rally behind. However, one of the side characters Gail had so much more depth to her story that she intrigued me enough to keep watching.

When you breathe true life into all your characters something magical happens. Your intended audience finds someone to relate to. That's so important when you're trying to reach people through words on a page.

Lucky Sevens is one of my all time favorite books that I've written. It's a love letter to my hometown and the theme of it is on par with Dean Koontz, the author who inspired me to start writing. I hope you check out Lucky Sevens and the rest of the Vegas Vendettas series!




"Original Cyn" Cynthia Vespia writes fantasy novels with edge. This blog is dedicated to all things fantasy and my author journey.


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