So, you have an idea, just this little kernel of an idea… a theme, a place, a space in time, and now you want to make this little kernel into a big ol’ story. What’s the first thing I do? I think of my characters. Who’s going to live in this world, eat its food, drink its water, run and play in its space? When I set out to write these stories, I had the basics. I wanted to write about the last city on Earth, how everything here had been destroyed and these people were the last. They were happy but Earth couldn’t sustain them anymore and it was time to get up and go. I wanted to write about them and how they would make that transition from one place to another. But I didn’t know anything about the people (yet) so I started with my two protagonists, Sanaa and Jiro.
It took me a while to settle on names but I did, and yes, the names have significance (don’t they all?) but the hardest part was crafting personalities for them. How they would act? Was Sanaa smart or ditzy? Was she loyal or flighty? What about Jiro? A clueless boy or in touch with the things around him? Was he passionate or lazy? Distractible or intent?
In the beginning there were so many questions, and I remember sitting at my computer for days trying to get in touch with them and who they were. It was a real stumbling block and frustrating until I found the key.
You see, I’m a practical person. I analyze. I use a lot of logic. I’m secular, somewhat spiritual but not at all religious. I think that having a job that makes money defines a person (I still struggle with being a stay-at-home mom). I can be cold but I’m loyal and loving to my friends and family.
Can you guess my sign?
I’m a Capricorn through and through. My birthday is on the cusp of Aquarius and that softens my Type A personality somewhat but I love being a Capricorn. I identify with it and will proudly tell anyone who asks (and some who don’t).
This was it! A personality makeup I could understand and relate to! I decided that I would make Sanaa a Capricorn and started to research. Capricorns are practical and prudent, ambitious and disciplined, patient and careful, humorous and reserved, but they are also pessimistic, miserly, and fatalistic. They’re overly concerned with public appearance. They’re somber and reserved but not with those they love and trust. I’ve read up on everything Capricorns are and have used a lot of this in building Sanaa’s personality. I really wanted to provide a role model that displays the things I love and hate about myself. I can identify with Sanaa and can write from her place. She and I are different but we have a lot in common.
Then choosing a personality for Jiro became a fun exercise. I looked at all the compatible signs and decided that I wanted him to be a powerhouse of a person, someone intimidating and mysterious, someone that would immediately draw in a confident Capricorn. I settled on making Jiro a Scorpio, and I had no idea when I made that choice how much I would grow to love Scorpios since then.
Scorpios are determined and forceful, emotional and intuitive, powerful and passionate, exciting and magnetic, but they are also jealous and resentful, compulsive and obsessive, secretive and obstinate. They hate having to trust strangers but their deep sensitivity makes them the best and most loyal friend. Watch out if you cross them though because they love to take revenge and are formidable enemies. They enjoy mysteries and puzzles, and are quite skilled in bed (ahem.)
Sanaa and Jiro, though my biggest players, are not the only people in these books. Now that I’m writing Book 3 in this series, I have a huge cast of characters and I know the signs for each of them! I’ve set aside key traits and descriptions on every person and often flip back to them when I’m writing a scene that heavily features one of them. It’s not a lie that I’ve become very good at astrology since I came upon this method of fleshing out my characters. I can analyze just about anyone now based on their sign.
Anyway, once I had Sanaa and Jiro figured out, I enjoyed peeling away the layers of their public lives and showing the personal lives underneath. Astrology gave me a good foundation to build on. The signs don’t necessarily define my characters but provide the nature of their personalities. I then had to provide the nurture, give them the past that would shape them into the people they are when you open the book and meet them for the first time.
And I can’t wait for you all to meet them.