Published by Black Dot Publishing Ltd
ebook: 21 February 2017 | Paperback : 27 April 2017
Having loved Rachel’s last book – Kill Me Again (reviewed here), I was delighted to be offered a copy of The Sixth Window to review and to be invited to take part in the blog tour. For my turn today, I have a post from Rachel on creating characters and, a detailed character profile for Natalie.
by Rachel Abbott
When I start coming up with ideas for a new book, I always start with the story in outline form. What happens, and who does it happen to?
Then I start to think about my characters – who are they? What do they look like? What are their key characteristics? Strangely, after the main elements of the story have been identified, it’s the characters who almost dictate how it moves forward, because the more I get to know them, the more I know how they would react. I read somewhere that I should know each of my major characters as well as their therapist would, and that’s what I aim to achieve.
This is the process that I try to follow.
What do they look like?
My first port of call is Google images. It’s sometimes hard NOT to end up with a cast of seriously glamorous people – the kind of people who would come up first in a Google search. So another option is to go onto Pinterest, or to a hair styles site and see who you can find who looks like your version of the character.
The image below is one that I chose for my character NATALIE GRAY in The Sixth Window. I knew she had red hair, and she’s had a tough time because her husband died, so she’s been very sad. I wanted her to have a vulnerable look about her, but now that I have a picture I can see her when I write about her knowing that I will be consistent in any descriptions.
That’s the easy part done. Then I have to start building up everything I know about the character, and sometimes that process can take two or three days. But it’s a job well done.
There are some basics required for each character with the entries that I made for Natalie Gray.
Role in Story:
Bernie’s wife, Ed’s new girlfriend, Scarlett’s mother, Alison’s long time best friend.
Publicist for a large corporation. She has a new boss who is a pain. She’s good at her job, but needs to be flexible so she does take work home.
Tall – 5 feet 10 inches, red wavy hair, shoulder length. Large dark blue eyes, long thin nose, wide upper lip.
Lives by strict rules, but hides from the truth, preferring to believe things will sort themselves out. Honest, a good friend, but hates confrontation of any kind. The only time she stands up for anybody is when her daughter, Scarlett, is under threat.
Drinks too much when stressed – preferably white – but generally resists drink. She’s quite messy and doesn’t really enjoy housework.
Was married (happily, until recent months) to Bernie, and was content with her lot. She has always lived in the same area – she went to school there – but her parents have retired to inland Spain. She had planned to go travelling when she was 18, but by then she had met Bernie and never wanted to leave his side again. Her father had a white-collar job so she has never known any form of poverty – but they weren’t rich either. Average in every way.
Internal Conflicts in the story:
I can’t tell you much here, because it would give FAR too much away, but I can say she doesn’t know who to trust or believe.
This relates to things that happen to her that are outside of her control. Again, not something that I can share here as it would spoil the story, but may include things like Social Services investigating the welfare of her child, or a man is stalking her, for example.
But these are just the basics for any character who gets more than a line or two. For the main characters, much more detail is required.
If any of my usual readers are checking out this post, you might remember Leo Harris – Tom’s ex girlfriend.
There is usually a section that I complete on Spirituality, and when I wrote Leo’s character description, I said,
“She only really believes in herself. Hates men because of her father. Makes great efforts never to care about anybody or anything – because that’s what she learned when she realised that her adored father was actually not married to her mother, but had a different family and another (much loved) daughter”
I also had sections on LIKES and DISLIKES, GREATEST STRENGTHS, GREATEST WEAKNESSES.
Her LIKES included
Vodka on the rocks
Bright red lipstick
overtly sexy underwear
And her DISLIKES
Women who love men – particularly simpering women
Women who say they can’t possibly eat something because it’s fattening – rather than just sayin no thank you.
Soppy music, films, books
Women who say they’ll ‘just have a white wine spritzer’
And so the list goes on, to include BASIC GOAL, DESIRES, PAST TRAUMAS, CHARACTER SECRETS
It may seem like a long job, but as a writer I invent many characters and they have to be distinctive. So imagining their behaviour in all its forms is essential.
About the book:
The perfect man… or a perfect stranger?
After eighteen months of grieving for her husband Bernie, killed in a horrific hit and run accident, Natalie Grey has found love with her husband’s best friend – Ed Cooper – and has moved herself and fifteen year old daughter, Scarlett, into his home. But Natalie begins to suspect Ed has a dark side – and even darker intentions.
Desperate to get her daughter to a place of safety, she and Scarlett move to a new home that holds secrets of its own. But has removing Scarlett from one potential threat placed her in far greater danger?
DCI Tom Douglas is also chasing the truth, as his investigation into the suicide of a teenage girl draws him ever closer to Natalie and Scarlett. But will he be too late to protect them from the peril they face, or from the truths that will tear their lives apart?
About the author:
Rachel Abbott, who was born and raised in Manchester, founded her own interactive media company in the
1980s, before selling it and retiring in 2005. She then moved to Italy where she worked on the renovation of a
15th century Italian monastery, and it was here that, one day, she found herself snowed in and decided to
begin writing for pleasure. This became her debut novel Only The Innocent, which she went on to publish via
Kindle Direct Publishing, topping their chart for 4 weeks. Abbott has since written The Back Road, Sleep Tight, Stranger Child , Kill Me Again and a novella, Nowhere Child. She splits her time between Alderney in the Channel Islands and Italy.