EMELIA - 09.16.20
September 16, 2020
Emelia, in my novel "Death on the High Seas," seemed to expand in my mind as I wrote about her. I ended up with pages of backstory over the first few weeks of writing. – Beautiful, From Small Isolated Village, Swedish, Lonely, Dreamer, Smart, Wanting More, Seeking Love, Dominant Father, Hunting Animals . . .
"Emelia studied her face in the hallway mirror before heading downstairs to the street. Her lips curled up in approval at how the slight touch of makeup she had just put on enhanced her natural beauty."
I'm sure my readers have noticed that I spend more time in my FBI Special Agent Hartmann Series writing about the antagonists than the protagonists.
Part of the reason this occurs is I'm writing a series where Hartmann and his squad are known characters to the reader from a previous book. The other reason is that the mindset of the protagonists is what I'm trying to convey. Who are they, and why did they do what they did? And that takes some time to develop. The antagonist is what the plot is about. It's the protagonist's job to find out about the antagonist.
My plots are always tied to a murder. Therefore the "Death" series - "Death & Taxes," "Death on the High Seas," and next "Death Behind the Pink Wall." But there is always something more than just murder. There is gang activity, white-collar stealing, money laundering, love, hate . . .
What makes a particular person or group commit a specific type of crime that includes murder? While a plot (the crime and murder) can be interesting, the person who committed it is more interesting. What makes my antagonist commit the deed? What pushes them over the edge? Peer pressure? Greed? Poverty, Parental Neglect, Discrimination, Tribalism, Intimidation? Love? Passion? Dependence? Rejection? Retaliation? Attitude? Stupidity? When building an antagonist, I explore all of these, plus more. Then I try and convey them in a meaningful way. I spend a lot of time thinking about and piecing together the right traits to make a believable character.
I must admit, from reading the news and Googling crime files, there are a lot of real people who do unbelievable things.
Yes, Hartmann and his squad are critical to my writing and these characters will grow as the series evolves. You will learn more about them. I love them. But, they are most interesting when they are looking for an antagonist.