Are you laughing? Okay, good. Because talking about parents can be a very touchy subject. People I have known were given up at birth for adoption. Many lost their parents due to suicide. Another category watched one or both parents suffer from a disease that we should have found a cure for by now. Accidents, estrangements, other medical issues, all have claimed the lives of other parents. I lost my mother to complications of diabetes twenty some years ago. My father passed away from being old last year. Since then, I have had to think about my characters and their parents.
If we create fiction that is alive and interesting, our characters need the rounded details of where they came from, who raised them, what their parents believed that they either accepted or fought against. My mother did not enjoy going to school. I’m glad I feel differently. My father had deep-seated prejudices he could not escape. I’m relieved I feel differently.
I’m struggling with breathing new life into my work in progress, Crazy for Trying. Hmm, maybe I was trying to tell myself something with that title. Anyway, my mentor Lisa Kessler added depth and plot by suggesting that I know the parents of the MCs. If you have characters that seem shallow, maybe that would be something to look at.
Adam Dorset went to prison for embezzlement but was released when his attorney found evidence that dismissed prior testimony. Now, his father is a policeman with a sterling record who has retired. Adam’s mom passed away from cancer, leaving his father to slip into dementia alone. Once Adam got out of prison, he starts to visit his dad, who is confused as to why his son is wandering free. He believes he should call a friend on the force and report the situation. This drives Adam’s need to clear his name and find the real crook to be punished.
My heroine, Valerie Harding, still has both parents living. Her father is loving and supportive, but a little too mild. Her mother understands that Val needs time to recover from the tragic loss of her husband and child, but she wants to be a grandmother again. She’s pushing her only child to start dating and settle down. Which makes Valerie resistant to any suggestions for people to date that come from her mother.
I’m sure Adam’s family believed in attending church on Sunday. He’s left that belief behind. Valerie did not have a religious upbringing and turned to prayer in the dark hours after losing her family. They both love chocolate. These are things important to know about each one.
In a futuristic romance on the way back burners, I have a hero, Nick, who is the bastard son of a wealthy CEO currently sucking the life out of a particular planet. Nick wants to reintroduce plants and animals to the wasted lands. As our story progresses, we find out that the power and money his father possesses is nothing when compared to the family connections on his mother’s side. Those people never heard of an illegitimate child. Nick is fully entitled to everything Mom provides for him. Of course, he may have to move back home and sit on a throne, but that’s not settled yet.
My Regency Banquet series starts with a key resemblance between Ellen Curtis and her now deceased mother. Her father’s prejudice against the man who asks for Ellen’s hand also directs the flow of the story. Her twin brothers plot to change places due to their father’s position that the heir cannot be allowed to go off to war. When it seems that Roland, posing as Bernard, had been killed, Bernard must decide if he can go the rest of his life pretending to be Roland.
Parents, whether by their presence or their absence, influence our lives in so many ways. And it’s the same with your characters. You should make a list of the things each one received, from dark eyes to odd birthmarks. Have fun with it. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back in Sunday. Can you believe that will be the last Sunday of June, already?