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Characters and the Writing Process

All this month we have been checking in with other writers to see how they confront the writing process. It has been interesting and they prove the point we keep making over and over. No two writers will approach writing their books exactly the same.  Many don't even approach writing their own books the same every time they set out to work on a new story.

Most often the story dictates how it is written, or as others have said, their characters might be the determining factors in how the writer approaches the book. 

Today, as we wrap up this informal look at the writing process we hear from historical romance writer, Margaret Tanner of Australia. Her latest book is Haunted Hearts.

Margaret, tell us a little about your writing process. How do you come up with your plots?
Because I love Australian history, in fact all history, plots abound in my fertile imagination, but I do seem to get my best plot ideas in the middle of the night. I write them down, (pen and paper by my bed), so I won’t forget them. I usually take a historical event to use as my main background and then manufacture some catastrophic, life changing event for the main characters. What could they do to stop it? How will it change them and those around them?

How do you develop your characters?
I develop my characters to fit in with the era I am writing about. I normally don’t write character profiles, except for the briefest of outlines, but I try to walk in their shoes so to speak, and to get inside their head.

How do you develop heroines, heroes and villains?
My heroines are resourceful, not afraid to fight for her family and the man she loves. I want my readers to be cheering for her, willing her to obtain her goals, to overcome the obstacles put in her way by rugged frontier men. For my heroes, I like them to be dark and tortured. They might be seeking revenge, trying to consolidate their fortunes, but all of them will have something in their backgrounds, some dark deed that has tainted their lives. As for my villains, I like them to be evil with no redeeming features.

Thank you, Margaret for giving us some insight into your writing. Where can readers visit you online?

Now that we have looked at the various ways writers approach their work, let's turn to characters. Starting next week our focus will be on how writers come up with their great characters and we'll introduce some of the wonderful story people out there.

If you would like to leave a comment about your writing process or ask a question or make a comment for Margaret, please do so.


  1. Hi Rebecca,
    Thank you for inviting me over to visit. I am a historical author, but Haunted Hearts is a contemporary romance, my one and only.




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