It turns out I’m more sinister than I thought. I had no problem outlining a romantic story for my protagonists in my newest work. As I began drafting the manuscript, I could well imagine what my main characters looked like, how they dressed and acted. I could hear their voices in the dialogue I wrote for them.
I also knew a few of the trials they would encounter. I knew how “she” would handle each situation and how “he” would eventually come around. I named her Katharine and called her Kate. His name is Samuel but of course he goes by Sam.
I decided to add another layer to the story by making their rural location home to an Amish community as well. That wasn’t difficult to do. I live in Ohio, home to many Amish. I knew I wanted a few elements of Amish, but I didn’t want this to be an Amish book.
Then, as if I hadn’t challenged myself enough, I decided to add an element of suspense to the manuscript. Totally new for me. I enjoy reading suspense novels so I thought it was about time I learned to craft one.
So where to start? I decided to create an unknown male character who threatens the safety and well being of the young women in my story.
The Young Women. Let’s see, I have Kate: home from college. She lives with her parents and sister. Kate wants to be a writer. Her dad wants her to be a teacher. “At least that way you’ll be able to make some money until you get published.”
Then there’s Kate’s sister, Elizabeth (or “Lizard” to her big sister). Elizabeth is going to be a senior in high school this year. She’s young, pretty, and smart like Kate.
Sarah is a long time friend of Kate’s. She’s Amish and is a year younger than Kate. She has a secret. A secret she is not supposed to tell, but did share with Kate when they were younger.
Missy works at the local pizza restaurant her parents own. Her parents have high hopes of her taking over their fairly successful business, but Missy wants only to escape her small town roots.
Okay, that proved easy enough. But I wondered if I would be able to create a sinister threat to these young women. I started writing. As I did, I realized that by giving out minimal information from the antagonist’s point of view (POV), I could create a profile that might fit any number of males.
Could it be Eric, the creepy grad student who is more interested in Kate than her writing?
Or is it Bernie, the pimply-faced “acting assistant manager" from the store where two of the girls work part time?
Maybe it is the stranger renting the cabin from Mose Brantley along the river.
Or could it possibly be Sarah’s older brother, Daniel, who never returned from rumspringa some ten years ago? Someone said they saw someone who looked like him.
And is Sam the great guy I initially thought him to be? He does have a temper and is used to getting his way. Mostly though, he doesn’t really want to be stuck in this place. And he wouldn’t be if his father hadn’t made it a condition for Sam to inherit a vast estate.
There are a few other possibilities. Who knew I could be so suspicious and sinister? You? Well, I wish you would have told me!
I've described this work as Mary Higgins Clark meets the Waltons on the outskirts of an Amish community. What do you think? In what direction do these character descriptions lead your imagination? I would LOVE to hear fro you in the comment section.
The end of this month marks the one year anniversary for
I am planning a very special post for March 25 to celebrate.
Mark your calendar.