I’ve put a lot of thought into this question because character and conflict are the keys to great story. Before I can begin to build a detailed plot, I must first focus on character. I love to create and juxtaposing opposites because they can really make the sparks fly, but to make their relationship believable, there has to be more.
When I start a new book, I focus on my character’s internal goals and motivations. I need to know what they want out of life. Once I’ve figured that out I create life roles that are complete opposites. In SENSELESS, Eva Rayburn is brilliant student who can master any task. She is driven by reading and learning. She is also an ex-con, convicted of manslaughter. When the book opens, she is trying to rebuild her life and get back to her education and a sister she’s not seen in a decade. Life had toughened her attitude, hardened her mannerisms and erased her fear of breaking the rules. She’s learned the hard way that nice girls finish last.
Whereas Eva is the ultimate outsider, hero Detective Deacon Garrison is the ultimate insider. He has been in the police department for thirteen years, he is committed to solving crimes and he is close to his parents and sister. He has a clear vision of right and wrong and good and evil. He lives by the rules.
Both characters are fiercely independent and each will do what it takes to get the job done. And while Eva and Garrison are opposites in so many ways, their internal aspirations are quite similar. They both value loyalty and commitment and both will do whatever it takes to protect their family. When one makes a promise it is for life. Though opposites at first glance, they learn there is a great deal to share and love about each other.
Writing Eva and Garrison was great fun. Strong people with strong goals make for great conflict and ultimately a great story. So what are some of your favorite “opposite” heroes and heroines? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Mary Burton captivates readers with stories of mystery, crime and relationships–destined to keep readers on the edge of their seats. Her January 2010 book SENSELESS is a romantic suspense set in Virginia. When she’s not writing her latest novel, she is most definitely in the kitchen cooking.