“You write about what you know, and you write about what you want to know.” —Joyce Maynard
I wrote Calculated Risk mostly from what I, or my husband, know.
With curiosity and research, we can learn much about a subject. But often:
It’s easier to create a character when we know personally his job, personality & interests. Click to tweet.
The main characters in Calculated Risk are good examples. They’re extreme opposites. Nick is an analytical actuary, and Cisney is an expressive marketing rep.
Why I could make my characters believable in their jobs.
- As a retired health actuary, I know actuaries evaluate the financial risks of insurance companies.
- I worked twenty-five years with male actuaries. I observed many are intelligent, analytical, introverted, private, poor communicators, and a bit weird.
- My husband, John, is a retired actuary. I know he’s smart, wants to be right, and is decisive.
- I worked with marketing reps. They tend to be expressive and friendly.
- I observed marketing reps with clients. In their desire to please clients, they sometimes agree to things they’re unsure they can deliver.
- I saw how actuaries and marketing reps get along.
- While many actuaries are poor communicators, many marketing reps only think they’re good communicators. I played up this observation between Cisney and Nick.
- I recalled actuaries’ and marketing reps’ odd behaviors and wrote similar incidences.
These were fodder for humor.
Why I could make Nick and Cisney believable in their personalities.
- One personality test labeled me an expressive analytical. An oxymoron. Very distracting for me. I knew these traits would be distracting for Nick and Cisney. So I coined, opposites distract.
- As an expressive analytical, I could get inside Nick’s analytical mind and into Cisney’s expressive nature.
- Plus, analytical introvert John was the role model for Nick.
- Nick dislikes his mom relating stories or people asking questions about his private life. Cisney eats up drawing answers from him and hearing stories about him.
- An actuary at work often thought so long, I’d almost burst to fill the silence. His eventual answers were excellent. Nick has long but productive thinking moments that drive Cisney crazy.
- As an expressive, I sometimes speak before I think. This was perfect for Cisney, causing her problems with Nick.
- Sticky notes pepper my office. Cisney lives by them. This quirk amuses Nick.
Why I could make Nick and Cisney believable in their interests.
- John listens to 70s tunes. He likes chess and thinking games.
- Besides charts and numbers, I love to be creative and make people laugh.
- I’ve studied the Bible for years.
- Cisney calls Nick’s 70s music doo-wap songs. He’d like to correct her that “doo-wap” is a 50’s or 60’s term.
- Cisney prefers classical music. On Nck’s family’s grand piano, she plays “Flight of the Bumble Bee,” the piece my German flute teacher flaunted.
- After she’s jilted, Nick’s biblical knowledge gives Cisney a new perspective.
- Cisney likes eliciting laughs from Nick to enjoy his dimple.
- The chess game John helped me write prods Cisney to see Nick in a new way. You’ll have to read Calculated Risk to find out how.
How have you used what you KNOW in creating characters?