Characters are my favorite part of stories. When I love a book or a show, it’s usually because of the characters. They become my friends. The more real they are to me, the more they become a part of my heart and the more they influence the kind of person I am.
It’s no surprise, then, that I am a character-driven writer. And my new book Implant is no exception. The very first idea I had for the story was the concept of two men who had a mutual respect even though they hated everything about each other. My favorite things to write are deep and complex relationships--bonds between people who know each other inside and out, and all the ups and downs and hurts and helps that come with things like that. The intimate knowledge of another human being is an adventure with more twists and turns than the wildest roller coaster.
But such relationships don’t spring up overnight or out of nowhere. If you’re going to dabble in relationships, you have to dive headfirst into motivation. Why do these people know each other so well? And why do they react that way? And you have to delve into history. How long have they known each other? How did it start?
There’s always a simple answer to the motivation question, because the core of every motivation can be boiled down to need. The person needs something. They need help, expertise, validation, sex, company, a certain feeling. At best, perhaps they only need to know they’re helping someone else. But they need something from the relationship. So I looked at this relationship and asked “What do these two need from each other?” It turned out, for all the complexities of the relationship itself, the need was simple: help. They both needed help. One of a practical nature, one of a more emotional.
The historical question, on the other hand, has no one answer. It’s always different. Soldiers who have served together in the trenches for a few weeks can know each other better than siblings who have known each other for their whole lives. People who survived a traumatic event together for a few hours may know each other even better. External events, individual personalities, circumstances, and much more goes into this particular equation. Again, in the case of the relationship in Implant, there had been a chance meeting connected with the influence of the Implants, and the two men had known each other for over twenty years. Though they hadn’t worked together or known each other very well at all for most of that time.
Most of these kinds of questions will never be answered outright in the story itself. But it’s always good to explore them for my own sake, to help the characters pop off the page and become real people. People that the reader can walk with, listen to, and get to know.
Once that happens then maybe, just maybe, they’ll become a part of the reader’s heart, just as they have for my own.
About the lovely Miss Pennington:
J. Grace Pennington has been reading stories as long as she can remember, and writing them almost as long. She is also a prolific medical transcriptionist, amateur musician, chocolate eater, daughter, sister, friend, and laundry folder. She lives in Texas, and if she was part of the Implant society, her role in the rebellion would probably be monitoring current events and correspondence in the computer center.