Using Astrology to Define Characters

Well, this is a groovy post!  I have always been interested in astrology, probably because my mother was interested in it during my childhood.  Growing up in the 1970s, I remember seeing books such as Linda Goodman’s “Sun Signs” & “Love Signs” on the living room bookshelf.  Although I don’t rely on astrology as an “end all, be all” source of information, I have always felt that it can provide a generalization about a person’s personality.  Using sun signs to help define my characters’ personalities is a lot of fun and it gives the reader something to think about in terms that they may be familiar with.  Most people know what their own sun sign is and have an idea, if somewhat vague, about the other eleven.  The use of astrology works particularly well in my novel because it takes place in a time period when that type of “alternative” way of looking at people & life was in vogue.  I try to use it  sparingly as well as generally, such as making my two most successful, strong & driven characters Capricorns while the artist is a Scorpio as is the troubled, intense biker.  Of course, making the characters interested in astrology as well is a great way to incorporate the definitions of each sign without sounding like a loon!  I let the characters talk about it so that it becomes part of the overall story as it would have been during the 1960s & 1970s.  BTW-what’s your sign?  Mine’s Pisces…

The Importance of Music in Fiction

I am a music lover.  Always have been.  It’s probably my biggest passion behind writing.  I like all genres with the exceptions of modern-day pop, country & dance.  My favorite music by far is good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll.  Sixties, Seventies, some Eighties, some Nineties.   Using music in writing is every bit as important to me as the setting & character description.  I chose specific songs to enhance a scene or give the reader a clue to a character’s personality.  If you’re familiar with the song or artist, then you will instantly glean a correct impression of that character.  In my novel, which takes place between the great musical years of 1964-1977, I set a dinner party scene with John Coltrane’s classic jazz album, “Blue Train”.  This gives an idea of intelligence to the character who is being highlighted as well as a sophisticated & relaxed air to the scene.  Another hint to personalities is to name a character’s favorite group (John Clark’s is the Allman Bros. while his brother Pete’s favorite album is “Electric Music for the Mind & Body” by Country Joe & the Fish).  Music is so important to me & by extension, my characters, that I cannot imagine writing without it.

Naming Fictional Characters

     I take naming my characters pretty seriously.  For my novel, “Red, White & Blues”, I wanted to have everyday names that could be easily related to by most everyone.  The names of my main characters, such as John Clark, Pete Clark, Sandy Porter, Sarah Somerton, Louise Sinclair, Edie McCabe-even Mike Blackhorse-were chosen specifically for their simplicity.  With characters that I wanted a little more impact, such as Morgan Stewart, the President of the fictional motorcycle club, “The Souls of Liberty”, I chose a stronger name, but still left it easy to remember.  For my “resident artist”, I chose Haven Hartford, a somewhat unusual name, but again, pretty easy to remember.  I wrote this book with the express idea that no matter what the situations are, it could be easy for everyone to relate to.  I also wrote my book using simple language, but that is a subject for another blog!  The main sources that I use for naming my characters (usually both first & last names) are two baby name books that I have had for years:  “Name Your Baby” by Lareina Rule and “The New Age Baby Name Book” by Sue Browder.  The latter is obviously for the more unusual or ethnic-inspired names.  When developing a new character, I nearly always know what they look like before I have their name, so I do take that image into consideration when I start searching for their name.  It’s fun to browse the books, looking for that perfect name to pop out at me!