Thursday, March 21, 2013

Making Sure My Main Characters aren’t “Too Good to Be True”

 I want to welcome Marilyn Meredith as a guest blogger to my Musings today. For those of you, like me, who love a good mystery series, Marilyn has created an interesting "family" of characters in her Rocky Bluff P.D. series. I was curious how she balances her hero/heroine so they're like real people...with all the foibles needed to make them fascinating! Let's see how Marilyn does this so well....

Libby asked me to tell how I avoid making the hero or heroine too good a person to be believed. Honestly, I’ve never quite thought about in this way.

In the Rocky Bluff P.D. series, I have a group of characters who appear in each book—at times in the forefront; at others with smaller parts.
Detective Doug Milligan appeared first in Fringe Benefits as a police officer with family problems that exploded after the murder of his babysitter.  He was plagued by depression when his wife left him. He’s had other problems through the series, but at the moment, life is pretty good.

Stacey Milligan appeared a few books later as Stacey Wilbur.  A relationship develops between her and Doug, culminating in marriage. She is far from perfect, and doesn’t always keep her mind on her job. Though she’d like him to, her son Davey doesn’t always come first because her work interferes.

Officer Felix Zachary has had some difficult times in earlier books relating to a shooting, his family being unhappy because he didn’t marry an African American woman, and now frustration with his wife in Dangerous Impulses.

Wendy Zachary has been a good wife up 'til now; the arrival of her and Felix’s first child has caused much self-doubt.

Family problems have distracted Sergeant Abel Navarro in the past and he had a bout of guilt when he made sergeant instead of Zachary, who seemed the most likely candidate until the fateful shooting of an unarmed suspect.

Officer Vaughn Aragon ruined his marriage and nearly his career because of an unresolved problem.

Self-centered Ryan Strickland has kept a huge secret, which, if confessed, might ruin his marriage. He also is confronted with a new family crisis that he isn’t sure he’s man enough to handle.

His wife Barbara has been through a lot beginning with the first book. Though revered by many, she loves to talk. She’s now facing another big crisis, one that she might have to face alone.

And then there’s Officer Gordon Butler, much loved by fans of the series, who has more than his share of troubles, though seldom are they his fault. He longs for someone to fall in love with and often picks the wrong girl.

I’ve come to know these people quite well since I’ve written about them over a period of years. I really do know their strengths and weaknesses, and something these attributes, or lack of, help in planning the plots.

Now a bit about Dangerous Impulses:

An attractive new-hire captivates Officer Gordon Butler, Officer Felix Zachary’s wife Wendy is befuddled by her new baby, Ryan and Barbara Strickland receive unsettling news about her pregnancy, while the bloody murder of a mother and her son and an unidentified drug that sickens teenaged partiers jolts the Rocky Bluff P.D.


The person who comments on the most blog posts on this tour may have a character named after him or her in the next Rocky Bluff P.D. crime novel or choose a book from the previous titles in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series in either paper or for Kindle.

Rocky Bluff P.D. Series:

Though each book in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series is written as a stand-alone, I know there are people who like to read a series in order. From the beginning to the end:

Final Respects
Bad Tidings
Fringe Benefits
Smell of Death
No Sanctuary
An Axe to Grind
Angel Lost
No Bells
Dangerous Impulses

F. M. Meredith’s Bio:
F.M. is also known as Marilyn Meredith, the author of the Deputy Tempe Crabtree series. She first became interested in writing about law enforcement when she lived in a neighborhood filled with police officers and their families. The interest was fanned when her daughter married a police officer and the tradition has continued with a grandson and grandson-in-law who are deputies. She’s also serves on the board of the Public Safety Writers Association, and has many friends in different law enforcement fields. For twenty plus years, she and her husband lived in a small beach community located in Southern California much like the fictional Rocky Bluff. She is a member of three chapters of Sisters in Crime, Epic, and Mystery Writers of America.

And I’m on Facebook and Twitter as MarilynMeredith

Tomorrow I’m visiting

Thanks for visiting, Marilyn!

Libby McKinmer
Romance with an edge
Find me on Facebook, Twitter & Goodreads


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thank you so much for having me today. It was a fun topic to write about.

Lorna Collins - Author said...

I adore all the characters. They are what keep the reader coming back for the next book in the series.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Marilyn,

The book sounds really good! I like series mysteries and also the fact that your characters are not perfect and therefore like real people. Wishing you continued success.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks, Lorns and Jacqueline for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Evelyn Cullet said...

You really do have some complex characters, Marilyn. But that's why readers are so eager to read the next novel in your series.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Thanks for stopping by Evelyn and the compliment on my characters. Nice to hear.

Michelle Perin said...

Thank you for sharing how to keep characters real Marilyn. I'm in the process of developing characters now (or should I say they are revealing themselves to me) and this advice is helpful. Have a wonderful day.