Friday, October 26, 2018


You're in for a treat. Marilyn Meredith, author more than thirty mystery novels, is giving tips on how to develop interesting characters today. Her newest mystery is Tangled Webs. Enjoy.

Marilyn Meredith's comments: How do I develop my characters? I’ll describe my process, which I admit has changed through the years. At one time, I kept a notebook with pages about each character, I no longer do that.

Because I’m writing a series, the main characters are pretty much set at least in the way they look and often act. However, because this is a long ongoing series, of course each one has matured, and in some cases made some drastic changes.

Probably the one who has changed the most is Ryan Strickland. His marriage and the birth of a daughter with Down syndrome truly affected him.  And then there’s Gordon Butler, popular with readers, whose life has become far less traumatic. 

Two of the newer characters in the series are the RBPD Police Chief, Chandra Butler, and the mayor, Devon Duvall. They’ve begun a romance, a romance that might not happen thanks to some surprising news. Though I know a lot about these two, there is much more to be explored.

Two teens play an important part in this latest Rocky Bluff P.D. mystery, one is Detective Milligan’s daughter, Beth, and the other, her new friend, Kayla. Fortunately, I have a good memory of what it’s like during those teen years and I have enough friends and relatives who are still in that age group if I need to ask any questions. 

No matter what character I’m writing about, I try to get inside their head, see what they are seeing and how they see it, how any new events affect them considering what has gone in their lives. 

What new characters arrive on the scene, I jot down important information about them in a notebook I keep beside my computer where I keep other notes about the book I’m writing. 

In the case of all my characters, I see them as real persons. I know what they think, how they will react in certain situations, and how they view their world.  And that’s the way I develop my characters.
Marilyn who writes this series as F. M. Meredith

Blurb for Tangled Webs: Too many people are telling lies: The husband of the murder victim and his secretary, the victim’s co-workers in the day care center, her stalker, and Detective Milligan’s daughter. 


I apologize to Marilyn and the readers but I can't get the comments section to work.

Monday, October 22, 2018


I doubt many novels have been written in which characters didn’t interact (actually or virtually) with other people or animals. Think about it. Relationships, not really appearances or jobs, make characters interesting to readers.

I looked at dozens of columns written by psychologists, experts on managing stress in the workplace, and writers of columns to the “lovelorn.” In essence, they mentioned three key issues central to all relationships. You can add depth to characters in your novels by showing their relationships in terms of these parameters. 

1) Communications
A sympathetic protagonist listens patiently to others. He/she communicates through actions as well as orally. 

Characters not interested in a relationship interrupt, raise their voice, doodle, look at their watch, or pick at their nails when others are talking. They nag their cohorts. These are good traits for villains.

In Murder...A Way to Lose Weight, Abel Raines never really listens to Richard Varegos. He's always busy cleaning his office or doodling. That's how I hint the two colleagues (who are both faulty members at the university hospital and apparent confidants) might not be friends. While the main question in Murder...A Way to Lose Weight is who killed the diet doctor? One of the subplots in this mystery is: what do these two men have in common, besides work? Can they trust each other?

2) Goals 

Allies or lovers, who have no shared goals, are not realistic partners on a long–term basis. The dissolution of shared goals (divorce, business failure, or war) is the basis of strong plots. If one of your character steamrolls the rights of others to attain a shared goal, you have created a villain.

3) Struggle for control
This is universal to all relationships. If you doubt the statement, think about raising children or training a dog. These struggles, when mainly petty bickering, can add humor to fiction or can foreshadow a crisis. 

In She Didn't Know Her Place, the heroine, Dana Richardson, doesn't share the same goals as many of her colleagues at State U. Yes, she wants the university to enlarge its research portfolio but not at the cost of all ethics. She also wants to discover who killed Sally Stein. Most of her colleagues don't care. 

Think of your favorite fictional characters. How do they interact with others? Now think of your neighbors. Which are your favorites? Do they interact with others in a manner similar to the way your favorite characters interact with others?