The Dirty Details

The Making of Simon

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read Deception& Consequences yet, you may want to avoid this article.

People read fiction to be entertained. It’s not informative, intellectual, or even the least bit useful in the big scheme of life. But isn’t that the beauty of it? For avid fiction readers, there’s nothing better than reading a book that takes them to a different time and place with an unreal storyline that’s completely unlikely. Most fiction readers need the plot to be beyond what’s actually possible in their ordinary lives. The author’s job, therefore, is to stretch possibilities to new limits and make believers out of those readers. 

Now, here’s the part you might not expect. There’s one element that pulls a fiction plot together and makes the unreal, real, and it’s not a tight timeline or detailed setting.

Those elements are killer to have, but the difficult task of making fiction believable is more closely tied to doing the hard work of character development. 

Since fiction dips its toe into the pool of unlikely circumstances, no one is going to buy-in if the characters aren’t absolutely authentic and believable. The Holy Grail for fiction writers is to create characters so real that your readers can love and hate them simultaneously, root for them even when they’re deplorable, and feel their humanity with ever fiber of their being. These qualities can make even the most outlandish storyline believable. 

In Deception & Consequences my initial focus was the female protagonist, Aria Donalson. Quite unexpectedly, however, the men in her life took on a more dynamic role, and I found myself thinking more about their personalities and backstories than hers. 

Backstories— that’s an important point. An author must not only create characters in the here and now. They have to have a past like a real person. Their behavior and beliefs today have been shaped by their past experiences. Taking a character’s entire life into consideration is the difference between a well-rounded character and a flat one-dimentional one.

Let’s talk about Simon because even though he only appears in the first part of the book, I really worked hard to make his character complex and conflicted— both evil to the core and loveable. Simon is that deplorable but intriguing character I mentioned earlier. We hate him one moment, and we are his biggest supporter the next.

 I knew Aria’s true love would be Mac, and I had to start laying the groundwork for that relationship to develop, but I couldn’t do that too soon. I wanted the reader to find some little corner of their heart that wished the situation would work out differently at the landing strip. And I had to temporarily take Mac out of the equation, so Simon would have a fighting chance in the hearts of my readers.

Also, by making Simon a victim of circumstance in the notorious Halprin world of crime, the reader knew he wasn’t a born killer. He was forced to assimliate into that way of life for his own survival. This detail was yet another piece of the puzzle, making Simon worthy of at least a little sympathy from the readers.

I had two goals where Simon was concerned. First, by adding his backstory and by having him redeem himself in the end, it was my hope that he could fluctuate between being a despicable dirt bag and a sexy bad boy. Second, I hoped that Simon’s highly unlikely, fictional world as a killer, sex-trafficker, and kidnapper was more believable because of his well-developed character.

 I am not 100% sure I achieved my goals, but many of my readers have commented on the way they absolutely loved and hated Simon at the same time. With comments like that one, I’m tempted to put a check by Simon’s goal box. He is truly one of my favorite characters in Deception & Consequences, but admittedly, not the one Aria deserved.

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