by Carole Brown
When writing a series (or trilogy or whatever) with different protagonists in each book, how do you keep the characters from becoming the same in looks and actions and personalities?
In my case, these characters and their individual stories were easy to write about because I could see them vividly in my mind, and they were real. Their passions, their dreams and their approach to life might be different, but it also shows they’re family by their loyalty to each other.
Three of the ways that are similar:
- Red hair.
- Independent and strong.
- Longing for the right romance and man.
Three ways they’re different:
- Passions: life interests
- Dreams: their plans for the future and romance
- Approach: the way they attain their dreams
Today I want to talk about the differences in the two protagonists in
- With Music in Their Hearts (Book 1) and
the two protagonists in my upcoming second book in this series:
- A Flute in the Willows (Book Two).
and the two in the third, future book:
- Sing Until You Die (Book Three)
With Music in Their Hearts:
- Emma Jaine Rayner: red hair, hazel “color-changing” eyes, strong-willed, and a bit bossy. She doesn’t think of herself as particularly talented; plays the piano “adequately,” and though she loves her sisters dearly, feels a bit obligated in caring for her two younger sisters and her father too. Wanting to be beneficial during war time, she opened the Rayner Boarding House in her home, and oversees the management of it. She is a bit bossy and a shallow Christian in word only, but soon learns from Tyrell’s ministry the true meaning. She longs for a romance like the other girls her age, but there seems a lack of available men who interest her.
- Tyrell Walker: strong, black hair, moss-green colored eyes, confident, civilian spy. Raised by his Christian grandparents after his parents were killed, he and his cousin, Ben Hardy grew up together in plenty of escapades of fun and adventure. Tyrell followed the line of his ancestors and chose ministry as a career, but when WWII broke out, he was chosen to serve as a civilian spy. Disgruntled at not being able to see action, he nevertheless puts all he has in locating the foreign spy in the boarding house.
Their suspicions of each other create the personal tension. Their interest in each other create the romance.
A Flute in the Willows (book cover reveal coming soon):
- Josephine (Josie) Rayner Patterson: Cinnamon brown eyes, wild, curly, chestnut-red hair, tall, willowly thin, active, excellent ice skater, talented flutist, confident in these abilities, but awkward in social atmospheres, blunt and careless w/other’s feelings.
In the first book, she and Jerry eloped much to the consternation of the rest of the family.
- Jerry Patterson: dark, almost black hair, sulky attitude, blue eyes, and a devil-may-care attitude. He loathes his overbearing father and has done everything possible to distance himself from him.
When he fell in love with Josie, she was the best thing that had happened to him. He enlisted in the service, and left soon after his marriage, and his natural abilities advanced him faster than most men would have normally. He’s a super spy with excellent senses and abilities.
Neither one professes any interest in spiritual things, and shy away from pressure to attend church or the subject of Christianity.
Sing Until You Die (book cover ready to go!):
- Claire Rose Rayner: strawberry blond, amazing blue eyes, confident, a bit snobby, flirty, sings like an angel, determined and pretty much knows her own mind, the closest of the three sisters to a true relationship with God. She despises (in words) Wills Mason because of his and Josie’s antics growing up. When the war starts, she puts her singing training on hold to enlist in entertaining the troops.
She’s not particularly happy when she must turn to Wills for help after hearing a threat to the government.
- William (Wills) Mason: high-average in height, slim, but well built, sandy-colored hair that is spiky and thick, sports a trim mustache, has a humor that sometimes borders on going-to-far teasing, smart and a highly trained spy. He’s a staunch Christian, and the son of employees of the Rayner Boarding House, and was raised almost like a son to Claire’s father. Best friends with Josie, his heart belongs only to Claire, the haughty sister of the group.
When Claire is forced to ask Wills for help, he’s delighted. Not only that he can help her solve a serious problem for the government, but also because of being able to spend time with her.
Her supposed dislike of the boy turned man soon turns to respect and more while Wills has a chance to see the depth of spirit from the girl he and Josie used to tease.
What do you think? Tell me, how do YOU keep your characters in a series from becoming carbon copies?