A Study in Characters

party of fiveAs I finish up the edits for my latest novel, Surrendered (which, if it gets contracted, will be under a different title, I’m sure) my focus needs to shift toward the next story. That means creating characters with enough issues and angst to make them interesting without bordering on a diagnosis that can be found in the DSM-5—the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for those of you who don’t do psychiatry-speak.

With this in mind, I find certain television series to be beneficial. I’m not a big T.V. watcher—who has time for it?—but I do like to multi-task. So, when I work out in our gym (translation = garage) each morning, I watch an hour-long television episode, which, without commercials, breaks down to about forty-five minutes. When Chris and I work out together, we’ll watch something we both enjoy (we’re on an NCIS kick right now) but when I’m alone, I choose something I doubt would hold his interest. Although, I must admit I’ve shared a few of my favs and he’s surprised me.

Right now, I’m in the third season of Party of Five, a 90’s “teen” drama that I never missed in its original showing from 1993-1999. It amazes me that some eighteen years later, I don’t remember anything that happened, so it’s like I’m watching it again for the first time. Some well-known stars came from that little show—Matthew Fox (who looked a lot like my brother back then), Scott Wolf, Neve Campbell and Lacy Chabert. The premise is five kids (or in Matthew Fox’s case, young adult) lose their parents in a car accident and have to find a way to stay together as a family.

Since I write contemporary women’s fiction, these characters are too young to be a basis for my protagonist, but it’s the angst and issues I mentioned earlier that comes from just such a background, which becomes the characters backstory. And it’s the season after season of growth that helps me develop my own story arcs. Plus, it’s just plain fun to lose myself in the lives of fictional characters—which takes my mind off all that huffing and puffing on the treadmill or elliptical. I’d read instead, but it’s doubtful I could get my heart rate up high enough to be beneficial to my health.

I will admit, I don’t love this show as much as I remembered. Maybe it’s the twenty years of maturity that makes me wonder why it is they make such asinine choices. Or it could be my Christian values laying judgment on their non-Christian lives. Either way, it’s still a great study in characters, which is the main point.

As I came to the close of season three, I went to my Netflix account to line season four into my queue only to discover they don’t have it—nor do they have season five or six. Why would they carry some of the seasons and not the others? I had come to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t be able to see how the Salinger family lives come together (or not) when I discovered that Amazon does carry all six seasons. Just one more reason to love Prime! Who knew it was good for more than two-day free shipping?

So, if you’re a Party of Five fan, and you happen upon one of my books, don’t be surprised if you discover that a character or two seems a little familiar—or at least their backstory does.

One thought on “A Study in Characters

  1. While I am looking forward to your new book, now I can look forward to the one after that. It is interesting to see how you work on character development. Thank you

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