Fiction Writing and Other Oddities

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kat Duncan on Creating Unique Characters

Please welcome Kat Duncan for the 4th and final blog in The Wild Rose Press blog tour! Kat is going to talk about creating unique characters which is something she's terrific at doing!

Developing Unique Characters

A reviewer of my romantic suspense, Fifty-eight Faces, recently commented that the villain, Rolf Bauer, sounded more like Snidely Whiplash than a real human being. I was amazed that I'd created such an impression on a reader. Granted, it was not exactly the impression I was going for, but it's a strong connection for a reader to make and that has to count for something.

I remember watching the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show and enjoying the escapades of Dudley Do-right and his arch-enemy, Snidely. Are these unique characters? Hardly. In fact, they are considered stereotypical. But then, I think all characters start from a stereotype. It's what you do with the stereotype that makes a character memorable and unique. Since (hopefully) few of us are personally acquainted with real villains, a writer has to use a heavier hand when it comes to stereotyping villains.

What's really fun for me as a writer is creating secondary characters. I like to play around and make them at least as vivid as main characters, even if they only make a cameo appearance. One of my favorite secondaries is Jimbo Wilson. I plan for Jimbo to be a recurring character. You can meet him for the first time today as he leaps from the pages of my romantic suspense, Six Days to Midnight:


The dissonant squawk of a two-way radio reached the patio. Janet stared as a hulk of a man ambled up to them in a slow waddling shuffle. He was dressed in greasy gray coveralls, unzipped to his navel, showing his blubberous pink torso. Flaming red hair exploded from his head. A matching five day stubble spread across his face.

"Brandt, my man!" he said in affectionate California surfer twang.

Brandt stood, and they clasped one hand, delivering identical pats on the back with the other.

"Jimbo, good to see you, man."

"Dude, I heard you got a problem with your bird."

"Yeah, an issue in the starboard fuel tank."

"Hey no problem, bro." Jimbo turned to Janet with a broad grin. "Say, who's the chick?" The man awkwardly bowed to take Janet's hand. "Hellooo. I'm Jimbo Wilson, aircraft mechanic. And whooo are yooou?" he intoned in his most romantic voice. He bent to kiss her hand.

"Ah, Jimbo. She's with me," Brandt said, rescuing Janet from his amorous advance.

"Oh, yeah. Gotcha, man." He winked and clicked his tongue at Brandt. "Nice catch."


"Well, let me take a look at your bird." He dropped a walkie-talkie on the table, then ambled off to examine the jet. Janet watched as a brand new Mercedes panel van drove out onto the runway. With zero sense of urgency or alarm, Jimbo pulled out some equipment and started working under the right wing.

"Who is that guy?"

"James Bradley Osgood Wilson, III, best aircraft mechanic in this part of Africa. Black sheep of a very blue blooded Connecticut family. Thrown out of the American Air Force. He does great work, especially if you need discretion. He has a long clientele list."

"Yo, bro," the walkie-talkie squawked. "I got the video on it. You want it out quick, or you want it out safe?"

"How long for safe?"

"Two days."

"Quick works for me."

"Gotcha, man." Jimbo walked back to the van, gathered up some more equipment then returned to the jet.

From her distance, Janet watched in detached fascination as the improbable man twisted and turned under the wing, manipulating some mysterious device in hopes of snagging the bomb.

"Got it," Jimbo said a few minutes later. "Hey, and I didn't destroy your bird." He held up an object in one hand for them to see.

"What is it?"

"I.E.D. A terrorist bomb."

"Al Qaeda?" Brandt asked.

"I don't think so. Too sophisticated. Not their style. This is professionally engineered. Probably in Europe."

Janet watched as Jimbo casually turned the bomb over several times. Even from this distance Janet could almost see his eyes gleam in fascination at the exquisite prize in his hand.

"Yep. Definitely European. You have some very serious people mad at you, bro."

"Not me. The girl."

I just received a fantastic review from Coffee Time Romance for Six Days to Midnight. "Wow! Six Days to Midnight is loaded with action, suspense, and romance right down to the last sentence. Twists and turns abound, many much unexpected. A great cast of characters tell a story that is pulled right from today’s headlines, which is scary but also makes for great reading material. Kudos to Ms. Duncan for offering readers a great read!"

You can read the full review at:

Now's your chance to read it for only 99 cents:

Thank you, Kat, for joining us today!


rbooth43 said...

Kat Duncan's $ix Days To Midnight, by the excerpt, sounds like an amazing, suspenseful read. I fantasize about the Black Sheep of the family, as I married one. He was my soulmate for 36 years before his death ten years ago on February 22, 2001.

Linda Kage said...

I adore reading Suzanne Enoch books because even though lots of them are not connected together she always has Francis Henning in every book. And you can almost spot him before he's named just by his desciption or dialogue. Love those cameo characters!!

Christine Ashworth said...

Kat, this sounds like a great read! Congrats!

Kat Duncan said...

I'm glad you like the sound of Six Days to Midnight, rbooth43. It is full of suspense and black sheep. So sorry for the loss of your soulmate. He must have been pretty wonderful for you to have been together 36 years. That kind of connection makes me go aaahhhh....! :)

Kat Duncan said...

Thanks, Linda. I plan for Jimbo to be a recurring character in the series of books and short stories I have planned. Once you get to know him, you could spot him a mile away! :)

Kat Duncan said...

Thanks, Christine! I'm so glad you like the sound of it! :)

Caroline Clemmons said...

Loved the excerpt, Kat. Continued success!

Kat Duncan said...

I'm glad you liked my quirky character, Caroline. They are so fun to create...!

Lilly Gayle said...

Congrats on the great review of Six Days to Midnight. I love the title! And Jimbo is def a quirky character. lol!

Kat Duncan said...

Thanks Lilly! Jimbo is one of my favorites. He was so fun to create...kind of a combination of guys I know (but would never date, mind you...!) :)