Skip to main content

NaNoWriMo Day 16 - Characters - Part Three - Nature/Nurture

Saturday 16th November - Characters - Part Three - Nature/Nurture

In some way, all my creative writing reflects my fascination with the nature or nurture debate. As one of six children, I've seen how people can have the same upbringing, the same love, the same nurturing and the same opportunities, and yet turn out to be very different people with very different interests and skillsets. In The Backwater, I enjoyed exploring the similarities between Rebecca and the father she's only meeting when she’s twelve years old. Dance With Me – the book which is coming out next year – is about someone who's going around developing new relationships rather than being with the ones nature has provided her with.

Image result for who am i clipart

I think when you set up a character, you do have to think about where they come from. Obviously, you have to think biologically in something like eye colour but, for the most part, the character you create is as unique as you are.
Still, you can't have someone who has nothing to do with their biological heritage and is just some kind of freak of nature. Everyone comes from somewhere and referring to their families can make a character appear more three-dimensional, because you're bringing in something related to their past. They certainly don’t have to be similarities – think about someone saying “oh, you're nothing like your mum”. It automatically tells you something about both mother and child: teaching the reader about people in one go; two for the price of one; two birds with one stone, etc…
On the other hand, one of the things that makes nurture so interesting is that the people who nurture us during our formative years all usually people we share genes with. But then there are other people who come into our lives, and they’re not necessarily the people you’d expect them to be. And nurture isn't just about people who look after you – it will have a lot to do with them, but it may also be about people whose fleeting acquaintance has a big impact on your life. Nurture could be seen as “experiences”: in terms of creating a character, it’s a case of “nature versus experience” rather than “nature versus nurture”.
Think of nature as being a skeleton. If you don't have it then you can't have a body (a human body, anyway) but you also need all the organs, and the sinew, and the tissue that make a person fully alive. Everyone comes as a package of nature and nurture, but the real spark comes when they go off-piste completely: that is what makes a character worth writing and reading about.


Popular posts from this blog

GUEST POST - "Hallo teachers! Would you like to write a book?" by Jessica Norrie

  The Magic Carpet  is available at I'm absolutely thrilled to share this gem of a blog by Jessica Norrie on the Crowvus Book Blog. It's personally relatable for me, too, as I'm teacher who also writes children's fiction. I just love all the comments made in this blog - they are so true! It's a delight to meet another author/teacher/soprano! Check out the links to Jessica Norrie's books at the end of the blog too! Hallo teachers! Would you like to write a book? Primary and English teachers spend their days with books. It’s not surprising many dream of writing their own. Some make the big time - think Philip Pullman, Eoin Colfer, Michael Morpurgo. Teachers start with several professional advantages: 1) All child and adult human life enters the classroom. Teachers overhear conversations, respond to different personalities, encounter heartrending or enviable household  circumstances. They see family and cultural likenesses and cont

#IndieApril Craggy Blog: On the Hoof!

When people say they’re doing something “on the hoof”, it generally implies they’re making it up as they go along. When it came to writing my first book, I did so on the hoof in more ways than one. The photos that feature in Craggy the Coo Wants a Place to Call Home  were snapped all over Scotland, from the top of mountains to the surface of Loch Ness. But the words that accompany the pictures were largely concocted near my hometown of Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway. I’m relatively notorious in these parts for embarking on epic walks of 20-30 miles around the surrounding hills. And while most people would carry their phone to chart their route or maybe listen to music, I used mine to put words to my pictures. Having all the photos of Craggy’s travels on my iPhone meant I could weave a clear narrative together based on where he happened to be, and what could be seen in each image. So I would set off on a long walk armed with all I needed to create the verses and his direction of trav

#IndieApril Craggy Blog: My Inspiration

When I’m asked who my favourite author is, I also tend to consider who my favourite writers have been at various stages of my life. When I was very young, Roald Dahl could not be beaten. Like many children, I found his sense of mischief combined with superlative storytelling and Quentin Blake’s glorious illustrations irresistible. In my angsty teenage years, I must have re-read JD Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye  about 20 times, dreaming of leaving boarding school and running off to the States with just a rucksack on my back (which I actually did for a year when I was 17. I wasn’t quite as rebellious as Holden Caulfield though. It was all above board.) But the writer who has stood the test of time with me most, and was taken from us far too soon, is Iain Banks. I love the twisty intrigue of Complicity , in which my hometown of Langholm has an early cameo. I adore the assault on the hypocrisies of organised religion that lie at the heart of Whit . In my teens, I was traumatised in a can’t