Because I've dedicated this blog to my characters, I would like to introduce someone new.
Meet Sierra. She's a 20-something graduate student in astronomy. Her focus is variable stars, and she TAs an observational astronomy class. She's a Scorpio.
That last bit is important because she's also an astrologer.
I created Sierra for my "contemporary adult realistic fiction" class. At first, I felt out of my element to the extreme, since I don't read much in that genre, let alone write it. I often joke that my real-world experience is limited to skiing, knitting, and astronomy.
That could make an interesting story.
That's when Sierra showed up. She perched at my writing desk, insisting that astronomy and astrology can coincide. She's writing her thesis on it. Now I don't believe in astrology, but this sounded interesting enough that I went for it.
This led to an interesting case of character development: before I wrote Sierra, I got online and found an astrological natal chart. (Translation: I pulled up an online astrolabe and found the way the heavens aligned on what I decided would be Sierra's birthday.) Using some of Alan Leo's old texts, I interpreted the natal chart.
And thus Sierra's character was truly born.
Part of me feels like I took the easy way out. Once I'd figured out her chart, I knew exactly who I was working with. I could introduce her to the other characters and predict how they would interact. I knew the story's attempts to reconcile faith with knowledge would challenge her beliefs in a way that would function thematically. And all of this happened without much nagging or pleading on my part.
But, hey, I can't complain if a fully-fleshed-out character volunteers to participate in a class assignment!