Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guest Post - author Alison Bruce "The Evolution of a Character"

Happy Wednesday!

Today I have another guest blogger on visit. Alison Bruce is from Canada and she is an author of a novel Under A Texas Star which was published by ImajinBooks. You will find more information about Alison below the guest post where you will also find some information about Under A Texas Star.

I met Alice through Cheryl from ImajinBooks when I was looking for guest blogger. Alison was very quick with contacting me and I am very glad for this!

But now, ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Alison Bruce!

The Evolution of a Character

By Alison Bruce

“What came first, the chicken or the egg?”

That question always pops into my head when someone asks whether character or plot comes first. Whatever the answer - it’s misleading.

In evolution, the egg comes first - laid by something that isn’t quite a chicken. In my case, the egg is most often a character - laid by a something that isn’t quite a plot. I have an idea for an ending, or a beginning, or a situation that begs developing. Then I start thinking about who to throw into this idea. After some juggling and upstream swimming, the situation and the character mesh - or not. If they mesh, I have the beginning of a story and my central character - or one of them.

In Under A Texas Star, Jase Strachan was the first character to emerge. I had a fascination with the Texas Rangers and a mental picture of my ideal western hero. That hero was very intelligent, but not necessarily well-educated. Though easygoing in attitude, he’d be strong willed and commanding when he needed to be. Hardworking, physically tough and a sense of humour rounded out the character traits. As I write this I realize that these are traits I admired in my father too.

Making Jase a Texas Ranger dictated that a crime had to be central to the plot. Once I knew what that crime was going to be, I had a background for Marly Landers, my heroine.

The first thing I knew about Marly was that she was resilient and determined to the point of stubbornness. If she wasn’t, she’d never have made the journey I needed her to make. Her youth came because of the nature of her troubles. Since I didn’t want her to be stupid, she had to be young and a bit foolish. If she wasn’t, she wouldn’t have had the harebrained idea to run away from home and chase a con man across Texas.

In life, our personalities and basic character determine how we react to situations - when we are brave, when we are foolish. How we deal with one crisis shapes us and determines how we react to the next situation. With my characters, I start with a crisis. What in their lives brought them to where I’ve placed them? How will their past and the crisis shape their future actions?

Marly is running away from her stern Aunt Adele. Yet, Aunt Adele is there with her, every step of the journey, shaping how she deals with the challenges she faces. As a character, Aunt Adele didn’t emerge until she was needed, but she is solidly part of who Marly became.

Chicken and the egg. A character is born out of something that isn’t yet a plot. The plot is then shaped by the characters as they develop and vice versa. All going well, a good story hatches.

Book Excerpt from Under a Texas Star:

Chapter 1
Under a Texas Star
Trailing from one dusty town to another in pursuit of a criminal fugitive was a job for a bounty hunter with a good horse and a small arsenal. It was tough work for a slim boy of small build, few means and fewer possessions--tougher still when the boy wasn't a boy at all, but a girl.

It wasn't the walking. Marly was used to spending most of her day on her feet in the yard of the schoolhouse her aunt taught in, tending the kitchen garden, feeding the chickens, hanging the laundry or walking the mile to town for whatever errand Aunt Adele required.

It wasn't the weight of the oversized oilskin coat or the bedroll slung across her back. They were nothing to hefting a crate of books or a basket of surplus eggs and vegetables into town to trade for flour and sugar.

It was the solitude.

Once upon a time, Marly would have reveled in the opportunity to get away from her aunt's incessant homilies, the critical stares of her aunt's cronies and even the kinder yet oppressive expectations of her friends. Now she realized that the outside clamor would be preferable to her own self-critical reflections. The long walks as she travelled from one town to another, gave her too much time to dwell on the events that put her on this solitary trail.

"As ye sow, so shall ye reap," her Aunt Adele would say.

"No good turn goes unpunished," was more like it.

Alison Bruce, Under A Texas Star, Imajin Books, 2011

Under A Texas Star is available in paperback at and in eBook format at
and Smashwords.

More information about Alison:

Alison Bruce started writing stories at age twelve and hasn't stopped since.

Copywriter, editor and designer since 1992, Bruce also writes genre fiction. Her protagonists are marked by their strength of character, the ability to adapt (sooner or later) to new situations and to learn from adversity - traits the author shares, and hopes to pass on to her own children.

Thank you, Alison, for coming by my blog!
As for you my dear readers, I can tell you, that I already have Under A Texas Star and I am reading it. So should you, because it's good! Review will be posted soon!
Happy reading!


  1. Great news for my Canadian readers. Under A Texas Star is now available in paperback on