Reimagining Fictional Characters as if You’re Just Meeting them

Of all the elements of good stories, I believe the most important, especially with novels, is character development. Through fiction we get to know people better than we’ll ever know anyone else… including ourselves. We get to peek inside their minds, to see past the deception and discover things they never admit. The greatest impact comes when what we discover differs from the way we first see them.

Here are some characters from my latest novel, Pronounced Ponce: The Midtown Murders. Just for fun, pretend that you’re meeting them, for the first time, in a social situation, sixteen complete strangers, as different from each other as you and I. Some of them are exactly what you see. But among them are a vigilante, a fraudster and not one but three stone killers. See if you can pick them out.

Everything they say is truthful, but not the whole truth. For that you’ll need to read Pronounced Ponce.

I’m Allison. I’m currently transitioning into a new and, so far, stressful career from which I hope to retire soon. I work out my frustrations with strenuous exercise and volunteering at my church. I also spend a lot of time at my local public library. I don’t deal well with duplicitous or needy people.



My name is Denise. I’m newly single and am a very successful insurance professional. My passions include running and bodybuilding. I prefer friends who always push me to be my best. My dream is to retire and travel to exotic places. You’ll find I’m a very good listener.



Hi, I’m Beth, and all my life I’ve wanted to be a cop, like my dad. I was a senior in college, working on my criminology degree, when he died in the line of duty. The day after his funeral I dropped out of Georgia State and joined the Atlanta Police Department. My mom hasn’t spoken to me since.


My name is Marie. I’m a criminal defense attorney, recently separated from a sixteen-year marriage and new to Atlanta. I have two sons, William, fifteen, and Henry, thirteen. When I’m not worried about keeping my dad out of trouble, I like take in movies and work on community service projects. At the moment, we’re living with my dad while shopping for a home in the Smyrna-Vinings area.



My name is Sumatra. You may have seen me on local TV. As a reporter I lead a hectic life, with calls to news scenes at all hours of the day. On my off time I like to curl up beside a fire with a glass of Merlot and a gentle companion. You’ll find I’m a very empathetic person with a wide variety of interests. I’m looking for someone whose lifestyle (and schedule) fit mine.



I’m Eleanor. As an independent special victims’ consultant, I work long hours and am committed to what I do. I like reading and touring art galleries and am a warm and giving person. My mom moved in with me recently. She’s still independent, though. I like to get out of the house whenever I can.


My name is Helen. I moved to Georgia many years ago when my husband passed away so I could be closer to my daughter. When she got married and moved to Gwinnett County I took over her house in Midtown. My hobbies are gardening and painting. I like sitting on my porch at the end of a long day, sipping tea and enjoying a peaceful afternoon.



My name’s Alicia. I’m a Virgo. I get along well with most people, especially Taurus, Cancer, Scorpio and Capricorn. I do tarot readings and seances. You should come over sometime. What’s your sign?



My name is Leslie. I’m a cheerleader, and I’m active in my church youth group. I’m a consistent honor roll student and like movies and sports. I also like spending time with my friends at the mall.



My name is Madison. I also like to hang out at the mall with my friends and spend time with my grandma, especially when my parents are driving me crazy. I like older guys, especially football players. The ones in my grade are all dorks.



Hi. I’m Don. I’m a homicide detective with the Atlanta Police Department and am recently divorced. I like to hit the batting cage near my apartment in Smyrna when I’m not enjoying a few beers with friends and watching sports. Most of all, I like to party.



My name is Oscar. I’m a retired social worker and real estate agent. I live in Midtown Atlanta in a lovely classic bungalow with my pug Waldo. I chose Midtown because of its scenic charm and fascinating, often eccentric, people. Mostly I enjoy long walks around the neighborhood, stopping off at Piedmont Park on nice evenings and visiting with friends.


My name is Ambrose and I recently began writing for Biz Atlanta, an emerging publication dedicated to accurate reporting of topics timely to entrepreneurs. Journalism has been my lifelong passion. I’ve put away a substantial retirement portfolio and plan to travel the world.


I’m Shelby. I’m an ex-marine and a software developer. My wife passed away a couple of years ago, and now I live alone in an upstairs apartment in Midtown. I’m afraid I don’t get out much. When I get home at the end of the day, I like to go for a run, hit the weights, that sort of thing.


Hi. I’m Tom. I’m widowed. I’m a freelance writer and investigative journalist. I live alone with my dog, Bogie. I love jazz, blues and classic rock. My grandchildren are the center of my life. I dream of someday renting an RV, traveling the country and writing about the people I meet. 



My name is John. Several years ago, when my wife passed, I left the Chicago Police Department and joined the priesthood, from which I recently retired. I like to read, do charitable work, spend time with friends, and enjoy a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks in the morning.


Now, let’s take another look. Which of these people are lying, or not telling the whole truth? How convincing are they?

Which one is a hired assassin, a serial killer, a sociopathic career criminal? Who among these people will help the Atlanta Police apprehend the Midtown Murderer?

As fiction writers we have a special, almost God-like ability to create real people. I call them “real,” because they start out that way for me, and I hope I’ve made them real to my readers.