Building the Story of Scrabbled Secrets

Before I begin a novel, I take time to write a page or two about each character.

Whenever I have the honor to speak about my books, someone in the audience always asks the question: “How do you get your ideas for characters?”

My response is always, “I’m a people watcher. I love people. Everywhere I go – whether it’s shopping at the grocery store, the mall, an antique alley, sitting in a restaurant, or traveling nationally or internationally – I see interesting characters.” I carry a small notebook in my purse, and when I see a person’s uniqueness, I will jot it down. I will combine one small quality of one person with another quality from another person to create my character.

Some of my friends are convinced they are in my books. I repeatedly assure them that they are not, but I’m glad they are able to identify with a particular character.

In my opinion, the author should develop a character’s attributes and personality traits to get a reaction from the reader. I always ask myself this question: “Do I want the reader to like or to dislike this person?” Then, I create the character accordingly, always with the thought in mind that in real life, there is no one hundred percent good or bad person. All are flawed. For example, in Scrabbled Secrets the kidnapper of Simon Townsend’s mother was ordered to kill her. He disobeyed the order. Though he admitted to committing more than one murder, he refused to kill an innocent woman especially one who shows him kindness.

Before I begin a novel, I take time to write a page or two about each character I plan to include in my story (the one I have in my head before I type that first word).  Since I write cozy mysteries, this helps me remember important facts about a character. I did not do this when I wrote my first novel. So, when I began writing a sequel, I had to go back and scan the first novel to make sure a particular character’s eyes and hair did not change from book-to-book. While it takes time to prepare the character worksheet, it ultimately saves time in the long run.

I’ve included my Character Worksheet on Lillian Prestridge, the heroine in all of the novels in The Games We Play series. Writing down the character’s goals and challenges within the character description also helps me avoid wandering up and down rabbit trails which do not add to the overall plot.

Linda Pirtle

Lillian Prestridge: 

Physical Characteristics:  Long, gray hair. Usually worn up or pulled back at nape.

Height:  5’8”

Weight: normal weight 135; currently ten pounds lighter

Color of her eyes: dependent upon the color of her attire.

Profession: Retired English teacher/school administrator; female sleuth

Family:  Widowed –  husband Bill was assassinated in Santa Fe; still grieving.

Biological Son: Jake, County Sheriff

Adopted Son: Grant Perryman, FBI Agent who works with Grant on some of his assignments.


Preferences:  Attire:  white or beige tunic tops, jeans or sweat pants, pink cardigan. With the exception of two business suits (one for funerals and one for weddings), she dresses casually.

Loves turquoise jewelry (prefers Navajo) and colorful scarves.

Hobbies: Reads all kinds of literature, works Sudoku, solves puzzles, plays Mah Jongg, dominoes, and Scrabble and other kinds of word games such as crossword puzzles and word searches.


Personality:  Independent, nosey (Miss Curiosity nickname), bossy, protective of her

loved ones (helicopter mom), adopts strays – both human and dogs –

Examples:  Grant whose parents died in an accident. She raised him.

Eli, a Standard White Poodle whose owner was murdered.

Sammie Nightingale, a Navajo woman, parents/grandparents died.

Religious. Begins each day with a scripture and prayer.


Self-discovery from Tarot Terrors:  She’s always loved two men.


Goals for Scrabbled Secrets: Overall goal = Justice

  1. Find the man who ordered the assassination of her husband Bill: Professor Tomas.

Challenge:  He flew away with Sophia in her private airplane. Where did they go?

Simon (her first love) has retired. How can she solicit his help? He has connections with the FBI and CIA.

Her RV was destroyed in Pagosa Springs. How will she travel?

Both sons worry about her. How can she keep her plans secret from them?

  1. Help Sammie find Sophia who has disappeared.


Challenge:  Why did Sophia hook up with the Professor?

Was she merely trying to protect Sammie and Lillian as well as Sammie’s

uncle Jack Darling O’Toole?


Did she really follow the money as she claimed?

If they find Sophia, can Lillian trust her again?

  1. Get into and out of Canada without drawing attention to herself, Sammie, or Sophia.

Challenge: Can they trust the doctor’s (Dr. Edouard Bergeron) story about how Sophia was found after the airplane crash?

  1. Communication:

Challenge: Get Sophia’s collaboration – difficult – Sophia can’t speak/throat injured.

  1. Avoid the men who want to kill Sophia.


Challenge: Who are they and why are they after the medium? How do they know her whereabouts?

Building the characters in the story provides me with the critical information I need to write the story.

Please click HERE to find Scrabbled Secrets on Amazon.

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