Having settled on my lead character, a rancher moving to Los Angeles, I had to flesh him out. First off, why was he leaving the ranch? People often have the desire for change in their life, but lack the courage to step out into the unknown. Sometimes it takes a traumatic event; a divorce, loss of a job, a death of a loved one, to propel them into action. I saw my lead character as an old-fashion, blue-collar guy with a unique creative bend; someone who was slightly out of step with his peers. He probably would have remained where he was if not for... that's giving to much away.
So, I know why he leaves, but what is his quirk? What makes him different? I've always enjoyed macho characters that display a softer more creative side. I like boxers who paint, assassins that sing. When I considered this question, along with larger story ideas, I decided to make him a photographer. Not a professional, but just someone with a passion. He's not moving to LA to "make it," but he brings that expressive part of himself on the journey.
The final layer to my main character was his ethnicity. We'd all like to believe that color doesn't matter, but it does. In order to stay true to the reality of my setting, my choices were Caucasian or Hispanic. As I pondered various story lines that would be affected by this choice, I was drawn to the many layers of the Hispanic ranchero. Immigration was an obvious issue, but more complex was the relationship between Mexican-Americans and African-Americans; especially in LA. Making the lead Hispanic offered more drama than a white character. I made my decision, Jesse Torres was born.