Monday, May 16, 2011

My Characters Talk To Me...Sometimes

Characters.  They're the backbone of any story you write.  Whether it be flash, short, novella or novel. You have to have them.  The problem with characters is that sometimes you can't get them to shut up.

Take, for instance, Kaszet, one of the female leads in the novel I am currently working on.  When I originally conceived of this character, I thought she was a one off.  Just a passing character required only for a scene I know I would have to eventually write.  She didn't even have a name.  She meant nothing to me.

Except that my brain kept circling back around to her.  At the time I thought 'yeah, okay, I can give her a name.  Why not?'  What I didn't realize was that giving her a name would lead to her being the third main character in my book (and actually quite possibly my favorite).  She started speaking to me, and she just wouldn't shut up!  I know more about her background than any of my other characters!

Thankfully this all came to me when I was still in the planning stages of the novel, which meant that I wasn't having to go back and do a lot of rewrites.  And, on the plus side, it was a character that I knew I could write well, because if I did something wrong, she was never going to let me forget it (which is strange, as she really isn't all that talkative in the book...)

Then there are characters like Kaidyn.  Kaidyn showed up in my plot without my realizing he was going to be there.  Like Kaszet he was unplanned and was unnamed.  Just a passing character.  It was when he named himself that I realized I was in trouble.

Problem is, Kaidyn isn't nearly as chatty as Kaszet.  In fact, I know only his name and who his father is.  That's it.  He's not giving anything else up.  Not his age.  Not his goals.  And certainly not his role in the story.  It's annoying.  I've been sitting writing possible scenarios for him for hours in my notebook, and nothing feels right.

He makes me miss characters like Kaszet.

I won't give up on him, though.  Despite his stubborn muteness, I know that he's going to be important.  I just have to dig a little deeper.  Question him a little harder.  Perhaps break a few fingers.  But eventually I will figure out why he jumped into my story.

Characters.  Can't live with 'em, can't write a book without 'em.  Go figure.

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