Saturday, July 4, 2015

Novel Progress and Character Differences

Yes, I know. It's been a while. But I do have some progress on the book to report. I finally have it printed out - all drafts, by the way - and it is now cobbled together with all of the final scenes. Won't make much sense in the reading of it right now but at least now I can do some serious editing and revising.

Not sure why I didn't just do this before now. I've been trying to do the same thing on Scrivener only to get frustrated and lose motivation. Don't get me wrong. I still love my Scrivener. It's just that having something tangible to rearrange seems to make the process that much more proficient. 

And talk about killing your darlings! I have eliminated a huge chunk of the first draft in favor of something that I think will work so much better. Not saying it was easy. In fact, I tried to find a way of keeping the chunk in there but it just wasn't going to work. For one thing, a character that was introduced in that chunk now appears much earlier. The scenes just wouldn't make any kind of sense at all.

There is still a ton of work to do, though. My writing group wants something out of me by next Friday, even if it not as linear as I would like it to be. 

In the midst of all this revision work, I have made the decision to pick up a part time job. Nothing too involved but the extra cash will come in handy and it'll get me out of the house. As many of you know, being a full-time writer also means being isolated for the entirety of your workday. It'll be nice to be out of the house, mingling with humanity for a few hours a week. The job I'm currently waiting to hear about will involve a lot of mingling with humanity, which I am definitely looking forward to.

There is also one other advantage to this part time job mingling with humanity. For me as a writer, at least. People watching. Just think of all the different personalities I will encounter during a single shift. Lots of fodder for character creation there. 

Speaking of character creation. Where do you get your inspiration from?

When I think back on the characters I have created, I don't really see any one source that inspired me. My characters evolve with various traits from several sources - mostly made up on the fly. I do think small parts of me end up in each one. 

What surprises me when I do look at the characters I've created, they aren't the same one recreated over and over again. I know the kinds of characters I like to read about and so those are the types I also like to write about. And yet they come off different somehow. 

Take the hero in my current work for example. When compared to one from an earlier novel, the differences are pretty obvious.

For one thing, he's shorter by a few inches, leaner and less bulky but no less strong and determined. He's compassionate and despite what he sees as her betrayal, is still very much in love with his heroine. However, once crossed, it's very hard to earn back his trust. Not that he gives that trust easily to begin with. He's been bitten one too many times by people he should have been able to trust. Now, he gives new people a wide berth until he sees their true colors. His circle of friends is quite small, but he relaxes best in their company. He lives with the guilt of a major past transgression but also understands his involvement was manipulated by someone else. He plans to make that person pay but not until he can be sure of success.

On the other hand, a previous hero is a wanted outlaw and must do whatever it takes to keep from becoming yet another victim of a corrupt government. So many horrific events have been linked to his name that sometimes it's easy for him to believe his own hype. Well, that and a few instances in his past that he knows he's responsible for. He takes the cares of the universe on his own shoulders and while they are broad enough, he refuses to believe he's not the reason behind all of it. In reality, he might actually be right about that. Still, while he may seem cold and calculating on the surface, it's only to protect the more vulnerable part of his personality. He's experienced losses that have left him deeply scarred. People he has loved have been hurt and killed. He resists attachment because he believes anyone he cares about will only come to harm because of him.

The ladies are just as different. 

My current heroine, while capable of defending herself, prefers negotiation over physical conflict. Not that she won't fight back if threatened. A petite blue-eyed blond, she can be quite the surprise when cornered. She's strong in her own way but can be overpowered, and often is simply because she finds it hard to believe someone she loves is capable of doing her harm. Until he actually does. She always wants to believe the best of people, even those who have betrayed her. She's not gullible, though. Once she understands someone isn't who they appear to be, she stands wary of them, ready to launch into action when the opportunity strikes.

The earlier heroine, on the other hand, is no delicate flower by any means. This statuesque redhead will toss you over her shoulder without batting an eye if you insist upon it. She is a trained, tenth level agent, after all, with something to prove to the boys who aren't used to females in the ranks. She's also not afraid to stand up to the hero despite his tough, dangerous exterior. The fact that he's a head taller and quite a bit broader than she doesn't intimidate her in the least. But she's also fiercely loyal. Once you've earned her trust and friendship, she will go down defending you to the last breath. 

Both sets of hero and heroine have similarities but many more differences. And they all came out of the same place. The fact that they were created on the fly adds to my surprise at how different they all are. 

Even the relationships between each pair is different. 

While the current pair allow their differences to keep them apart, the previous pair are always ready to put their differences aside for a few hours and....well...let's just say nothing else would get done if I didn't send them to their separate corners. I have to do that more often than I would like since they seem to have forgotten that when they were originally created, they couldn't stand each other. How times have changed.

I've studied character archetypes in the past and believe there are an infinite number of possibilities. Just like in real life. That's what makes writing so interesting for me with the added bonus of being able to control what happens to the characters I create. Well, to a point. Sometimes (most times) my characters decide they want to follow a certain rabbit trail and, as much as I hate to admit this, sometimes (most times) that rabbit trail turns out to be a good one. 

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