When Characters Take Over
I love reading books with characters I can fall in love with – and of course that also means I write characters I love and hope my readers will love too.
The trouble is, sometimes the characters can become just a little too ‘real’and take you, the writer, to places you’d never envisaged going. For instance, Jess, the main character in Starquest, my first novel in the Destiny Trilogy, started out as the heroine of a short story, but I’d become fond of her and she kept nagging me, saying ‘there’s a lot more to it than that, you know’.
I had to admit I didn’t really want to say goodbye to her, so the short story became a novel. She also argued with me about the ending of the book and eventually I had to agree that she was right. I change the original ending to the one that ultimately was the one published. Yes, characters can work their way into your heart, Kerry Marchant, an important character in Starquest was one of them – but more about him later!
It’s not just characters
that can take on a personality of their own, either. Settings can also be a very important, indeed essential part of a story. After all, it’s where the characters experience their adventures, fears and tribulations, and fall in love. Whether the setting be a small town, city or wide open spaces on Earth, or, as in my stories, a planet, far, far away, you need to be able to make them real for the reader, and to know the terrain, history and customs of your setting. You may only need to share a little of all this with the reader, but in order to make it come across as ‘real’ you need to know it very well yourself – and in doing so it can become like another character. This happened to me with the planet Niflheim, also featured in Starquest. I became intrigued by the planet’s history and terrain, and set Children Of The Mist, my second book in the trilogy there. (Not that I knew it would become a trilogy at the time!) What had been originally a convenient location for a race of telepaths, turned out to have far more dramatic origins and history than I had originally envisaged.
Back to Kerry Marchant.
I have to admit to having a real soft spot for Kerry. I always felt he’d been dealt the short straw in Starquest and so did he, because he kept on at me to write his story – and this time to let him have his own h.e.a. He can be very insistent. How could I refuse? And so I wrote Beloved Enemy, the third in the trilogy, and in some ways may favourite of the three.
So be warned – your characters need to be
real to you in order for the reader to relate to them – but if they become too real you might find they make you work harder than you’d bargained for – and be prepared for them to be obstinate and refuse to conform the plans you had so painstakingly laid out for them!
Hywela’s Best Tips:
- I find it is useful to keep a file on my hardrive where I paste a copy of paragraphs, chapters, or just phrases which I cut out from the original story in the editing process. You never know when you might find another use for them in another story, sometimes they can even spark off something completely new. Nothing is ever truly wasted.
- This isn’t actually a writing tip but something I’ve learnt when promoting – It’s very tempting to use your lovely new book cover for your social media profile image, but much better to us a good head and shoulders photo. Readers like to feel they have a connection with the author as a person, rather than a cover image
Beloved Enemy is the third book in the Destiny Trilogy (No relation to a similar titles series by Casi J ) and was shortlisted for the RoNA 2017 awards and is a RONE 2017 finalist (Each book can be read as a ‘stand alone novel’ but features some of the same characters.)
Cat Kincaid is obsessed with killing the man she believes is responsible for the torture and death of her sister, but when she eventually catches up with him, survival becomes a greater priority than revenge.
Kerry Marchant, haunted by memories, regret and self-blame, shields himself from the pain of the past by committing himself totally to the starship, Destiny, of which he is part owner. However, the beautiful, red haired woman who reminds him of his lost love, and who he suspects is working for a corrupt regime, represents a possible threat not only to the ship, but to his heart.
Marooned on an inhospitable planet, they need to work together to stay alive, fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?
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