14 January 2011

Friends and Characters

This morning I had, not so much a blinding flash of inspiration, as more a dawning realisation.  I have some darlings I need to murder.  Nothing less than the final scenes of my current work in progress. 
From the early days of my first draft I had that final scene in my head.  I actually wrote it when I was about halfway through the first draft.  I was pleased with it, and it gave me the motivation that I could finish the novel.  It also fits with an early scene, giving that link back to the beginning that many authors talk about.
At the moment I’m working on making London more of a character, and doing that through Kate, one of my POV characters.  I chose Kate as she is new to London, exploring the city, and sees it differently than those who live there.
People are interesting.  You meet them at work, at a party, through a friend, bump into them (literally) in the street.  You smile, talk, share information, and whether you realise it or not, you begin to categorise them from things they say, the way they dress, where they work.
Characters arrive – before, after or with a conflict situation.  They make their introductions and you make your assumptions.  Later they’ll say or do something that stops you short.  You didn’t expect that.  They’re an alcoholic, workaholic, racist, have kids, six ex-husbands, a current husband and six lovers.  Whatever it is you have to do a rapid re-evaluation of your impression of this person.
As writers and readers we all know that characters need to change through the conflict.  Kate changes, but I realised that to show her character arc more clearly I had to get rid of some assumptions made during our getting to know each other phase. 
This morning I realised what had been niggling me for a while.  Kate doesn’t actually do what I thought she would at the end.
She surprised me as friends sometimes do.

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