Tuesday, 7 June 2016
Inside The Author: My Characters
Everybody has their own methods for creating characters. Everybody who writes a series or a trilogy, or even a standalone piece of work have their own favourite characters and I am no different. However, when you first begin writing, it's hard to say goodbye to characters that you'll probably never see again. I remember when I’d just finished writing BLACKOUT, I was so desperate to write about Tally and Lisa again. I wanted to take them on adventures and go new places with them, but my best friend, B, told me that it just wasn't possible and she was right. Tally had told her story and I had to say goodbye to her, however hard that was.
Whilst the majority of my main characters are young adults, usually teenage girls, I do write about their parents and the other people in their lives. I don't know who coined the phrase "writers create from nothing and breathe life into words" but I feel that it’s a good description of what I do. I take a blank cut out of a person and I add life to it, by giving them hair and facial features, adding clothes and words. Once I've done that, I take them on an adventure and I bring the reader along for the ride. I enjoy choosing names, and personality traits, habits and accents and I know that’s reflected in my work. I take great care to make sure that every character I create is as unique as every person in the world.
However, that said, a lot of my characters do share something and that is that they all have a part of my life and self in them. Whether it’s their choice of clothing, or their accent, the way they speak or who they choose for their friends. I think it is inevitable that every character you create, whether they be a background player or the main part, has a part of the creator in them, no matter how hard you may try to hide it. In Angelina's case, her cynicism comes from me, though maybe not to the extreme that she takes it. Zack carries part of my belief that people in trouble are to be rescued and saved. I don't know if I would have ever done what he did, but in my own teen years, I know that I did some stuff that was equally stupid. I probably still do!
Other characters I have created also share parts of me; Lisa from BLACKOUT has the same medical condition that I have. Tara from the DYING THOUGHTS series has the same fondness for sarcasm as I did at that age. Hope from LYNNE & HOPE has the same wheelchair that I did when I writing that book. Some of them have taken GCSE classes that I chose or have aimed for A-levels that would have interested me had I taken them. I could go on, but I hope I’ve made my point. I would hazard a guess that other writers have similar stories to tell.
When writing a new book, my favourite part is meeting your characters for the first time. I believe, as I am sure many other writers do too, that while we breathe the life into them with our words, they take us on their own journeys. I can't tell you how many times I have been sure that the book would go one way, only to get to the middle of the chapters and realise that I am going to be using a different interpretation of the chapter heading than I initially thought. I know that when writing WAITING ON YOU, there were things that were not ever planned, but Zack took me that way and then in another part, Angelina led me down a different path. Once you give them life, they seem to take on their own forms. At least, that's my experience!
While I always knew the ending for WAITING ON YOU, there were many extra roads I went down at the insistence of Angelina and Zack. The same can be said for other books I have written. I know that in one of the books I’m working on right now, I have just connected two characters who initially were never connected. It was only when I started writing the chapter that I realised where it was going, and that’s one thing I love about both writing and the characters that I create. You never really know where you're going to go next. It's a case of coming along for the ride as if the words were appearing and you were the first ever reader of that particular story.
So yes, writers do create from nothing, and we do breathe life into our characters with our words, but believe me, they do some of their own living without any help from me!
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