I’m working on my latest story and had a bit of a revelation this week; about my main character.
I’d done all the preparation I was supposed to do; you know, the character description. I'd worked out her family background, discovered her dream, her likes, dislikes, star sign, favourite colour and all that stuff. I knew what she looked like, what she ate for breakfast and when she clipped her toe nails, and more importantly I knew where she was (mentally and emotionally) at the beginning, middle and end of the plot. I knew exactly what she was going to do with her life over the next few months and how she was going to do it. In fact, I was so darn sure that I’d worked her out to perfection that I forgot to like her.
And so it hit me; the ugly truth - Alice Smith is dull; so dull, I don’t actually feel like writing about her anymore.
We all know how important good and likeable characters are to a story, but the revelation was that it’s not just the reader who needs them, it’s the writer. And without any passion for my character, it was getting kind of tedious writing about her. It’s like having one of those friends who is undoubtedly a really ‘nice’ person, but you end up making excuses as to why you can’t see them or why you have to cut the phone call short or would you believe it, “something has just come up and I’m going to have to cancel…”
Well I’m afraid that’s how I felt about poor old Alice. For all her niceness, and for all her great qualities and good intentions, she had to go.
We’ve parted company on quite good terms. We both know it wasn’t her fault and I said as much. “It’s not you, Alice. It’s me.” And I would like to keep in touch. But I’ve got my eye on someone else.
The new girl is brazen, passionate and outspoken. I don’t know her name yet or what she looks like, but I can hear her voice and I’m drawn to the page by her crazy language and off-beat observations. She shakes things up and gets things moving. She's active, proactive and reactive and almost certainly insane. She may get me into trouble and cause all sorts of problems before I reveal her to the world, but at this distance I am already falling in love. I've started to sneak out of bed in the morning, just to be alone with her, and when real life intrudes on our time together she is never far from my thoughts.
If, or should I say when, she makes it into the final first draft, I may have to tone her down a little for fear of offending sensitive readers, but for the duration of ‘the write’, at least I will have been entertained.
If you’ve got any thoughts about a kick-ass name for her, please feel free to suggest.