If you’ve visited this blog for some time, you know I was for a while writing a novel in chunks here, between other postings. It was a contiguous storyline, rolled out more or less episodically (really, snippets of chapters since writing whole chapters as blog posts was too unwieldy). This was both an experiment (to see how well-received it might be, to roll out a novel as I was writing it from scratch) and a labor of love (as the first draft of what might turn out to be a novel I try to publish one day).
If you’re one of those people, you also know that with the crush of real life and the addition of more blogs to my life, a few of them devoted to fiction (erotica in some cases), that project stalled.
But it isn’t dead yet. The characters in that far-from-finished tale (the resulting novel of which would still only be the first in an epic series) continue to speak to me at times. In fact, sometimes they won’t fucking shut up, and it can get really annoying. Good thing for them that I love them.
Characters are important to me. Who they are, what they say and how the interact with each other and make decisions…well, it’s fascinating to me (whether in the “Cleansed By Fire” novel, or at my Tales of the Whethermen blog, or my erotica and fetish stories). You might, however, ask: “Why? You created them, so you know what they’re going to do.”
If only that were true. Much like living-and-breathing people, I can’t always predict their actions. Familiarity and experience with someone will give you a lot of clues and insight into what they will do, but they can still surprise you. So too do my characters. No matter how thoroughly I plot a story, in any genre or whatever medium, characters will surprise me and do things I didn’t plan on them doing.
Sometimes, things I didn’t want them to do, because it complicates my plans or changes the direction of my plot. Usually, though, I see the necessity in letting that happen, just as I acknowledge that unexpected decisions by friends, families, co-workers, etc. are not always bad ones. Usually, they are neutral or positive in the long run.
I hope my characters in my fiction continue to be complex (or perhaps I should hope they become so; some of you might argue the notion that they’re complex right now). I hope they continue to challenge me.
At the same time, I hope I don’t become lazy (assuming I’m not already).
You see, it’s easy to write in black-and-white. To have clear good and evil and to have defined winners and losers. For the people who do right to be rewarded and for those who do wrong to receive some kind of justice. But that’s not life, now is it? And I try to make sure my fiction feels enough like real life so that it not only rings true but also sucks you into my world, to give you as immersive an experience as you can get.
Yes, I love my villains and my heroes both. I love those who are neither. I love that sometimes a villain can do something noble and a hero do something awful. Even when I hate what people do and what happens to them, sometimes I have to accept them for who they are…even when they’re fictional. I have to accept life doesn’t always go my way, even when I’m the one creating the reality.
(This is one part of a kind of thematic dual-post. For the “other part,” click here and visit my Tales of the Whethermen blog)