Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.

- Graycie Harmon

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Characters Have Minds of Their Own, an Example

Since I shared this on my Facebook page, I suppose I ought to share it here as well. I made my 3 000 words yesterday, and it was easy to do as the story had started to move into an exciting part. I finished with these words:

"Gaveng," he said. "If you leave now, you will never be permitted to return."
Gaveng turned back to face his father. His voice was soft when he spoke. "So be it."

It is Gaveng I want to talk about in particular. He is a fine example of what I mean when I say characters have minds of their own. Gaveng is actually the name of a person I know. He helped me out with a section of The Third Prince (book 1) and so, as is my custom, I named a character after him. The characters I name after people who have been, essentially Beta Readers (though for a work still in progress), are small characters. They're the literary equivalent of 'bit parts.' Most of them die.

It was planned that only one of my "Beta Readers" would be given a part that was significant. She encouraged me to write, loved my stories and made me feel like I could actually be a writer. So I turned M.K. into Ngyla Mpho, wife of Xavier (a character M.K. said she had a crush on. I don't blame her. Xavier would be a catch!). She was the only major player right from the off; and yes, she also dies.

The rest were supposed to be small appearances. David talks briefly to Julian before a battle, and then is killed in that same battle. Martin is already dead by the time we meet him. Ida, well, Ida is killed after spending a few months with Julian. They're all small-ish parts. They all die.

All except Gaveng... needy bugger.

Not only is Gaveng's story arc significantly grander than the others, but he lives. He is one of the few who actually survive the entire story of The Great Man.

I didn't plan this in any way shape or form. Gaveng was supposed to be introduced, liked, and then killed off. He had very different ideas.

Here's the thing, much like the rest of The Great Man, Gaveng took on a life of his own. When I'm writing and I'm 'in the zone,' as it were, and I simply write whatever flows, however it flows. There has been at least on instance where I've written all night, not knowing what the hell I've written, crashed and slept until midday, returned to the computer to read over what I'd written, and been completely surprised.

Gaveng went from being just some guy, to the leader of the Keshaly'i Underground (you'll have to wait for the books to be published for this reference). He started out as just some guy, and has become one of the three Great Heroes.

To be honest, I'm a little annoyed. I wish I could've planned this. Then I could take all the credit. But no, the credit goes to Gaveng. Bastard.

Rather appropriately, today's Forgotten English is:

Gall of Bitterness

The bitterest grief; extreme affliction. The ancients taught that grief and joy were subject to the gall. affection to the heart, knowledge to the kidneys, anger to the bile [one of the four humours of the body], and courage or timidity to the liver. The gall of bitterness, like the heart of hearts, means the bitter centre of bitterness, as the heart of hearts means the innermost recesses of the heart or affections.

- Ebenezer Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898


Trisha said...

It's really amazing how characters will direct YOU and not the other way around, isn't it? :)

S.M. Carrière said...

It's a constant source of wonder, amusement and frustration!