As I begin the adventure of writing a novel, the true meaning of a character from the author’s point of view has come to my attention.
Never before have I gotten this far into a novel, but I guess that is not saying much. My last attempts always ended with me, staring at the middle of a paragraph, with no idea where to go. A few minutes pass and I am on Gmail, clearing out Spam as if it is the most important thing; saving the world, one “Male Enhancement For you!” email at a time.
The characters in my novel are now real to me, as real as a relative who lives far away, who I know intimately, but never see. They occupy my thoughts and find myself imagining what they would do if I put them in certain situations. Their past is often in flux as I lock down events therein that make sense, and alter events that may steer them in the wrong direction.
I find myself… caring about them. The relationship I have developed is unusual. They are the conjuring of my imagination, yet it is vitally important to me that I portray them exactly as they are and not betray the nuances that make them tick. I want to protect them, the same way I would protect my own virtues if an invisible hand forced me in one direction or another.
It is this new understanding of the character creation process that has been the most rewarding in the journey to finish a novel. It is a weird sensation to get defensive when an unbiased reader critiques my characters. But I realize it is by no flaw in them that they were misunderstood or unsympathetic. The job falls upon me, their only real friend, to help them make new friends.
(ironically, I write this post to imaginary friends in the hopes to make real friends……………)