Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Author, the character, and telling their story. Plus, a snippet of my SNI

Hello everyone.

It is often said the author should remain separate from the character, not just in narrative but in personality.

Sage advice, but in my view authors cannot always be separate. The characters come from the author, and often naturally they will share some traits with the character.

Off the top of my head I can draw some lines between most of my characters and myself. Not huge ones, because they are not me and I don't want them to be me, but there are similarites. Not all of them nice.

Unfortunately, this has no bearing over how easy it is to tell their story. Mathew has to be the most impossible character to get anything out of.

Mathew is the calm, honest, loyal thinker. Not much affects him and when it does he goes into emotional denial. His voice comes out strongest when his shell is cracked. This is fine during the middle and end of the novel, but writing his first few chapters and making him interesting is excruciating.

Then there is the complete opposite: Thera. She's always trying to help people, and she wants someone to listen to her secrets. This is fantastic, it makes her so easy to write.

My question for today is: What are your characters like to write?

I'll leave you with an extract from my shiny new idea. This book will be a lot shorter than Little Puppets, which is being put aside for a month or so for both a break and a savaging by my beta reader. In that time I hope to blast out at least most of a new WIP with the working title Julie, a very dark YA Urban Fantasy. And here she is, the first 725 words of her story:

I walked through the sliding glass doors of the Royal New Zealand Bank and took off my shades, putting them in my coat pocket. I casually glanced around, studying the joint.

Not much was happening. Typical fucking bank. Gigantic hall with marble overload, ten bank tellers, and about three customers and a dog.

Well fourteen customers actually, but I never exaggerate.

They were all pretty average. Accountants, trust fund brats, lawyers. But if someone here was interested, they would make sure they were average. Sitting on a bench reading the paper was secret agent suicide thanks to Hollywood.

I strode to a teller, my heels clipping on the floor. A few people glanced at my suitcase. Why the client needed the metal on the outside of the suitcase beat me. But that’s the New Zealand Secret Services for you. Logic is not our strong point.

The teller smiled. Yeah whatever, he was so pleased to see me my ass. He probably wanted nothing more than to go home and watch porn.

Me, cynical? Never.

I put on my young professional act. I reached into my pocket and gave him some I.D. I’m Bella Nichols apparently. I also gave him a letter from the NZ Police. It basically said “do this or get fucked over.”

Mr Happy Bank Teller opened the letter and went a little pale. He glanced at me quickly before ducking out the back to get the special forms. I waited, keeping my face bored but professional. I’m considering taking up acting if I ever get out of this shit business. I’d be good at it, and I’m decent enough eye candy for the boys and their action movies.

He came back with the papers. I didn’t even bother getting my glasses out, I just signed them almost off by heart, with Bella’s signature. I slid them back under the glass.

“Thank you Miss Nichols. Please go to that door down there and someone will be there to assist you.”

The guy looked like he couldn’t get rid of me fast enough. What a spineless bloke, it was only a letter from the cops. Sure, it has some threats in it but every bill my dad gets seems to revel in the prospect of burning our house to the ground and looting our corpses. If only they knew who paid their bills. The expression on their greedy faces would be classic.

I walked down to a side door at the far end. Two burly security dudes stepped forward, puffing their chests out and giving me hard man looks. Yep, sure guys, you’re the tough men round here and I’m the pretty little girl.

“Miss Nichols?”


“We’ll take that for you.”

I handed him the suitcase. Our guy in there would make sure these guys did what they were supposed to. I smiled and thanked them before heading for the doors. That was easy, thank God. I hate it when some asshole makes trouble and tries to kill you. I don’t get off on this shit, I’m just a girl who wants to sit in front of the TV eating chocolate.

I stepped out into bright sunshine. A white Toyota Corolla rolled in and idled by the kerb. I chucked on my shades and kept my head pointing in the general direction of the car, scanning the area with my eyes from the safety of mirrored lenses.

Nothing was amiss. Just boring Aucklanders’ living their typical boring Auckland lives. Yeah, I’m not a local. I’m a Palmy gal and like the rest of the country, I take the piss out of Aucklanders’ instinctively.

I popped the handle and jumped in shotgun. No black BMWs for the NZSIS. We save the world in your mum’s car. Aston Martins have this habit of drawing attention.

I buckled up and sighed, staring out the window. Another delivery down, and the rich asshole who asked the government to protect his assets had his stuff delivered without killing the messenger. Not that he probably gave a shit. He’d be glad I took the hit and pat himself on the back for showing such good judgement.

“Go all right?” The driver asked. We didn’t share names. People had this habit of screaming them when you applied hot things to their skin.

“Yeah, the package is sweet.”

The bank exploded.

1 comment:

  1. Characters are the worst thing to happen to writers, especially when their personality makes them closed in and hard to like for the first few scenes.

    Also, I am liking your SNI. It kept me amused when you were posting it in FNW.