Apart from the seasonal holly in our lane…
More questions and answers about my attitudes towards my writing.
For each of the genres/series already mentioned, what were your favourite characters to write?
There are four that stand out.
Harlequin, the narrator of my fae saga, tried to take over my mind while I was writing his journal. I loved having a muse who was so determined to be heard, so interesting (to me) and so prolific. Perhaps because the journal was necessarily written in first person, I identified with him quite strongly. I just wish he hadn’t told me his story in diary form because the formatting is horrendous.
Moth, his little sister, was another character who entered into my life very fully. I was asked to reply to the letters a friend’s grandchild had left to the fairies at the bottom of the garden and so Moth was born. She was a fae child, responding very seriously to a human child, and she had difficulties with writing, spelling, siblings, etc. She became very real to me and to everyone who was involved as I developed the children’s book. At the time, she was probably my favourite character to write but as she has grown up she holds less interest for me. Again, the letters were written in first person. I have held back on trying to publish Moth because the coloured gel pens the girls used are an integral part of the story. When it all started, publishers were not very interested in works that required too much coloured text. I discussed self publishing and decided it wasn’t economically viable at the time. The along came e-publishing but at first the only widely accessible outlets were black and white. I am now reconsidering the entire project.
You can see from these two that I tend, naturally, to think and write in first person in my original work. I know some people dislike reading first person accounts and prefer narrative in tight third person. However, I have never had a problem with either as a reader, and I find that if a character is telling me their story they tell me in their own voice and I simply scribe what they say.
Genef, the heroine of my fantasy detective series, is another favourite. She ‘speaks’ to me and makes the story telling effortless. Her dragon, Scratch, does the same. I started the series writing in first person but realised quite early in the first book that it wasn’t going to work for me and then had to rewrite extensively. In a detective story you have to leave clues for the reader, and the plot lines contained clues that Genef and Scratch couldn’t possibly have known about. So in a sense, the reader was ahead of them in the process of detection, a plot thread which I found interesting to develop. I know there are plenty of first person detective stories – they just weren’t something I felt capable of writing. I love writing the dragon, with his non-human and non-elf view of the world and all its events. He might be my favourite character of all. In the third book, the one that is currently being amended after beta, some of the chapters are in tight third person for the dragon because he has experiences the other characters can’t share and which are essential to the plot.
The first book is available here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Scroll-Skilled-Investigators-Book-ebook/dp/B00WRIHW4U
or for people who have an e-reader other than a Kindle, here: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/533349
In all my work I am heavily invested in the main characters while I am writing, but the four I have mentioned are probably my all time ‘favourites’ since I have turned them into series, not just single stories or books.
There was a question as to whether any “muse” character speaks more than others, or tries to push their way in, even when the story isn’t about them? I have never had this happen, in either original fiction or fanfiction. I think my muses know their place, which certainly isn’t in stories that don’t belong to them! For me, a muse is the story teller in each individual story and they speak to me very strongly and directly. They might also speak to me outside the story, for instance to comment on something I have seen or visited. This helps me to get to know them better. For example, Moth might comment on the trees in a wood I have been to, telling me whether they would make good fae homes. I can’t imagine why any of them would want to muscle in on someone else’s story or distract me from other writing.
Another question asked for preferences in writing male or female characters and I really don’t have a preference. My characters are first and foremost characters with their own important stories to tell. Their gender is in some ways secondary to that. If I am under pressure, writing more than one story for various publishing needs and fanfic challenges, I might hear Harlequin step in and tell all the characters who are trying to tell me their story to be quiet and let me work. But that’s rare, and only happens if I’m feeling overwhelmed.
If that happens, it’s my own fault for taking on too much at once and I allow my subconscious to use that particular muse to sort the situation out because he’s good at it! I sometimes wonder whether writing is a bit like multiple personality disorder only comparatively benign.
The question about favourite characters is much harder to answer in relation to fanfiction. I write in multiple fandoms and in most of them I use the most obvious characters. For example, if the fandom is a cop buddy TV show the cop buddies will feature heavily in my writing. I enjoy reading about minor characters given their own story but rarely write them. If I look at all my fandoms, I would say that my favourites to write are probably, stupid though this might sound, whatever I am writing at the time. If I start a story, I live it until I’ve finished it and whilst writing, the relationships are my favourite ones ever and the characters take over my brain. However, they don’t continue to live there in the way that my original characters do.
There are, of course, in fanfiction, crossovers and fusions. When I write these, they are my reactions to canon, not at the initial instigation of the characters or muses. I am currently writing a Lewis/Harry Potter crossover series. It was started as a result of a prompt that appealed to me and a couple of photographs of the actors concerned that seemed to add something to the prompt. They have similar looks so I made them cousins and the plot developed from that. This seems to take me back to writing crossovers in my head as a child.
I’m always fascinated to hear how other people’s muses behave and how they approach their characters. So let me know!
And if you celebrate it, have a Happy Christmas!