Friday, 27 April 2012

X is for Mystery

My maths is a bit crap, but x seems to be the unknown factor. When I write first drafts, XXX stands in for names and places I haven't yet decided on, or can't remember what I used earlier in the book. But I notice that the same first drafts have fairly simple characters at first, that slowly gather history and mystery as I write on. The main characters often end up quite different at the end of the draft than they started out. I find the mystery, and the second draft becomes a whole rewrite. Now I know them better they will behave differently, and possibly take the story in a  completely new direction.

I like characters to be complex and involved, like real people. I used to meet people through my work at a hospice. These weren't people who would normally have counselling, but their bereavement was a stress so I would see them. Under the most conventional exterior you could find the broadest range of personal secrets, tastes, lifestyles and emotions. It all entered into my memory banks and sometimes (completely anonymised, of course) into notebooks. Out of that mass of observation come characters, sometimes so real to me they almost dictate the story.

I wonder how much of those 'real people' creep into the books, and whether they (or I) will recognise them.  

8 comments:

  1. Hello Rebecca. New follower here. I saw you somewhere this morning so came over to check you out, lol. I read several of your previous posts and like what I see. Yes, our characters have to be multi faceted and how better to do this than by making them a conglomeration of many people we've met.

    Denise

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    1. Multi faceted is good. Thanks Denise, I'm following you, too.

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  2. My characters start as someone I know well enough to form an opinion on how they'd behave in any given situation. However, they develop ideas of their own as the story progresses. I like to call the process: ugg--my mind's gone blank. Oh yes: redemption.

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    1. I love it when characters take charge of the writing...

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  3. I think people are the biggest mystery of the universe. As much as you may think you know someone they can always surprise you. I am fascinated with what you can tell about a person just by there belongings. I read a book called Snoop by Sam Gosling which is about what you can tell about a person from their stuff.

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    1. I feel like that about bookshelves and CD's. You can tell a lot about people from the stuff they read and listen to.

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    2. I find that my characters take up residence in my head for a while before I start to flesh them out on paper. They tend to nag me.

      I use the "X" mark all the time. It helps to keep going instead of stalling when you're blanking out on a word or a name or something.

      ~Lynn

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    3. Hi Lynn, absolutely, when you are on a roll, the last thing you want to do is stall. And 'find' can identify any XXX afterwards. Thanks for visiting.

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