I’m not good at keep to my self-imposed deadlines. I often plan in my head about what to do next and by when. It’s a bit different from having competition deadlines or submission deadlines. These you cannot change. At the moment I have three projects on the go and I often find my mind is jumping from one things to the other. I really want to complete them all at the same time. My problem is I want to do my very best, to take my work to a higher standard, to give them each my all.
As a writer we are all very critical of our own work, and I worry that it just not good enough that I can do better. So it’s difficult for me to just let go. I don’t know how it is for you. We all write in different ways. I start with an idea and write an opening. Of course, you need to get your main character down as soon as possible. The reader needs to stand in someone’s else shoes to connect with the story you’re telling.
I’m never sure who my main character is going to be. My first line normally gives me their voice. Once I hear it then my character develops from there as my story unfolds. I’m not one for writing a character sheet where you’re suppose to write everything about them. How many friends do you have that you know everything about them?
James Ravencroft, the main character, from my Stone Angels novel started life as a walk on part in a short story. The short story had already developed his character by the way two other people reacted to him. He’s a bit like Marmite. Either you fall for his charms or he makes your skin crawl.
I enjoy playing with the idea that things are not always what they seem, and people aren’t either. Most serial killers don’t come from poor or uneducated backgrounds. You can’t point the finger at individuals and say for sure which one will become killer. If you were to talk to people after the event most will say, ‘Well, there was always something odd about them etc, etc.’
If that had been the case why wasn’t it picked up before too many victims had lost their lives. No, there isn’t a tick list we can use before a crime is committed, only after someone or a few people have suffered and the police have uncovered the deed can a criminal profiler give the police some idea of the sort of the person they need to look for.
This is the reason I don’t create a check list of who my main character is. Once I have their voice I normally start by giving them a name. I agree my main characters tend to be a bit like me middle-class white, but that might be my upbringing. Though, you don’t know that for sure, do you?
Character building is a fun part of writing, but I really enjoyed editing. Once I find the beating heart of my story, I’m normally on the right track to being satisfied with the project. This is where I have problems with self-imposed deadlines because I can’t say for sure I’ll have it finished by a certain date. I must allow my characters to tell me everything they are willing too while they are uncovering things for themselves as they move through the storyline.
Going back to James Ravencroft and Stone Angels, I was constantly add in new information about him as the book developed. These were things I would never have thought of if I had just wrote a check list about him. Of course, if you were to look on my computer now, you will find a list of things about James which I wrote down as I discovered them.
Right, I shall get back to the story I’m working on. At the moment I’m lost in space with Josh Fulton. He has got himself into a real pickle. His spacecraft is in need of maintenance but when he had the opportunity to fix it, he gambled the money instead. Ahh, you see things are not always what you see, and Josh is about to find that out too.
Have a great day, and chat again soon.