clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Getting to Know You ...

At left, Kennedy and Khrushchev from June 1961. The Cuban missile crisis was in October 1962 for those of you keeping score along with the game.

I've been away from the blog but not away from my writing.

As I wind down the rough draft of this section of the novel-in-progress, I'm struck by what I know know of the characters.

I give my characters names culled from people I knew in places I've been years and years ago.

The personalities of the people I change as soon as I decide to borrow a name or even a part of a name. I use parts of people I've known but they are never represented in the slightest in these "working names" before I perform substitutions in the final draft. They're placeholders.

Every story I write has a "Bob" in it when I run the first draft. Yes, sometimes "Bob" is a woman. There is a lot of emotion for me in a woman's name so in drafts I often use a placeholder. "Bob" it is.

As the story shapes up, the characterizations become stronger and the personalities coalesce for me. I get to know these folks on the page. I almost universally like them - even the bad ones. Of course, I know the whole story of the character and the reader does not.

Our views on these people I conjure therefore differs between author and reader.

I was just struck as I revise the outline of this rough draft how, when I started, the characters had a certain form and now a couple of hundred pages in they have a completely different form.

Some of the changes came from the plot points they had to negotiate. Some of the change just came from the blue.

I like this part of the writing process when you know the characters you're working with as if they're old friends and they've not yet overstayed their welcome in your house.

Oh, they do.

By the time final line edits and proofs are done, you never want to think of some of them again. But now, they're welcome and good company.

I wonder, am I alone in seeing these friends of ink and paper in such a realized fashion?

They're as real to me as my own family. No wonder we write.

I'm off to do so now. You should, too. There are characters to meet.

No comments: