Monday, September 11, 2006

The Stubborn Merchant

Shnakvorum Rikoyoch (Greetings, friends).

I don't know how it works for other writers, but some of the characters in my science fiction novel can be incredibly stubborn. I'm not talking about in the story, but during the act of creating them. I've had to learn to listen to what they're telling me when I go about bringing them into the story. Case in point, the merchant Gruln.

For a long time I was struggling with this character. All I wanted him to be was a bit character who would show up early on when my protagonist, Rathe, was getting some new gear. But the character was adamant that he wasn't going to resign himself to such a small part and that his name wasn't Gruln. No matter how many ways I tried to write the scene with him in it, things just wouldn't work.

I fought with him for days on exactly what his role would be, but he'd just stomp around in my head refusing to act right. Finally I gave in and asked him just what role he thought he should play, but all I got was "not Gruln" and "one leg." Nothing like characters in your head talking in cryptic code to make you feel one mile past the end of insanity.

Frustrated, I packed up my gear and headed over to Java Joint. After all, what better place to figure out a character than in a place full of them? Plus, Bailey has always shown an interest in my writing, and I always feel better talking about Saurian troubles out loud. When I got there Bailey asked how Sauria was doing, and I told her about this stubborn character--and wouldn't you know it, just as soon as I voiced his demands out loud the answer hit me like a falling blite!

You see, back during his days of training, Rathe had rescued a hatchling that had one of its legs bitten off. The pieces started falling into place. Due to reasons I can't divulge here, this hatchling would be one of the last people Rathe would want to see again. And enough time had passed that this young hatchling could believably be working as a merchant (three aboyoch, to be precise). But best of all this would add a new layer to Starfire and work to flesh out Rathe's character even more.

So I guess I've learned to listen to my characters when they begin acting stubborn. After all, I have to assume they know themselves better than I do. And they've never led me down a wrong turn yet.

-- S-man

Posted by ~ Bailey Truitt @ 7:00 AM
Believe it or not, I started a novel once. I think I was about 23. Didn't get too far. The main character came on real strong at first, oh yeah. Wooing me like a shameless harlot. (Only it was a he.) He got himself in trouble, got out of it--then nothing, He flat out shut up. And nobody else spoke up either. End of novel.

Maybe I'm more of a short story guy.
Posted by Anonymous larry cellaway : 7:24 AM
What's a blite? What's an aboyoch? What's a hatchling (OK, maybe I can figure that one out.)

No wonder they look at you a little strange down at Java Joint. You don't speak English.
Posted by Anonymous burt laroy : 7:25 AM
I'm intrigued. Sounds like you haven't given up on those Saurians. Please keep us updated on your progress.

Can't wait to buy the book.
Posted by Blogger Domino : 8:12 AM
Burt asked:
What's a blite? What's an aboyoch? What's a hatchling (OK, maybe I can figure that one out.)

A blite is a large, airborn plant that is quite common on Sauria, especially around active volcanos.

An aboyoch is a Saurian year.

And yes, Saurians hatch from eggs and aren't live-born. Usually the young are called hatchlings until they reach 3 aboyoch and begin their first apprenticeship or enter military training.

And I'm just as eager to sell the novel as you are to read it Domino. :) Hopefully we'll both have our wish fulfilled soon as Starfire is coming along nicely.
Posted by Blogger S-man : 12:40 PM
"Nothing like characters in your head talking in cryptic code to make you feel one mile past the end of insanity."

LOL! Loved this line. I think that's where all writers exist. And the whole character disagreement/argument? Yeah. I can relate. It's the same for me. Of course, I'm not contending with alien creatures. :) Still, the experience is the same.

Glad you found a solution. Amazing how talking out the problem goes a long way toward solving it.
Posted by Blogger Tiff/Amber Miller : 2:37 PM
S-man, I may not completely understand all your characters but I do enjoy listing to you talk about them. I just can't imagine how you keep all that stuff in your head. When you get that book published, I'll make a nice display of it right up in the front with my new coffee mugs. (In case you haven't noticed, I've added a picture of the mug to the blog so anyone can have a cup of joe courtesy of Java Joint in your very own home!)

S-man, you add real flavor to the place. Thank you!
Posted by Blogger ~ Bailey Truitt : 8:10 PM
S-man, greetings from a fellow writer. Your book sounds fun. Let me know when you need a test reader.
Posted by Blogger The Curmudgeon's Rant : 10:05 PM
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