Monday, 3 August 2009

Those Pesky Characters Who Just Take Over

I’m nearly done with my WIP currently titled Eternally & Evermore. At eighty thousand words and fifty chapters long I think I have another couple of thousand words – or a chapter and a half, maybe two – and then I can re-title my Word doc as “draft 1” and put it aside for a while to get it out of my system before coming back at it for that all important second (because hopefully it’ll be ready to go to the publisher) draft.

But, something strange has happened. A character who has been introduced very late on in the story has kind-of stolen the show.

Sophie is Will’s thirteen year old daughter and currently lives with her mother in London, attending a private school that Will pays for. (This will all make sense when you read the completed story) She turns up ‘out of the blue’ (not to me, obviously, I knew she was coming) and while she was meant to do one thing in the story, she has actually become the focus of the conclusion and taken over the latter part of the book. She has, as they say, stolen the show.

She’s a fun character for me to write because, as a child, she’s so different from anyone else in the book. She sulks when she doesn’t get her own way and gets giddy when she does. She says what she thinks and will ask inappropriate and awkward questions and, most importantly for me as her writer, she speaks in a truly unique way compared with the other characters. She’s infectious and, honestly, I love her to bits.

She has stolen my heart and has proved to be, I think, one of the best characters I have ever created.

Here’s an example of Sophie getting into one of her speeches. Don’t worry about the content, it won’t make any sense until you’ve read the preceding thirty-thousand words or so. Just enjoy her youthful enthusiasm.

“She’s got a black eye, Dad. She’s covered it up pretty well with foundation, but you can so still tell. There was this girl in my class, Becky, and she came to school one day with a black eye, no one knows how she got it but I think her dad hit her or something ‘cause she can, like, be such a pain so you couldn’t really blame him if he did, but she came to school with a black eye and she’d covered it up with foundation, only not as well as Amy has done, and you could, like, so still see it, it was really, really obvious, but then Mrs Watson, like, made her take the make-up off and she walked around, like, all day with this black eye, well, not all day because she went home at lunchtime because I think she was, like, so really, really embarrassed by it. Was it her husband?”

What do you think? You can’t tell me you don’t like her already. And doesn’t she speak fast?

She’s been great fun to write and I’m really pleased with how she’s turned out. Actually, I really pleased with how the whole story has turned out, but especially Sophie. I didn’t expect her to play as big a part as she has ended up doing but she’s one of those characters that just demands you give her more ‘screen time’. The last character that did that to me was ‘The Colonel’ in Lost & Found and he wound up being one of my all time favourites. But I reckon Sophie has just usurped him for the number one spot.

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