If you read last week's Work in Progress Wednesday post, you'll know I'm working on an as yet untitled ghost story. The main character is a spoiled 16 year old girl. She's riddled with flaws, which I love. Her one saving grace is her violin playing, which helps her family and others forget what a holy terror she can be. I can barely handle her myself. That's kind of the fun part, and why I like her so much, why I'm looking forward to writing Mara's story.
Except that she keeps telling me that she's more "special" than I want to make her. I've never had a character give me so much attitude, or speak with such a clear, persistent voice, so how can I deny her what she wants? Especially when the idea is so tantalizing if correctly executed.
Mara tells me she wants the power to see the mulo her people fear, the spirits of the dead. I could give it to her, and though it could potentially make for a dynamite story, and even make some of my plot points make more sense, it COULD come across as cliche. So there's a challenge right from the start: make this story believable and different. It'll change everything, including the dramatic and fiery opening scene I'd planned. But for the better?
I think with Mara it could be for the better. Maybe the power and the way she uses it could aid in her character development much more than the original adventure I'd planned for her ever could. Now I can see her trying hard at first to ignore the ghosts of Paris, restless spirits she eventually helps find peace. Not all of them, of course, but one in particular.
It could work.
But I damn her for giving me this challenge at the same time I'm thanking her for challenging me. I'm just glad I'm a plotter and figured this out before I'd gotten 10k words into the story. Uh-oh, I jinxed myself, I know it. I'll be cruising along on this story, some 20k words in and Mara will throw me for another loop. I can sense it. She's a brat that way. I'm going to have to show her who's boss...
I've had evolving characters before, but it's like Mara's trying to be part of the creative process whether I want her input or not. She wants to tell me her story, and I'm just the chump with the keyboard.
Anyone else have any experiences with the characters telling YOU who THEY are, not vice-versa?
“All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” ~George Orwell
I'm a YA writer who delves into urban fantasy, paranormal and romance, and who loves reading good books almost as much as writing them.
When not writing—or working—I enjoy daydreaming, drinking tea, and walking in cemeteries. I used to spend the rest of my time checking my inbox for manuscript requests, but am now proudly represented by Rosemary Stimola, of Stimola Literary Studio.