I know folks talk about authors being God-like, and to some extent it’s true. We build worlds, we create people, animals and then give them lives. It crosses my mind every now and then.
Today though, it has been at the forefront of my mind.
Many of you know that I’m elbow-deep in my book ‘Infinite Worlds’, and one of the things that I have always struggled with is character motivations. Why are they there? What are they meant to do? Are they doing what they should be or are they standing around being a participant? (This always puts me in mind of the folks that stand around watching at a disaster, but never contribute anything productive.)
I had this come up in IW when I had killed off a character. My editor left this note in the sidebar, “You’ve now killed off the only male character you had.”
It was an eye-opening moment for me. I literally sat back in my chair, blinked and said aloud, “Well, crap. Now what?”
After days of soul-searching, I realized I did not want to kill him off. Yeah, he was a whiner, but I wanted him back. But what to do with him? What role would he serve in the overall plot? Could he develop as a better person over the duration of the plot? Was there any real reason to bring him back?
Yup, there was. So I did. But now what to do with him? More days of soul-searching, followed by charting his personality so I could get to the bottom of why he was a complaining, irritating crank. Then I delved into the research books to find out what sorts of things would make a whiny cartographer…whiny. Boom, he had a backstory. Boom, he had a past bleak enough to make me cranky about it. Then all I had to decide was what he wanted. Out of life and out of the mission he’d been thrust into against his will. Then I decided how he could contribute to the mission, quit his bitching and become a person I could actually like. Now, he’s made a friend! One I didn’t plan on in the slightest. She literally sat down beside him at a feast, and they’ve hit it off.
(It feels a little like when my boys made their first friends at school or on the T-Ball team)
So why am I telling you all this?
To share the wonder of creating worlds and people, I suppose. To reassure even the shyest reader out there that if Villpe Jarvus, cranky cartographer, can be a better man and make a friend, so can we all.
Do you remember how you met your best friend? Let me know in the comments section below!