More bloody red ink, spewing endlessly while I cut, chop, whack. This time I’m attacking the characters.
After all the gore, about forty fictional people have survived. They are the community of the heroine and hero; the other protagonists, the antagonists, and folks that don’t have a clue about what’s going on – but are nevertheless affected. Though all of the characters are important, only about fifteen have major roles.
Traditional romantic suspense stories generally have only the hero, heroine, heroine’s protector, an antagonist or two, and maybe one or two additional characters as foils or confidants. For this story of corporate intrigue, traditional numbers and roles are too confining. The heroine is an analyst who works with a team of other analysts. The hero, some protagonists and the main antagonist are executives with partners and staff. The hero and heroine share their leisure time with friends. When the heroine discovers that ‘the sky is falling’, she doesn’t drop everything and run off to isolate herself with the hero. They both work to maintain normalcy in their world while trying to figure out how much of the sky is actually falling and how to prevent being flattened when it does.
Though challenging to keep them, I need all the remaining characters. They help expose different attributes of the heroine and hero by drawing their thoughts out onto the page where they can be seen. Not by switching through forty points of view (though that is a thought…), but by revealing character traits through dialogue. The heroine communicates differently with one of her posse than with a corporate teammate. The hero doesn’t interact the same with corporate associates as with his crew. Having the community of characters simplifies the task of juxtaposing the heroine’s and hero’s personal and professional lives. They also provide information about – and various reactions to – the disrupting consequences of the heroine’s discoveries.
The community of characters is organic to the novel. Each one has his or her own personality and reason to exist. My goal is to show them as real people; not as nebulous clouds of loosely defined characteristics, dropped into the flow just long enough to focus attention on a particular personality aspect.
How is it going? Good question. I have no answer yet. What I do know is that I must get it exactly right. The tone and delivery of the dialogue have to be sincere. Especially with the hero’s interactions. It can’t sound as though ‘this female author thinks this is the way men talk’; a failure that would rip the heart right out of the story. Luckily, I have a way to avert that disaster. No chopping, cutting or whacking this time. Going for a weapon with more finesse. En Garde!
#ROW80 update, 02/20/2011:
- Goal 1: Five more chapters to create revision artifacts for. The closer I get to the end, the more intricate the work and the slower I go. It’s maddening! But still, there’s been progress…
- Goal 2: Very close to my 3 hours per day goal. Tuesdays tend to be the hardest day. Only managing an hour there. Yesterday rocked!
- Goal 3 -Still posting!
Hope ya’ll are doing well!