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Thursday, January 24, 2013

On Progress, Character Creation, and Reviews

Excellent progress made on "Seer, Tyro, Fiend" yesterday, and some this morning, too. The story is really coming together well. A fair amount of the action involves Stefanie's odd and tortured childhood, and I often find myself somewhat depressed after writing any passage in which she recalls significant events. Perhaps that says the emotion really comes through, although Stefanie reacts to them with anger instead of sadness. Her character keeps getting stronger as she works through her feelings while at the same time facing a mystery.

I've probably mentioned I will be on a panel discussion at Love Is Murder next week, about writing more than one series at a time. Naturally, this has me thinking about writing sequels, as does an email from the panel moderator with some sample questions which might be presented at the session. I suppose that when I begin to develop a character for a novel, I build a past for him or her which forms the basis for the way they think, feel, act, and react. I seem to have a penchant for tortured souls. Jack Watson certainly fits in that category, although Tracy Wiley not as much. A second book in a series allows some exploration of the character's defining past, drawing out the details that would have been too much to include in the introductory book.

I suppose this is where I should state that my own past is no more troubled than anyone else's. There were no major trauma, no huge obstacles to overcome. No drama. Drama is what I try to create for my novels, though. I find it rewarding and stimulating to make up stuff that happened to my character, weaving a past for them that explains who they are at the time of the story. Is the creating of a tortured past an attempt to elicit empathy from the reader? I don't consciously approach it that way. I'm not thinking, "What will make this character interesting?" In Stefanie's case, she has an unusual mix of traits and talents which made her childhood equally unusual, and being different is what she fears. She wants acceptance, to have the kind of life she sees other people having. In "Seer," she feels she has some of that acceptance from her small circle of people, and she is starting to explore her differences in a more positive way, looking to them to make her stronger even if that means being different.

On a side note, yesterday, I did a Google search on my name, which I occasionally do to find mentions of my books, and I came across a review of "The Dreamer Gambit" on a blog page. The reviewer gave it three stars out of five, and commented that one detriment was its length, i.e., whenever it seemed the story should be over, it kept going. I think I see where that opinion could come from, but I believe it is important to tie up all the loose ends at the end of the story. "Dreamer" was a complex puzzle involving lots of people with different motives, and it required a fair amount of wrap-up after the big action moment. I've seen this done by best-selling authors all the time, so after thinking about it more, I decided to take the criticism with a grain of salt. After all, you can't please all the people all the time. At least the rating of three stars was meant to indicate it is worth reading.

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