Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Chicken & The Egg

Us writers are always working on ways to make our characters jump seamlessly from the page into the reader's mind. We do this in various ways of course.

But for me my characters always seem to stem from some part of myself.

In Sun Worship I touched upon how I try to experience the things my characters do. 

Well, within reason of course. If anyone's read SixDead Men I'm sure they're very worried right now.

See for yourself...

 Terence Ire shifted his position swiftly and the knife was suddenly more securely in the grasp of his right hand. He slid the blade beneath Marc’s rib and felt the tip puncture the heart. He smiled at the look of surprise on the dying man’s face and pushed the knife as far as it would go before he twisted it expertly. He felt Marc’s body shudder against his holding calves and thighs. As Marc’s eyes rolled back in his head Ire released his left hand from Marc's mouth. He wiped the saliva and snot on the glove on to the dead man’s t-shirt. He pulled the blade out and stood in one fluid movement.  

So... ALL my characters stem from some part of my own personality?

Well, where Terence Ire came from I really don't want to know.

At any rate, I often take a personal quirk and impose it on a character in some shape or form. But in the main I like my central characters to possess certain personality traits:

  • Humour

  • A sense of fairness

  • A taste for good food

  • A love of life

After watching a documentary on
Colin Dexter and his character Morse, I was struck by how I had clearly incorporated some of Morse's qualities into my own detective, Robert Deed, in Six Dead Men. But then I've also tried to make him relentless like Columbo and inscrutable like 
Sherlock Holmes.  

Then I also realised some of his personality quirks were in fact mine – namely:

A love of crosswords
A love of literature
A love of privacy
A hatred of cruelty towards children and animals
A hatred of misogyny
A hatred of discrimination

Well, here's the thing; when I wrote him I wanted to give him characteristics which I admire in a person. I wanted to create a male character who was a thoroughly nice person, strong minded but fair yet emotionally fragile. But more than anything, I wanted him to be credible.

So I was seriously chuffed recently when a male friend, whose opinion I value, told me he really liked the character I'd created. He found Detective Inspector Robert Deed completely believable.

I've since come to realise that Deed also embodies many of the qualities I wish to own. Except for the lonely, emotionally fragile part.

So I started to consider the whole chicken and egg debate. I wondered if I had begun to absorb some of my characters' traits into my own psyche. At this point I don't truly know the answer to that. But I do know that I often wish I could be more like a particularly strong character I wrote when it comes to certain situations in life.

But if any of you who know me well think that I'm becoming like the people I create on the page then please – answers on a postcard of your choice.

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