Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Got Character?

On my agent's loop the other day, I asked about my newest WIP and whether the background I had for my character was a bit *too* much for Young Adult. Mainly I asked because the character chose me. Once I started plotting, her name and her background came through strong and I found myself staring at potential controversy. Hence the reason why I turned to authors I trust to ask about what would be coonsidered too much. I sparked interest, brought worry, and received a little bit of backlash.

Some worried about their young girls reading about a character who has such emotional problems that she turns to extreme measures. (Sorry I'm being vague here, but I'm protecting the concept.)

Others were very encouraging and others still came up with alternative backgrounds close to my original in case the book gets shot down because of the X factor.

Even asking the question was an eye-opening experience and for a couple of days...I let the story go. I didn't want to upset anyone or seem like I was purposefully going for shock marketing.

Only...the character wouldn't let me go.

I thought of putting this taboo X Factor into a book geared towards older audiences...maybe that new genre "New Adult" for college-aged people would work.

"But I'm not in college," said the voice in my head.

LOL I swear I think writer's are borderline schizo with all the character activity in our brain.

I once blogged about Grey, the side-kick to Vic in my novel Murder Creek, and how he corrected me when I failed to crack a joke about something Vic said to him in a scene. I was showering when I heard "You think I'd let that sh*t slide?" or something along those lines and sure enough...when I went back to edit I channeled Grey and had a humorous back and forth to put into the book.

Now, my MC Niabi is calling me a coward for considering changing her age to something more "acceptable".

I'm conflicted. The story I was originally writing (with my occasional writing partner Vas) seems to be taking a different twist. I wonder if I can keep with the original SL (Story Line) with a background XFactor this big. If I can shift it down in importance to the story but keep the impact of it hard and relevant.

It's a lot of pressure, and I pretty much just have to plow through it and see how it comes out...and I know Niabi will let me know if I start writing something she doesn't feel is legit.

So what do you all think? Does the character choose you? Have you ever written a character who you felt deep but worried about transferring to the page?



Chris said...

LOL. My characters pester me all the time. Of course, sometimes it works the other way round and I have to poke and prod before they stand up and reveal themselves, but they do tend to be remarkably insistent, these fictional people that we tell ourselves we made up. It gives credence, I think, to Carl Jung's notion of archetypes (unrealized bits of ourselves that run around disguised as mythological figures or turn up in dreams, etc.)

I think that there are times when you can tweak a character, and other times when to do so would ruin the character. It's just a call that we all have to make. Perhaps that younger character wants to be in a novel aimed at adults?

Chris B

Anonymous said...

Yes, I believe characters call your name. They somehow get a hold of you and won't let go.

They adapt well to change as long as you are comfortable enough to write it.

It's when you as the Author become uncomfortable do they struggle to be heard.

Anonymous said...

I have a general idea about my characters when I start a book, then their personalities take root as I write. I sometimes find the hero or heroine for a next book from a cast of secondary characters I really like. They demand I write them their own story!


Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Yep, the characters can try to run the show--if you let them. Sometimes you can wrestle them into shape, but usually they'll put up a fight.

jCarol Jo said...

Yes, characters definitely call out to you at times. At least that is what got me started writing in the first place. Sounds like you're torn between the concept and its marketability. That is a tough one, especially I think, in the YA field. Let us know how this works out.

オテモヤン said...