All about character

All about character

These past weeks I’ve been working on developing my character. Well, not my character, you see, (although perhaps not a bad idea) but my protagonist, May. Ahh, I hear you say, May, uh huh, right. I see,  January. And this May character is a banker in the City? On the trading floor? And this novel is fiction, right? (A clue, yes I was a banker in the City before jacking it all in for Rhyme Time and Tumble Tots.) Must have been a stretch, right? But let’s be clear, though we might share some qualities, May is not me. I am not May. Nor is this another tell-all, warts-and-all expose of the City (though the City does play a key role in the narrative, but we’ll leave that for another time).

Why would I duplicate myself (assuming I possess such acute self-awareness, hmmm) when part of the joy of writing is to escape reality, which funny enough, being me is a big part. (Not that I don’t love my life, I do! I swear! Too much? ok.) Point is, with writing I have the opportunity to create. Create someone smarter, prettier, wittier, not to mention engaging, layered, complicated and not a little bit damaged. I wanted to make my heroine forthright, assertive, strong, master of her own destiny, a woman of substance as well as being troubled and sympathetic. The problem being, I haven’t.  She’s too passive and one-dimensional, less dynamic than she ought to be. Despite my efforts, too often she lets the actions of others and forces beyond her control dictate her fate rather than creating her own. The exact opposite of what I wanted.

So here I go, toiling through page by page of the manuscript, forging on with the re-writing process and tweaking my character(s) (that’s tweaking peeps, NOT twerking, I have neither the time nor energy to go into my thoughts on that pop-cultural phenomenon), making them more three-dimensional. It’s rather tortuous. Reviewing your own prose is akin watching oneself ten pounds heavier on TV, or hearing your adenoidal voice played back on recording. This is why I could never be an actress, (this and the wee fact I have absolutely no dramatic or thespian talent whatsoever). Is that really me? Or more to the point, did I really write such rubbish? Sadly, yes.

Part of me thinks I am embracing the whole mantra of  ’show, don’t tell’ a bit too literally. I’m so afraid of spoon-feeding the reader that I end up saying too little. But I think a little telling is not such a bad thing under the right circumstances. Show and tell, I say. Didn’t do Dickens any harm, achieving both sharp and lyrical prose in equal measure, in my humble opinion. Now, if only I had a sliver of his talent. But I digress. Bygones.

Anyway, I had better get on with my showing and telling and general tweaking, and leave the twerking to former Disney starlets.

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