Characters are human too!
Lately I’ve been engaged in what I thought was the final edit and light revision of my novel, Dark Rising. Light revision i.e. corrections/adjustments in continuity, character titles etc – nothing big. But the light revision turned into major revision as I read certain sections and felt a burning desire to deepen the plot – thicken the flavor. So, those of you who are like “she hasn’t finished that damn book yet?” that’s why ;-)!
During my revisions, I’ve run into a bit of a snag. Why? Because I am damn stubborn and really slow to learn from the past. A little history:
The first time I did NaNoWriMo, I tried to kill a character. I say “tried” because he refused to die. Refused. Unbeknownst to me then, we had a conversation that I would end up having with other characters in the years following:
Him: “I’m not dying. I won’t let you kill me.”
Me: “But you have to die!” pleads “It’s a climactic point! I’m kiling you – why am I arguing with you? You’re not real!”
Him: “Nope. Not dying.”
See how calm he is? How aggressive and unhinged I’m getting? Yeah. He didn’t budge. So, I was stuck – I literally could not write. It felt like constipation, I kid you not. Had no idea what to do. When I finally got to the I-have-no-idea-what-to-do stage, and was open to suggestion, he spoke again:
Him: “So, what if I faked my own death?”
Me: “Go on.”
Him: “Well, I’d be effectively dead for the story, right?”
Him: “And I could come back in at another point or be in another story altogether, right?”
Me: sighs “Right!”
In the end he got his way.
So when I had a problem and got stuck in the early stages of Dark Rising, do ya think I immediately knew that one of my characters was in distress and needed to talk it out?
Silly rabbits, that would be too easy.
Eventually, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I figured out that Uriel had a problem with his role in the narrative.
Uriel: “You are making me the villain. I AM NOT the villain.”
Me: “No, I’m making you an unwitting pawn, not the villain.”
Uriel: “I see. No.”
Me: “But, the plot…”
An argument with Uriel – wait, I can’t even call it an argument. He just flatly refused to discuss it until I had come up with something he was not only willing to do, but that aligned with his position as an Archangel.
Back in the present. I’ve been stuck for over 2 months now. In unison: “Did you immediately know that one of your characters was in distress and needed to talk it out?”
Silly rabbits! Haven’t you been paying attention? Of course not! It took almost 3 months to figure it out! LOL
This time it’s Lucifer that has a problem. In my defense, as I was revising this particular section, I wasn’t clear on how it was changing – I just knew I wasn’t satisfied and it needed to change. So this section was difficult to begin with. I thought things changed once I got clear on the scene and knew what was going on. Still no writing. Still no idea as to why not. What can I say? I’m slow!
It wasn’t until this weekend that I realized that we had to have “the talk” and I needed to sit with him to address his concerns. After having gone through these instances, my feeling is that I need to get to a place of openness and willingness to listen. I have to let go of the control – and how frightening is that?
Anyway, I knew what I had to do, but was reluctant. It’s one thing to talk to a “fictional” character, or a fictional adaptation of an Archangel. But Lucifer was different, he has so much psychic baggage in this culture, and I was nervous about bringing that baggage into the discussion.
In the end though, it was fine. In my story he is an Archangel, and that’s who showed up. I’m not going to recount our talk – he has a thing about showing weakness. But it went much like the ones above. I explained that my narrative required certain hardships from him, then asked him to trust me, that in the end what I’m moving him through will be all the better for him in the end. I do have his highest good in mind, as I do with all my non-villainous characters. He’s still reluctant, but I feel he is willing to move forward. We shall see.
P.S. Kai is bursting with pride right now. He wants me to let you know how much I appreciate him because he’s so easy to write. (He’s one-upping Lucifer. Boys will be boys!)