Here’s the next instalment in the series. Are you a secret warrior? Do you wish you were more assertive? Do you have some other character trait that you keep well hidden?

Are you a secret warrior? Do you wish you were more assertive? Do you have some other character trait that you keep well hidden?

To avoid frustration and embarrassment, you can relieve the emotion by making your characters behave in the way you’d like to if only you could overcome your fear or shyness or whatever. Or alternatively, they can behave in the way that you’d like those around you to behave. So your character can be an extension of you or someone you know.

Very often, we are surrounded by the same sort of people who would inhabit any world anywhere; all that’s different is the setting.

The funny thing is, once you start off, you’ll find that your creations develop lives of their own. You can equip them with the basics, i.e. good or bad, helpful or whatever but once you set them in motion in your story they will find their own voice and do or say things that may surprise you. At least mine do.

For example, I don’t know how other authors do it but I don’t normally plot the whole story out before I start, rather I have a very general and vague idea of where I want to end up. I use an event to start things off, whether it’s a meeting or a discovery or some other occurrence doesn’t really matter. It’s down to the way the character reacts to the circumstances, after all, if you got a bunch of people off the street and gave them a situation; they would all react differently.  You can pick out the most interesting way of responding and use that as a starting point. Each action will have an effect, moving the narrative forwards. Soon you find that you need more characters to deal with the situation you have created and as if by magic; your story is born. That’s the subject of next week’s post.

In a way, I’d rather let the characters drive the action; they seem to have a much better idea of things than I do. Especially futuristic science things, after all, it’s their world, I’m just the observer.

Once you put a couple of conflicting personalities in play they interact and very often set off in a totally different direction. And when you read it back, you may be surprised to see where you have ended up.

And it doesn’t stop there. When I’m editing and re-writing I will often get a voice in my head suggesting a better way of getting the point over as if the character themselves can see the way out of the situation they have found themselves in.

In a way the surrogacy is very liberating, for example, you can be a bold adventurer or the person who always has the witty repost; whatever you’re really like as a person doesn’t matter. Just by making my character be it I can be it. In another way, it’s weird to try and explain and I don’t know if I come across as some sort of crazy person, with voices in their head. I am sane and rational (I think) I just have a very good imagination.

Maybe that’s the secret of being an author; either you write what you know or what you want to know. And of course, observation is a great tool, just sitting somewhere immersing yourself in what others are doing without interacting is a great way to learn about storytelling.

I could always write about ships or baking, that’s my area of expertise but to me, that would be boring, I always wanted to be a valiant space trader or an interplanetary mercenary and now I can be.

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