I am one of those writers who adores it when a character plays up, determines their own way, refuses to cooperate, turns the tables, cocks up, throws a wobbly, changes the rules, or in any other way manages to wander off on their own as though seeking their own adventure – I suspect I like it simply because the first time it happened, I gave in and allowed the character freedom to move, and he took me to great things.
I was very much in the early stages of writing development when that happened. I was working on a story that is now so remote from where it ended up that it can only barely be thought of as related. Yet that character’s release turned out to be not only a fortuitous event for me (evolving a single book into a series), but also proved a major breakthrough in character expansion that has since helped me many times over.
Not all characters go their own way. Nor will they be prodded. I can’t make any of them take off on their own, but I have figured out that their “escape” has a lot to do with that individual character’s potential.
Va’el formed in my mind as a determined young man with his eye on the Khekarian Throne. He was in his late teens when I first met him, destined for book 4, as yet untitled. The “how he came to be” and his parentage was worked out in book 2. His introduction was minor and in the background, in place as a logical step towards properly introducing him later on.
Only, of course, in that book, he couldn’t be in his late teens, he was only a child – no threat to anybody, yet, but the germ of that had to be there, his nature had to show. So, in he came, a spoilt rich Khekarian boy of the opinion he’s not rich enough. At ten years of age, he already had an inflated sense of ego and a lust for power, but being the bastard son of a bastard son of the Emperor might just do that. Trouble is, while his esteemed father is inside the Imperial circle and a recognized Royal, Va’el is another generation removed and is not. A small matter of matrimonial lack has left him cheated of a princely crown.
When you meet Va’el, you know there’s trouble ahead.
Writing him in like that in effect left me with two characters, the young volatile one introduced in book 2 and the older, colder villain you will meet in book 4. The eighteen year-old is not going to throw tantrums like the ten year-old did. He’s grown up. Something has influenced his life and calmed him into a coldly calculating character instead of an explosive one – still with ill-intent, of course. Who or what changed him?
Some of you will think you know, but there are surprises ahead, too, and I do like to throw in a curve.
I am enjoying writing the 3rd book. I’m getting as much pleasure out of it as I did the 2nd one. Here, in book 3 (The Bastard Line), I have to take the boy and lead him to become the man, and it has to work. Va’el cannot have a personality change overnight. Something has to change in him and through him for him to evolve into the character he will be.
So, while he surprised me in book 2 (The King’s Sacrifice), he also delighted me for showing me his nature and giving me the challenge to open up his potential to become a fully rounded villain. This is an interesting exercise for me. All my other villains came in fully grown and fully formed, and Va’el now is showing another side of himself that I shall shamelessly exploit.
So, where is he taking me as he heads off in his own direction? In “Good Villains and a sense of Wow”, I said he was taking me into deeper water, and that’s true, but there is also softer pastures. Unfortunately (perhaps for him, perhaps for me), those softer pastures are heavily mined. I’ve already seen the KEEP OUT signs, but I’m pushing ahead anyway.
Oh dear. That means there’s some interesting plot development ahead.
So, what can I tell you? Have I thrown him in with Sevi as I threatened to in “Is this a chance for Writer’s Revenge?” Yes I have. There you go, hopefully that was something worth reading this far for.
Va’el is going to surprise you. What bothers me is that I think he’s going to surprise me, too.
Have a great day everyone.