A character starts somewhere, a look, an expression, a feeling, a deed – something happens that grabs a writer’s attention and a character starts to form, but some characters are born out of necessity – Va’el, for instance, was forced to appear at age ten, when I had planned him to be at least in his late teens, which rather makes him unique – While most of my characters have formed out of a perceived attitude in the face of some event, and evolve, Va’el already had presence, his circumstances were already set and inescapable.
I write posts about Va’el because he rather caught me by surprise. Forced to put in this early appearance at age ten, he started off as an inconvenience, but soon managed to show me that I have a wonderful opportunity here to step-by-step evolve a villain from childhood. He had further thrown a few spanners in the works by making me see a vulnerable side to his nature that he himself will refuse to see. So, what he has given me is a far deeper character than I would have had, and for that, of course, I appreciate him.
But how did he begin, this villain? At eighteen or so, he has his sights set on power, a regular foe to battle against. At ten, he is hardly opposition. At the same time, he couldn’t just pop up as something fresh and evolve the way my characters normally do. He was already defined by the circumstances of his birth and the meagre power he has been given.
To find him, all I had to do was look at his background and his circumstances and, seeing that being a bastard has a price, his lack of a princely crown, and knew at once what his attitude would be. He would be disgruntled, angry and impatient. He would feel that his importance has been devalued, that he has been robbed of his rightful place inside the Imperial Family circle.
When you wrap that into a ten year-old with no discipline, you’ve got extra trouble. And so it was that Va’el erupted into my second book (The King’s Sacrifice), throwing a full-blown tantrum.
He expects to have his way, this boy. He expects the mistake of his birth to be rectified and for him to be officially recognized as royalty. With his father coming home, he has a good chance of making that happen. He’s on a mission and already has his eyes on the distant Throne.
And now we are on a journey together in book three (The Bastard Line) as he heads off towards manhood and maturity. He’s certainly teaching me stuff. Mostly to listen. He’s also taking me places I did not expect to go, at least one of which should have interesting repercussions somewhere down the line.
Interestingly, I don’t know yet what those repercussions are, but I’ve grown to trust this boy and I’m willing to find out. Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about this until somewhere around book six or beyond.
You didn’t think I had plans to retire, did you?
Cheers all, 😀