Now that the feedback for my first draft is starting to trickle in, I am faced with the stark reality that my hero is a little hard to get attached to. Clang.
I guess if there’s one aspect that can bring a story crashing down in flames, it’s lack of love for the protagonist. Imagine if we couldn’t care less whether Harry Potter became a wizard or a plumber? How would Star Wars work out if Luke was a complete git? And I’m not even going to think about George.W. Bush instead of Jed Bartlett in the West Wing.
The thing is, I already suspected that my hero, Lieutenant Horatio Lee – while being loyal, clever, handsome and brave – was also a little too… distant. I was concerned that we didn’t care enough about him to really give a hoot about his predicament, his welfare or his desires and, as such, the story didn’t quite lift off.
I’ll admit that I embarked on this whole undertaking without much of a plot-line in my head and just winged it. Yes, yes, I’m sure many out there are screaming literary blasphemy right now, but to be frank; my method worked really well. I feel I have an action packed, politically-charged plot that rattles along quite nicely, thank you. Nevertheless, the big however is character development. Nay, character empathy. The audience need to be more intrigued about the characters themselves and not just the story that unfolds around them; they need to feel closer to the personalities that appear in the book.
So now I have to go and make you all actually care about the people in my book. How irritating. We have to love Lieutenant Lee, loath Commander Riggs, respect Lord Blaythwaite, fear Sir Horace and root for Susan Lee. But how do I make that happen? Or, more to the point, how do I make that happen without introducing too much back-story?
And what makes people care anyway? Flaws? Vulnerabilities? Idiosyncrasies? Sense of humour? Good looks?
As I write this, I’m thinking that it’s all of the above and probably more. I’m also thinking as I write this that I should stop writing this and start on a bit of character development. Okay then. (But I’d rather be writing a battle scene, if I’m honest).
Has anyone else got to this first draft stage and realised their characters need help? Are there worse things that can need fixing at this stage than this? Please tell me yes…
Thanks for reading.
P.S. Do I come across as a little cross? Well, I am, but only with myself 🙂
P.S.S. Is it seen as bad form to use emoticons in a serious blog?
P.S.S.S. Is this even a serious blog?