Last night I typed those immortal words ‘The End’ and breathed a sigh of relief and satisfaction. Yes, I just finished the first draft of the second novel in the Sinclair V-Logs series and I’m proud.
I’m proud not only at having finished it but also because of the way my main character, Sam Sinclair, is evolving. In this second novel in his story we find out more about him as a man and what his mind is like, his fears and drives, motivations and his achilles heel. In this new story, Sam suffers some mental and emotional anguish but a lot of growth takes place because of it and I believe we get a much closer and intimate relationship with him as he allows us deeper into his psyche. For me, this is a necessary part of a series and is closer to the way we interact with real, living people in our daily lives. When you meet someone, whether it be via work or socially, you don’t know the whole person right away. It takes time for the other person to open up and allow you in to get to know the real person inside and I believe a series of novels should reflect this. If you knew everything about the main character from the very first book, there would be no more to discover about them and you wouldn’t have that growing intimacy with them that you feel as you read each subsequent book.
As we go through our life, we face challenges and trials which teach us stuff and offers us a chance to grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Life doesn’t stand still for us so why should it for my character? His life is the same sort of continuous growing process as ours are and he faces challenges and trials too, albeit different ones to ours. I try to make my characters believable and although their lives and experiences are set into a science fiction and very futuristic environment, I want readers to be able to relate to them, to recognise them as real people, to see themselves in them. Making a bond with someone is a slow process in real life and I like to bring that to my series’ as I feel it makes the characters real and allows readers to believe in the whole setting, science fiction, monsters, space travel and all.
Of course, in my stand alone novels, which aren’t part of a series, I have to do things a little differently. In those books I have to bring the character out much quicker so readers can go through the ‘getting to know you’ phase before the last page. In a way it’s more challenging to write a stand alone because this whole process has to be done so quickly. The next novel I shall be publishing, in June, is a stand alone I wrote for November 2012 NaNoWriMo and it was quite a task to bring the main character, Jake, out fully in one volume.
I’d be very interested to hear your opinions on this process of getting to know our characters. Do you take it slow in a series or do you like to bring your character out fully in the first volume?