the sinclair v logs

Character building and why flaws are important.

I’m getting excited for my new release, Bygora Vandos, which will be out during the second week of October.  This book is the second volume in The Sinclair V-Logs series and sees Sam Sinclair take on an undercover job that ends up costing him dearly.

In Bygora Vandos, we find out more about Sam as a man, a little of his history and a couple of the most powerful events in his life that have shaped him and the way he interacts with people.  Like all people, Sam has experienced bad times and understanding them helps us to get to know him as a person and aids us in connecting with him in a much closer way.  Sam is an interesting and sometimes, complex character.  A man with a strict code most of the time, he understands that from time to time, circumstances call for him to step outside of his code.  Although he doesn’t like having to do this, occasionally it’s necessary for him to get the job done.  Like all people, Sam sometimes makes mistakes, he’s a person not a robot and giving him flaws makes him real.  Nobody is perfect.

As you are no doubt aware, when meeting someone new, it takes time to get to know them fully.  As time goes on you find out more about the person, their likes and dislikes, their morals, what motivates them and the things that get them down.  This is how all of our relationships develop, it’s normal human interaction and I feel this to be a very important aspect of character building in fiction.  Sometimes, an author gives you everything there is to know about a character right from the start, and that disappoints me greatly.  Without anything more to discover, the character becomes boring and I quickly lose interest, and I’m sure it’s the same for most people.

When building your characters, remember to hold back, especially if you plan more books with the same character.  It gives us something to look forward to in later books so that we buy them to find out more about the character we’ve come to like from your previous volume.  As my dad used to say when he caught Mother and I talking about women’s dress sense, “it’s not what you show that titillates us, it’s what you don’t show.”

Second volume is now finished

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?