Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Writing Process - Identity and characterisation

This weekend has reminded me very much of my own identity. My football team were playing at the home of our biggest local rivals. We won!!!! Many friends have asked me about the rivalry and my stock answer is - it's tribal. In point of fact that is only half a joke. The rivalry goes back centuries. I'm sure there are other areas of other countries that are exactly the same but local identity can be a useful tool when writing stories. 

Black and white peppered moths

Identity is often dictated by environment as well as location. The photo of the moths is an example of how simpler creatures than humans adapt to their environments. The white variety is the natural form of the moth. On the left is an example of the same species that was active in Bradford, West Yorkshire before smokeless law came into effect in the late sixties early seventies. At that time pollution was such that the tree bark upon which the moths lived was blackened and so, to avoid being picked off by predators, the moths evolved to the dark colour.

Similarly we humans adapt to different types of situations. Ever heard anyone talking on the telephone? They often adopt a 'telephone voice' and the logical reason is to be understood. I often embarrass myself and my family by adopting the accent of a person that I'm talking to - I can't help it I seem to be a verbal chameleon.

The characters that we create can be enriched, made more alive if you like, by ascribing such regional variations. It doesn't have to be extensive or repeated but rather referred to on occasions where it is relevant to do so. Steele is a reasonable example. He is a man born in the north east of England. Sunderland in fact so he has a north eastern accent but not of the Geordie variety. The accent is not as strong as that of those brought up on the banks of the River Tyne on top of which he was educated in a different part of the UK (want to know where - buy a book) and then lived in a third part of the country. I use his regional wanderings to develop his sound, his manner, in short - aspects of his character.


Tomorrow my 3rd Steele novel 'The Biter Bit' will begin its serialisation on Venture Galleries website.

Patrick A Steele, accountant turned vengeful Robin Hood, is off on his crusades once again. He has given himself a role that sees him trying to right the wrongs and inadequacies of the legal system in the UK. His experiences as a child and through higher education have equipped Patrick with abilities that realistically only has value in the field of rough justice.

Steele has developed a working relationship with the Gurentai, a more benevolent sub-group of the Japanese Yakuza and, as a result of a number of successful associations, have furnished him with a Swiss bank account and a very healthy retainer. As a result Patrick is building his own little empire.

Everything seems fine in his life until he is drawn into trying to solve the problem of lawless youths that are targeting tourists in the City of York. He enlists the help of his two colleagues from Japan, Takuo Sumisu and Naomi Kobayashi, and with one of his own staff they head off to identify and eradicate the source of the problem. All is proceeding as planned until there is a knifing and one of the team is shot!
The action then migrates across France and eventually to Le Marche in eastern Italy where it seems to have been brought to a conclusion until the team return home!

God Bless