Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Writing - Do you like your lead character?

I like to share where my inspirations come from because it may actually be of value to someone out there. Today's blog comes from a reminder I received about Agatha Christie and her opinion of the character she created - Hercule Poirot.

Poirot played by David Suchet

Poirot is one of Christie's longest lived characters appearing in 33 novels, 1 play (Black Coffee) and 50 short stories published between 1920 and 1975. Yet she was heard to describe him as an 'insufferable little man' and would never allow images of Poirot to appear on her book covers. She also wrote in 1938, while they had their difficulties, 

'We are friends and partners, and I am beholden to him financially. On the other hand he owes his very existence to me.'

That last statement may seem as though the author has become detached from reality but in fact, and as I and other writing friends have reiterated in the past, creating a character is giving birth to a person who has all the characteristics of a living and thinking human being. If you have done a good job the character will take hold and set off in their own directions.

So do you like the characters that you have created? In fact when you create your hero the personality is what you want it to be but the more you use the character in stories the greater the likelihood that there will be issues that arise which are not handled as you expected. You may dislike the response your created person displays. 

What should you do? Should you change your lead character to fit into what you expected? I would argue that if you tried that you would fail. Your character is who they are, if you start to tinker with how that person works they will become unrecognisable and writing stories round them may be too problematic to continue.
Of course if you are unhappy with the way things are going you can always kill the character off. 

Do I like Steele? As I'm reaching the end of the seventh Steele story I would say that yes I'm ok with his performance and reactions. There are subtle changes occurring but up to present they aren't causing me any difficulties. As the stories develop the question of Steele's mortality does crop up in my mind and even if I write as many books as Ms Christie they probably won't all be around Patrick A Steele

Whatever you feel about your hero/heroine I would advise that you remain open minded and receptive to the idea of changes in them. If you are a new writer worrying about the creation of a central character I would caution you to be careful as in some degree you are playing God! Whichever is the case enjoy the experience.

God Bless