Monday, July 16, 2007

Combining characters

I'm not getting much writing done these past several days, for various reasons that would never have stopped a real writer like Robert Olen Butler or Stephen King. However, thinking about the work I've done recently on my novel made me realize I have my own version of the author-narrator-character merge: ever since I began this novel, I've found myself "skimming off" what should be interesting aspects (occupations, quirks of personality or body) of the main character and creating new characters out of them. Then the main character sort of observes or experiences these interesting characters but does not do much or have these quirks herself. To some extent I've caught this problem in the past and reduced the number of characters accordingly--giving more color and energy to the main characters. But I found I'd done it again just recently, not only depriving my main character, once again, of anything substantial to do, but also throwing a wrench in the plot that didn't need to be there. This tendency might be due to vestigial confusion over first vs. third person point of view, but the larger problem is, I suspect, fear of making the main character in any way controversial. But of course this is exactly what she should be.

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