More Reflection on Characters
On Monday, I posted my initial reflections on the importance of character, essentially arising from last week’s guest blog posts with SF Signal–the Mind Meld on Heroes, here—and Abhinav Jain in his guest author series on the importance of names in Fantasy, here. These posts led me to reflect on some of the characters in The Wall of Night series and the testing of “who they are” and “what they are about” through the action in the story.
Writing characters is challenging and exciting and fun—but it’s even more of a blast when readers start writing and telling you what “speaks to them” about characters in your stories.
In Monday’s post, I talked a little but about the Earl of Night in the context of reader feedback. But he is not alone in that respect. A reader in Australia wrote to tell me that: “The thing I really like about … [the character of] … Kalan is that he has not lost his spirit even though he has become a person his whole family despises. He still has hope and kindness in his heart.”
Yes, I thought, yes: that’s exactly right.
Another reader also liked the heralds of the Guild, Jehane Mor and Tarathan of Ar, who have powers “…and are not afraid to use them.” This particular reader found the heralds “… perhaps the other two most interesting characters of the whole book (the other two being Malian and Kalan.)”
Different readers, different perspectives—but as a writer I am rewarded to find readers being drawn to a range of the characters that appear within the series, especially since there are two principal characters (Malian, the Heir to the House of Night, and Kalan) and several others that count as “major.”
One of these “majors” is the Honor Captain, Asantir, and in my post on “The Power of Names” I discussed how her arrival in the story was relatively unexpected for me as the author and arose from a change in name. To find out the how and why, you will have to read the article, here — but what I learned from this process (but should have known given the number of Fantasy stories based around the concept!) is that names are powerful and changing them can be a dangerous business.
Needless to say, whenever I think about changing anything about a character now, from name to hair color, I always do so with extreme care. Because characters, it seems, just like real people, have minds of their own—but perhaps that’s because, if I’m doing my job right, within the pages of the book they are real people: they have to be, in fact, in order to live for you on the page.