Sunday, 25 January 2015

Characterisation

People often ask, are your characters a part of yourself?    As a writer, I guess it would be too easy to place yourself in a character or characters, though it can't be denied that many of my characters are products of both my experience in life and inspired by the people I've met along the way.

Leigh McFadden Boswell is inspired by a girl I once knew at school who was very beautiful, but very shy.    I remember how tall she was, willowy, and with a very gentle, tolerant nature.   I remember too, wondering how someone so lovely wasn't able to choose any boy in the school as her date.  Being only around 14 or 15, I had yet to learn that looks alone are no guarantee of popularity and that what is inside really does matter.

Daniel Boswell is a product of several people I've known in my life.  In the words of the great, late J M Barrie, I just took them all, rubbed them together to light the fire.   All his vile crassness once lived and breathed and probably still does.

David Othello.  Again, several people I've known in my life.   All his little sayings and peccadilloes are  real life traits and expressions from real people.

Minnie Chandler, Earl and Charlotta Chandler, Toby and William Stevens, have no particular inspiration.   Somehow, they just acquired a life of their own and developed in writing.

Lewis Powell, is a bit of an enigma wrapped in a riddle and bringing him to life was particularly difficult at first.   Literature has him written in so many forms, from dumb villain  to homosexual obsessed with John Wilkes Booth to country boy bumpkin.   The truth, I believe, is much more complex and unexpected.    Thanks to several historians, in particular Powell's biographer, Betty Ownsbey, he emerges is an intelligent, reasonably educated young man from a good family, who was inherently compassionate and sensitive, kind and well mannered, with a passionate nature and hot headed temper.   All traits that make you wonder all the more how it all went so spectacularly wrong. Obviously, I had to use my own instincts, all the minutiae I'd collated about him and how I felt he might have been to put flesh on his bones.

The Bransons.   Very little is known about them personality wise.   Again, what little I'd read about them, formed them into people for me, and I found visualisation techniques particularly helpful.   Also, some dialogue accredited to them gives some insight into the type of people they might have been.




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