Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Black Holes and Dead Ends

Sometimes, despite a writer’s best efforts, we find ourselves slipping into black holes of our own creation or running into dead ends.

Looking back at Before Sunrise, I’m surprised that I still enjoy reading it. I generally can’t go back and re-read stories I’ve written after they’ve grown more than a few years ago. My writing style grows more polished and I pick up new techniques, which make the old stories just painful to read. Yet, Before Sunrise has a few sparks left in it to hold my fickle and highly critical attention.

Yet, problems lay in the story, which have kept me from pursuing it as a novel. And one, of the biggest problems lies with character development, particularly in the case of Sebille.

If you read my post on character development, you know that my characters (to me) are living, breathing creatures with souls and thoughts and plans all their own. Sebille is an interesting character to me because if her extremely passionate nature. As a result, she is prone to flying to extremes in her actions. Furthermore, she’s not guided by any strong moral fiber or sense of honor. In fact, her only form of conscience or restraint is Adio. Remove that restraint and, well, she scares me.

If I follow the path set before me with Sebille, it would take me down a very dark and destructive path. And as a writer, it is a path that I am both unprepared and a little unwilling to go down. Sure, I could try to redeem Sebille, but the attempts I could think of were so trite and saccharine that I felt myself temporarily slipping into an diabetic coma. Also, I feel that Sebille deserves more respect than that.

But it all comes down to Sebille. The obvious suggestion id to just change the character – tweak her personality and rein her in. By changing Sebille, toning down her personality, I would be completely changing who she is and I think the story would suffer as a result, losing some of its tension. And while I may not agree with her (and she completely scares me), I like Sebille as she is. I like her hard, unyielding edge and her unpredictability.

A second problem in my opinion lies with the concept that the vampires don’t need to drink blood if they stop using their powers. For me, it seemed like it was too easy of an out/escape for them. They keep their beauty and immortality, and no longer had to kill humans for their warm meal. To increase the tension, I would feel the need to up the price – possibly the loss of immortality and a high rate of decay if they didn’t drink blood.

In the end, I think that Adio, Sebille and I just aren’t ready for each other. As a writer, I’m just not where I need to be to handle a character like Sebille as she deserves to be. I wish to able to take a character with what could be described as “evil” tendancies and make her truly sympathetic.

But I’m still growing as a writer. That kind of development in a writer is something I love to watch. I love to watch an author through a series of books, watching their plots, subplots, and characters grow more complex. I’m not ready for Adio and Sebille yet. Maybe in a few years. But I fully expect o return to their dark shadows once again.

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