Kate Allan

The online diary of Kate Allan, author

Friday, February 25, 2005

As I was eating my supper...

... of reheated leftovers (actually chicken in a home-made chargrilled red pepper sauce) it came to me that my leading protagonist in BIRDS, Petra, is given a copy of Country Life magazine (most probably by her brother) and reacts very badly to it.

I felt her shock, and unwillingness to engage with an object that evoked in her mind problems she did not want to have to face. She turns away to try and stop it forming an impression on her mind. She will not even touch it.

I'm pleased to have discovered this vignette, and think I know where it's going to go in the story.

But I'm more pleased that I was able to immediately understand Petra's reactions and be in her shoes. I'm getting under her skin now properly and she's coming alive.

I'm wondering, how do characters change from being cardboard to being real?

I dislike commiting things to paper until I have to, so there is a lot of churning going on in my head it's difficult to retrospectively define. But I guess its like meeting a new person in real life. At first you notice the obvious things - what they look like, how they speak, and walk. Their manner. Are they warm? Shy? Confident?
And then, as you speak to them, or hear others speak of them, and see how they react to all around them, you start to learn more about them - towards the answer to the question, 'what makes them tick?'
Eventually - if you get this far - it's double gin and tonics late into the night, and they bear their soul and childhood scars.


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