One of the greatest things about being an author is having the freedom to create any character you want to.
If I wanted to, I could combine a Dr Frankenstein character, a Jane Eyre character, with a Doctor Who character to create some crazy kind of fun in a book! The freedom is mine to choose.
However, the ability to tell my characters what to do is not mine. It never has been and it never will be; if my characters have anything to do with it! And they have, I can assure you!
Each one of them has their own personality. Those personalities drive what the characters will and will not do, what they may or may not say, and most importantly where their story takes them.
Yes, I know I'm the author and I can jolly well write what I want to, but you tell them that!!
They won't listen to anybody!
Some of them are funny - note I did not say all of them. Some of them like to think they are funny, but they are not. At all. Ever.
And they can be foolish. Quite often, actually.
Most often they get mad at me for making them do what they don't want to do, so they rebel against me and get themselves into all sorts of trouble. I mean, just look at Wickham and Lydia! All I asked them to do was get their acts together, get on well, and be nice to people. Could they? Could they 'eck!
So, what can I do about it? Absolutely nothing! Nada! Zip! Niente!
If my characters want to behave foolishly, wantonly, and downright murderously, then that is up to them. Who am I to stand in their way if they wish to murder their way through the entire novel?
Thankfully, not all my characters are murderers or philanderers. To be honest, most of them quite likely would enjoy that. But, I have to put my foot down with a firm hand and say no! Enough is enough!
From now on I am the boss... yeah, right!
Seriously, though, as an author, I create characters and, like real people, they have their own set of dreams and desires, likes and dislikes. There are only so many places you can go with them. The mild-mannered sweet heroine of a book cannot, ever, be turned into a murderess - unless, of course, you had already decided on making her a mild-mannered gentlewoman by day and a rakishly wanton highwaywoman by night... that's an interesting thought! ;-)
One of my favourite reviews states that I make the characters leap off the page. I like that. I want, more than anything, for my characters to be real and relatable. After all, if you can't relate to a character in and book, you won't care what happens to them for good or for ill, will you? Heck, I won't even care what happens to them, either, I suspect!
Here is a snippet from chapter 26 of Wickham to illustrate my point.... I cannot, ever, and will not ever, change Mr Darcy's character. He is, and always will be, a perfectly kind gentleman.
Mr Darcy took pains to speak with Lydia that evening, much to her agitation. “Mrs Wickham, please forgive my impertinence, but seeing as we are brother and sister, I wondered if I might enquire as to whether all is well with you. You seem out of sorts.”
If any person other than Mr Darcy asked her such a question, she would not have minded in the least. As it was, she found Mr Darcy highly ill-mannered in his assertion of her being out of sorts. “I beg your pardon, Mr Darcy?” she said testily, arching her eyebrows.
Mr Darcy seemed nonplussed. “I asked if you were well, Mrs Wickham.”
His affability disturbed her. She wanted to hate him as much as Wickham seemed to, but on each occasion they met, he was gentlemanly and kind to her. According to her husband, the man standing before her with a look of pure concern on his face was the means of ruining his future. “I am very well, Mr Darcy. I thank you.”
“And are you quite recovered from the grippe?” His eyes searched her face for she knew not what.
“Quite,” she replied curtly.
“I am heartily glad to hear it.” He smiled and Lydia warned herself not to fall for his kindness, as the rest of her family seemed to have done. “My dear Elizabeth tells me that you would like to visit with us at Pemberley…whilst your husband is away at war.”
She cleared her throat, remembered her manners, and smiled at him. “Yes, if that is amenable to you.”
“Of course it is.” His smile widened and she could see how easily it was to trust this detestable man before her. “We would be delighted to have you and your son to stay with us a while. I believe my sister, Georgiana, whom you know lives with us, too, will enjoy playing with him, I am sure.”
Why is he being so nice to me when he dislikes my husband so? “I am sure that he also will enjoy all the attention.”
Mr Darcy laughed. It was a laugh that melted the hatred she felt for him a little more than she was comfortable with. She rebuked herself inwardly for such foolishness. Do you not realise he is drawing you in? He is trying to make you like him, and then he and all those who believe his lies about Wickham will work to convince you to think as ill of him as they do! Her thoughts brought a lump to her throat.
“Truly, are you well?” he asked.
Embarrassed that he saw her inner struggle, she shrugged it off. “Yes, quite well.” She decided to press him. “It is merely the thought of enjoying ourselves while dear Wickham is in some foreign land fighting…” The tears fell down her cheeks, and she was pleased to see that her ability for producing crocodile tears was still as strong as ever.
“Calm yourself.” She thought he, at least, had the good grace to frown and look discomfited. “It will do you more harm than you can imagine to fret about such things.” Mr Darcy did something then that truly eroded her hatred for him further. He reached into his pocket, withdrew his handkerchief, and offered it to her. “Here, take this and dry your eyes, sister. War cannot be avoided, and we know the tyrant must be stopped. However, you may take comfort in the fact that your husband is doing the country a great service. I believe all men who fight for freedom are heroes, are they not?”
There, he had accomplished his aim, she felt. Lydia looked up at him through her tear-soaked lashes and saw him differently. He was encouraging her to see Wickham as a hero, when he was the one person she never ever thought would say anything positive in connection to her husband. “Yes, I suppose you are right, Mr Darcy. I did not think of that before.” She smiled despite of herself. “Indeed, my Wickham is a hero.”
Mr Darcy bowed slightly. “Then we will see you happy at Pemberley, I am certain.”
Lydia watched as he turned away back to his wife, who also smiled at Lydia. Is it kindness, or do they pity me? She could not fathom why they would be kind after the majority of her own family had disparaged her husband so cruelly in her hearing. Yet, the evidence before her very eyes was of a kindness she never thought to see. © 2014 Karen Aminadra
Mr Darcy is always politeness personified. Mr Wickham is always a rake. Lydia is always flighty. No matter what I cannot change them, neither would I want to. However, as we read in the passage above, Mr Darcy's personality has an effect on Lydia's. This is always fun to see play out in a novel!
One of the great things I can do as an author is to create new characters. I have thoroughly enjoyed doing that while writing The Emberton Brothers series and really hope to bring you news of book 1 The Spice Bride soon!
I have so many stories within me to tell. I can't wait to see where my characters take us!
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