And Just Who Are You Again?

I’ve been writing this novel. I know, you say, you’re always writing a novel.

Fair enough.

So, I’ve been writing this novel. 🙂 This novel is the first novel of the Klarion cycle. This book is supposed to tell the all important story of the sister that goes bad, and how that sister sticks around through a number of books being an enemy of the family, which is supposed to be basically good.

Sounds pretty darned formulaic so far.

I started along those lines, and I did some thinking and writing and plotting and rewriting, and I discovered that the characters had their own ideas about who was bad and who was good and who was the real problem. The characters have become complicated, multi-faceted, and well, problematic in a good way.

In the past couple of years, I have converted from being a pantser to being a plotter, but one of the things that I can never change is the journey of discovery regarding the characters. As I write, I find that the characters reveal themselves. When I started this book, for example, Octavia, the oldest sister, was a perfect young woman in love with the boy she was destined to marry from childhood, and in the end screwed by her younger sister’s mistakes.

And now? Octavia doesn’t get along with the man she had to marry, feels responsible for her family’s problems, suspects that she will have to murder her less than perfect sister when she inevitably fails, is vain, spoiled, somewhat attracted to her demon familiar, and believes that if she’s going to have all this responsibility on her shoulders, why didn’t she get to partner with the cooler, stronger demon?

This Octavia? She hasn’t become the villain. She has to still be, in the end, a “good guy,” but frankly, I like the “villain” character of the piece more.

That would be Lucy, who is a little person saddled with Ra as a familiar. Painfully shy and in her sister’s shadow, Lucy has accepted the family mythology that during the inevitable trial between her and Ra on Lucy’s sixteenth birthday, Lucy will lose, and the family will have no choice but to kill her. Lucy’s solution is to kill herself first and save them the trouble. That doesn’t work out, so Lucy thinks outside the box. Why not dissolve the partnership with Ra? Can she find a way to do it?

This becomes a battle of tradition versus innovation. And yes, Lucy is still destined to be a problem. But the romantic lead of the piece? The husband? Which sister does he like more? And how do I move these two characters back toward their more plot oriented roles as the books (2) progress? Well, I know that, and you don’t, and in around 3 years, maybe you will.

But the coolest thing about all this is how characters take on their own aspects. Many authors do not like that idea. I know that characters come from inside, and I do all the work. So, if you ascribe to that school of thought, I like my subconscious for all the twists it delivers. I prefer to enjoy my characters as surprises. They are the most important engine for plot, and well thought through scenes doing what those characters want to do is to me, the most enjoyable kind of story to read and write.

Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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