Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More on Wind Voyagers

The role of the main heroic main character seems simple enough. S/He has a duty or a goal and s/he suffers trials until s/he finally reaches her/his goal. S/He's usually single-minded. But s/he's also usually competent. Would you want to be on Lisabet Salander's bad side? Sure, you could hurt her, but she'd come back at you with a vengeance. Harry Potter was incredibly competent in his role. If he lacked a skill or information, he found someone who had it and made them an ally, or he went to the library and looked it up.

Unfortunately, Elek, my main character, wasn't competent. I only have myself to blame for this, but I put him into a situation that was way over his head. He had no skills to fall back on. It's was like teaching someone to swim by dropping them into the deep end of the pool without floaties. It turns out that naive but not stupid is a fine line for a writer to walk with a character. Last year at Saints and Sinners I asked Jim Grimsley in a master class if he had any tips for writing a character like that. All he said was, "It's going to be difficult." He was right.

So my huge thanks to Nan and Diane, and especially Kelley, for challenging me every time I made poor Elek look stupid rather than naive. For such a simple seeming character, he sure was hard to write - harder than almost any other character I've created.