Writers Life

When a character “comes out”


All writers know that sometimes our characters have a mind of their own. It’s scary to our relatives and friends, but we understand. In the first rough draft of my novel, my protagonist’s best friend was a female. I tried every way to make her appealing. When that didn’t work I made her sassy. That was a failure too, and she just became kind of, well…boring.

My female lead is not a weak character, but she needed a strong, no-nonsense best friend to guide her through a difficult time. Someone who wasn’t afraid to say “bullshit” and firmly but gently steer her in the right direction. Hopefully into the arms of the man who would come to love her. It wasn’t happening. In spite of my hammering away at my keyboard, all she wanted to do was drink coffee and be morose. So, I decided, who needs you? I un-pinned her from the character board and pondered my next move. Who was going to take her place? I pondered some more. Maybe it shouldn’t be a female best friend. I didn’t really want another male presence in her life, though,  besides her love interest. He was a very strong character who could possibly make another male seem inadequate.

I stood up and looked out the window. The rain had just stopped and the sun was shining through the slowly retreating clouds, leaving behind a brilliant rainbow. The gentle colors washing the firmament above me were like a flash of lightning. Of course, her best friend could be a male character…a gay male character.

I was worried at first about my writing having an underlying LGBT plot. I didn’t want to insult anyone with what, I must admit, is a lack of knowledge concerning that lifestyle. I have friends and co-workers who are gay, who are a wonderful part of my life, so I figured I would model him on them. What happened was a surprise. I fell in love with him. His role in this book is minor, but important. I gave him a partner, it added a little conflict to the novel as he struggled with his parents’ reaction to his decisions. I felt for him in a way that told me, in real life, we all have our struggles. I had to write him like any other character with an alternative world view, and heaven knows, with varied cultures, witches, and sorcerers abounding in my work, alternative world views were everywhere.

Luckily and somewhat ironically I think, my first character, the female best friend,  was named Samantha. So, I only had to change the name to Sam and make sure all my pronouns to the point where I stopped writing her, matched up. Quick fix that told me maybe I knew all along what I wanted this character to be and that was the reason she fought me tooth and nail.

Bottom line: Listen to every character you write. He/She may be trying to tell you something.

Note: My debut novel: “Vykup” soon to be published




2 thoughts on “When a character “comes out”

    • Thank you. I sometimes wonder if she will show up again, I had high hopes for her. But, seriously, it is amazing when our characters come to life, it gives me hope they will be life-like and real to readers.

      Liked by 1 person

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