Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Creating a balanced character


It’s a real opportunity to get a character right.  Normally I don’t write one plot at a time, as I am doing now.  But it is proving rather useful this time.
My main character is being looked after well in England. She has told herself she will make sure she enjoys being English. At times, she does this quite well. But something always comes along to stop her being fully integrated: she misunderstands how the English celebrate Christmas, she worries about what the Germans are doing to her new home or she becomes very aware of how different she is from her friends, not just because she is Jewish, or German, but also because she is not living in a family.
Many chapters finish with a bit of an obstacle: she makes good progress in accepting that she has to become English and something reminds her that she cannot quite be. I’m having to guard against becoming too formulaic. Today’s chapter went the other way to some extent. She is worried that now she is sixteen she is defined as an enemy alien. The local policeman thinks it’s a bit of a joke and is going to take little notice of that rule.
Can we like her enough? Do we feel too much pity for her?  Is she whinging a bit? Or not enough? Another one for the critique group?          

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