Is it me, or are characters are not behaving properly nowadays?
By this I don’t mean loose morals, heavy sex, betrayal and murder. That’s been going on for centuries. I mean jumping out of books or TV shows within a book—not staying put in their storyline .
In 1969 John Fowler wrote The French Lieutenant’s Woman and offered up three different endings—reader’s choice. I hated that. For me, what had been a rich believable story got flattened into fiction when the ending became optional.
Now John Scalzi’s wins the Hugo for…spoiler alert…Redshirts, a story in which the protagonists discover they are merely characters in a TV show whose lives are manipulated by the writer. A parody on Star Trek, anyone found wearing a redshirt on an away mission should count himself in grave peril.
So the main characters hie off to Hollywood to take back control of their scenes, er, lives. For me, the book got a little silly.
Now this week I read the Eyre Affair and ran into a similar theme—but this time it had a lot of silly in it.
Thursday Next is a member of Special Operatives in literary detection known as SpecOps. She’s like FBI for literature. The story takes place in a surreal future in Great Britain where time travel is routine and cloning commonplace, although the big cloning feature are pet Dodoes. Of course, Thursday has one. Naming the main character Thursday Next should have been the first big giveaway.
In the story, literature is taken extremely seriously, and forging Byronic verse is considered a felony. A continuing argument is who really authored the Shakespearean plays, and audiences participate in certain well-known theater productions, such as Hamlet. Thursday’s aunt Polly actually gets lost in Wadsworth I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud, and the big bad corporate villain searching for the ultimate weapon is named Jack Schitt, no shit.
Thursday Next is called in when the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewitt is stolen and a character is rewritten throughout every subsequent copy. Archeron Hades is the main villain out to extort money and mayhem by threatening to change famous literature. Thursday confronts him during a robbery, but he gets away.
As you might guess, Jane Eyre becomes a target, and Thursday Next finds herself trapped in the story, trying to track down Hades and his accomplice, Felix. Felix gets killed a lot, but keeps wearing the same old face on new bodies. Meanwhile, there is a side romance that rather parallels pieces of Jane Eyre involving Thursday and her ex-boyfriend.
Okay, so you have a taste of the zany story where characters, such as Mr. Rochester, step out of the story to help Thursday while the narrative is elsewhere in the original manuscript.
There are readers who love this chaos, so I am mentioning the book for them, but I’m more of a traditionalist and want my characters to remain in their stories. I struggled through this one.
As a writer, I must admit that my characters often take unexpected turns and sometimes grow bigger than called for in my original plot. There is an organic quality to my writing, although I outline ahead of time and know what my ending is going to look like. But everyone stays in the story. No one walks through my office door and demands a rewrite.
Do you control your characters or do they run lose throughout your story?
If you need help, and who doesn’t, Jay Lee, runs the Choosy Bookworm and has forty websites that he recommends. Several I have already mentioned in previous blogs, but they are worth mentioning again.
If you’re new to the game, hbpublications has a comprehensive blog on book launching marketing methods that might offer some helpful ideas.
My new banner is of the deepest image ever in the universe. The Hubble Telescope took a totally dark spot in space and pointed its telescope there for an extended period of time. Thousands of galaxies we had never noticed appeared.
Makes you think.
Enjoy your spring.