Monday, January 12, 2009
Q & A 162
In your weekly writing exercises, you invite your minions to befuddle/bludgeon/blow the character known as Evil Editor. Regular followers of your blog will be familiar with the traits of this terrifying being, and the exercises might work equally well with Batman or Sulu or anyone else whose persona is already well established. Novels are not like this. Novels are new and full of new characters, each of whom must be crafted and presented from scratch. As a discerning editor, what do you look for in a writer's emergent characterisation to help you choose whether to read on or reach for the shredder?
Actually, nowadays novels are like this. Stephanie Plum, Anita Blake . . . James Bond. Come up with a cool main character, and you get to use him/her over and over. In some cases it's not the author we love, it's the character.
As for what I look for in a character, it's someone who's not an idiot, someone who's funny, someone I would love to spend many hours with. In other words, someone like me.
Authors I've edited have, admittedly, been annoyed at times to discover that their main (and other) characters, who were in many ways similar in personality to the authors themselves, turn out to be, in the book's final version, similar in personality to Evil Editor. This may at first glance seem to be a matter of inflated ego, but I consider it a business decision. Readers are clearly less likely to buy a book whose characters are grounded in the life experiences of the author than in those of Evil Editor.
Posted by Evil Editor at 9:23 AM