The Amazing Adventures
of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey
I am having a hell of a time
getting a couple of my characters to behave the way I want them
to. Louise Layne and Ken Clark were planned from the very
beginning and I thought I understood them pretty well. Now I'm
finally on the chapter [29 — Interview] where they make
their debut and it's just not happening the way I envisioned it.
The whole premise that I had carefully plotted out for them falls
completely flat and they come off as cardboard caricatures.
Not every character has to be
well rounded, to be sure. After all, there are typically a number
of 'bit' players hanging around to provide color and variety or
further some plot element — or just wind up as cannon fodder. If
you spend too much time on minor characters, it bogs down the
narrative. In order to save time and still employ a believable
character in a minor role, it's OK to use something like a cliche
or caricature, since these kinds of shortcuts are familiar to the
reader. Why reinvent the wheel? — as the saying goes. Trying to
get by with this technique for a major character is stale and
It's funny, really. There have
been some major characters who really just wrote themselves, much
to my surprise. Mrs. J is a prime example of someone who was to
have a very minor role and blossomed into something unforeseen
that had the effect of changing my whole plot. It's very spooky,
as I've commented before, and I think we have all experienced this
stange phenomonon at one time or another. It's something that
authors report all the time.
But when a major character
refuses to come to life — then what? Does this mean that I don't
really have as much control over my own story as I think I do?
Then who's writing the fucking story?
In other respects, the chapter
is coming along nicely. In fact, there's a scene that I had
envisioned years ago that simply rocks — I swear to God
it almost made me cry to read it.
glowing through the neighboring windows wanly illuminated the
figure casually drifting in the grey gale just a few feet away.
Her hair flowed wildly
around her, highlights from caught snowflakes glinting like
sequins as it tumbled and tussled. The bitter cold seemed to be
harmless to her, beneath her notice, unable to bite her with its
stinging rebuke. Her cape billowed magnificently, at its own
majestic pace independent of the furious wind, a dramatic
backdrop against which she was gloriously displayed. She was a
study in effortless levitation, heedless of the giddy height and
unfazed by the storm's commotion, anchored to nothingness by her
Man, I am really fucking
proud of the way that turned out — makes me believe I must've
actually learned something about the craft the last year or so.
And some other parts aren't bad, either. Which makes it all the
more frustrating that I can't get these bozos in line.
I need to get wasted, I
suppose, and hallucinate myself into a meeting with them so I can
work this out. I dunno. Gotta do something…
© Patrick Hill, 2000