January 28th, 2011

savannah

Do I Secretly Hate My Characters?

Last night as I was attempting to sleep, I thought I'd sign off on consciousness for the day by spending some time with my new characters on a potential novel called SOULMANCER. I figured I'd follow them about their day, maybe imagine up some interaction, etc.

Then, out of the blue (or black, since it was night), I found myself telling them that they shouldn't expect me to get too cozy with them, since I would never love them as much as I would the characters of NAMELESS.

What, what, what?!

Sitting bolt upright in bed (not really), I realized I had just vocalized an issue that has been bothering me for the past few months as I seriously considered moving on from NAMELESS and working on new projects. Perhaps the reason I'd had so many stories suffer from Sudden Novel Death Syndrome in the last year wasn't due to insufficient pre-plotting, but instead a self-sabotaging, unconscious profession of love for NAMELESS.

September 2010 marked the 7-year anniversary of the day I first started working on NAMELESS. That's SEVEN years with these characters, getting to know them in all their various emotional states. Let's face it: these are my imaginary friends. I know everything about them. Give me a situation and I'll tell you their reactions, instantly. I enjoy them, love them, and never want to let them go.

Turning NAMELESS into a single book from a trilogy means I will get less time with them than I thought. Yes, I still have a few years ahead of me where I will interact with them in edits, then in promotions, and then in releases, but they only get one golden age. My time with them is limited, and that makes me sad.

So when I have new characters cropping up and beginning to sidle closer for the chance to get their story told, I guess I got a little defensive. I didn't WANT to fall in love with other characters. Spending time with them felt like cheating on NAMELESS.

Has anyone ever felt like this? I want to give my stories the love and dedication they deserve, but I don't know if writing a book in 3 months gives me enough time to really get to know and love the characters. I want to write books that connect with people, which means they must connect with me as well. Otherwise the characters end up shallow.

But you don't get years and years in publishing. I want to have a career. A book out every year. Will that mean sacrificing the close relationships I want to have with my characters?