Last week, K.M. Weiland posted a question on twitter. (If you don’t know who she is, click on this link! She is awesome.)
Honestly, once you get into this writing business, there’s people bouncing around your head all the time. Between the five novels I’ve finished and the probably half dozen that I haven’t, I probably have over one hundred imaginary friends.
But who was my first?
When I think about firsts, I’m not counting the characters I wrote as a kid. Most of them were caricatures, or people with names but no personality. When I think character, I think of someone who’s fully rounded, who jumps off the page and feels real to me.
That character would have to be Kanya.
When I was in high school, I’d tried writing different novels. Each of them crashed and burned at about chapter 4. At that point, I still hadn’t learned the importance of planning and plotting. The importance of actually having a story before starting.
Then one day, I watched Beauty and the Beast with a friend. Beauty and the Beast is one of my absolute favorite fairy tales. It’s a Tale as Old as Time. Although it’s my favorite, there is always a part that I hated. The very end. I never understood why the Beast had to turn handsome in the end. If she loved him the way he was, then isn’t it enough that he’s alive? What’s with all the crazy magic changing his appearance?
For some reason, I kept thinking about it for days afterward, and I realized that there were a few other things that bothered me. For example: I know that Beauty and the Beast are foils of one another, but I hated the fact that he had all of the bad traits while she had all of the good traits. Why does he have to turn ugly because of something bad he did? What if he did something kind and was punished anyway? And why does she have to be so good all the time? What if she ran away after she was forced to take her father’s place? What if she didn’t volunteer?
Over the few weeks that these ‘what ifs’ bounced in my head, Kanya became very real. A girl who was flawed in a very major way. She was beautiful, no doubt, but selfish, rich and naïve. Almost at the same time that she became a true character, so did Anthalor, a king who was disfigured because he tried to save a woman’s life. He’s kind, giving and hideous.
Their story was the first one I’d ever completed. The first one that came to full life.
How about the rest of you? Who was your first character?