Sunday, 10 June 2012

Creating Extreme Characters that look Real

Many readers want to identify with the characters they read about in fiction. They want them to be real enough to their own world. But it sometimes happens in fiction, that what is truly real, seems too fictitious to be fiction. For fiction to seem real, most of the time it needs to not be so real....for some readers, and some genres.

Sometimes the writer wants to take the reader to a dimension beyond what is real in a normal, average world, yet within the realms of reality. i.e. not science fiction or fantasy fiction.

The writer will create characters with extreme behaviours which will seem unbelievable to some. Maybe the character is mentally ill, but not yet diagnosed, and the writer makes no mention of a diagnosis, because it is not part of the plot. Remember, this is also true to life. There are many mentally ill that walk amongst the normal people in the world. Because of this the reader should be prepared to be taken on a journey beyond their own experience, in order to experience the thrill of another person's mind - the writer's mind, and the character's mind. But first the writer must prepare the reader in the first chapters.

Often writers will take such characters from real life, examine their characteristics, their motives, and  behaviours, and imagine them at work in the real world, then transport them into their work of fiction. 

I feel that to make these characters real, they must be transported as a whole person, ready made, into the  fictitious world we've created. But first we must examine their motivations and how they would react given each situation in this world. To the reader, it must all seem viable. So the world around them must be real, and one identifiable by the reader. That way, the reader is grounded in the real world while the unstable eccentric character plays his part. The reader then sees him clearly for what he is, psychotic or extreme, mentally ill, or clown. He plays his part against the backdrop of a world that is real enough for the reader to identify with. 

Creating real but extreme characters is not easy. And requires close scrutiny into the mind of the type. The more complex, the more difficult to make it real. So some aspect of the situation has to be normal and easily identifiable with. That, I suggest, has to be the world he is in.

Saturday, 9 June 2012


Yesterday, David Cameron announced that Forced Marriages in Britain would become a criminal offence.

This is due to the large number of forced marriages by some parents in the UK who still regard the custom of arranging a marriage for their children, as part of their parental responsibility. And they will do whatever they can to fulfil that duty. It often results in horrific situations of forced marriages that have devastating endings to very young girls as young as 5 years old. If a girl resists, it is likely that she will could come to physical harm and death in some cases.

My novel The Jeweller's Daughter, set in 1918 Trinidad, has Arranged Marriage as one of its themes. Arranged marriages can turn into forced ones, and my Main Character, ten year old Latchmin, has to deal with a similar situation. Without prior discussion, she has been informed by her parents that they have arranged a marriage for her with a boy whom she has never met. This is the first she is hearing of the arrangement, and she is devastated. Especially as her mother previously encouraged her education. Unlike many other girls her age at that time, Latchmin wants to continue school for the foreseeable future. She has been told by the Headmaster that she is bright enough to go into the Teaching profession. So she has her heart set on that. Now she must find a way out of the marriage. But at 10, she is too young to fight on her own.

What a different situation it would have been if the British Government had made that rule at that time for the Empire! That Forced Marriages were a criminal offence. How times change! How social expectations and lobbying forces manage to make change! Instead, Hindu marriages in Trinidad at that time, simply were not recognised. So children born from a Hindu marriage were deemed "illegitimate" on their birth certificate.

Thursday, 7 June 2012


So much of the Western World is certain that there is no God. Their evidence? That God is no where to be seen. But that is just the same as their belief that God cannot be seen. That too is invisible....there is no evidence that there is no God.

But those who believe that a higher, stronger being is present, do it through faith and evidence that cannot be seen by those unable to see.

We all need to recharge our batteries, strengthen our spirits, and connect with THAT being who none of us can see. I will call that being God. Others might call it/him something else.

Over the Jubilee weekend, my family and I spent it amongst over three hundred people who all have some belief that there is a God. That experience is strengthening. It provided food for the spirit. It is the fuel that drives and keeps us able to cope on a daily basis. But more importantly, it gives us the strength and ability to cope with negativity around us and in the world. It gives us the edge. Or more of a wide ledge where we are safe from the precipice where others slip and fall. Where our adversaries tumble.

Spiritual food helps us to approach our creator, and ask for guidance and wisdom to deal with those who persecute us. Spiritual food translates into both physical and emotional strength.

Spiritual food gives us hope.

Hope is how we survive.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Birthday Thoughts on Time

Well is today my birthday, and another day for celebrating a big birthday - NOT one ending in zero, but big enough. Because any birthday past 40 is big enough to have an informed opinion ;) It isn't that long ago I remembered having over 100 people at my house to celebrate my 40th birthday. And that was nearly 2 decades ago. Though it seems like yesterday.

Time supposedly does a lot of things.... It flies; it doesn't stand still; it's a great healer; stands for no man; is money; is of the essence ....etc etc.

I have had a lot of time to think about Time. And whilst much of the above sayings and proverbs might be  true, it cannot be true in its entirety.

We cannot rely on time to fix things, heal us by itself, decide for us. Time does not do miracles. Nor does it have hands to do, feet to go, or a brain to think. To achieve anything, big or small, we have to play an active part in the process.

Take the saying - Time is a great healer....

Nothing happens in the healing process of its own accord. We must take the steps ourselves. We must use the time we have to actively reach the goal where healing can happen.

Time does not heal. It only facilitates.

When we do not use the time wisely, or make the right efforts to reach the goal of healing, we will not reap the benefits. When time has lapsed, it may be too late.

Sometimes, just reaching out to others at the right time is all that is needed. We will find that others are not so bad at reaching out to us half way too. It makes connection with others easier and more satisfactory. And we would have played our part in the process, which is vital to our own growth and maturity in wisdom.

Because time flies, we will look back inevitably, and wonder, what have we achieved? How have we used our time? We may have done a lot, or not enough. And maybe, we will be full of regrets. Too late, if we've  misused or wiled the time away. Or not actively sought what we should do with our time.

So often we forget that we are not in  control of what length of time we actually have on this earth.
That is a fact. Like it or not. We are only here for as long as we are allowed to be on the earth.

That is why we should make the most of our time, and not waste the most precious resource we have available to us.

It is never too late to start.