aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Torturing my characters

When I'm writing a book, I find myself wanting to keep my characters safe from pain or even mild discomfort.

I don't let that stop me.

If I think of something my character would really not want to have happen to them or her - then I do it. I go ahead. See how they react.

In A Spot of Bother, Jamie decides to visit his sister Katie. (He's gay and they are both upper class. Jamie's whole family looks down on her new boyfriend, Ray, who never went to university, and who has, Jamie has said in the past, "strangler's hands." And Ray's obviously not comfortable around gays.)

Jamie thinks, "Half past two. They'd have the rest of the afternoon before Ray got home. Tea. Chat. Piggybacks and airplanes for Jacob [Katie's son from a previous marriage]. If they were lucky he'd take a nap and they couuld have a decent talk.

"He walked up the path and rang the bell.

"The door opened and he found the hallway blocked by Ray wearing paint-spattered overalls and holding some kind of electric drill.

"'So that's the two of us taking the day off," say Ray."

Katie is out shopping and Jamie ends up having to make small talk with Ray. Then, to make matters worse, Ray says,

"'Glad you came.' Ray put the drill down and washed his hands. 'Something I wanted to ask you.'

"A horrifying image came to mind of Ray patiently soaking up the hate waves over the past eight months, waiting for the moment when he and Jamie were finally alone together.

"He put the kettle on, leant against the sink, pushed his hands deep into his trouser pockets and stared at the floor. "Do you reckon I should marry Katie?"
Now Jamie's even more uncomfortable. But the scene that follows reveals a lot about the two men.

I'm going to be thinking all day about how I can what would make my character uncomfortable, unhappy, angry, sad, overjoyed, etc. - and how those situations might be turned into scenes.

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