Sunday, May 06, 2007

Death of a character

No, not that kind of death. Nobody gets killed in Hal Spacejock books. They just disappear in a mysterious fashion.

When I submitted the Hal 4 outline to my editor, one of the minor characters was a gruff desk sergeant, semi-retired. You know the type - worldly wise, unflappable, full of useful information and a father figure and guiding light to one of the major characters. He was Roger Murtaugh to Martin Riggs, William of Baskerville to Adso of Melk, and any one of those countless wise older hands which populate books and movies.

In other words, the perfect example of a cliche character.

So there I was last night, writing the scene where my major character returns to HQ and encounters good old Ted, sergeant cliche of the movie tropes squad. And I didn't want to write him in. I just couldn't do it. So, I gave up and played NFS Underground 2 against my kids until the game crashed. (For that I have to thank EA, Intel Dual Core, Microsoft Windows XP and Nvidia.)

Anyway, around 1am I found myself mulling over the Ted problem. The lights were off, the house was quiet and I was supposed to be going to sleep, but I never let minor challenges like oncoming unconsciousness distract me. Instead of coming up with a replacement for Ted I decided I'd introduce a third character, an original one which would be great fun to write. I ran a few conversations in my head, and my new creation held up just fine. A few minutes later I realised this new character had already supplanted staid old Ted: everything Ted could possibly bring to the plot this new character could do better, and with laughs to boot.

So long Ted, and may you live on in Hollywood buddy movies.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

1 comment:

Julia Buckley said...

Oooh brave.