In my previous post I wrote about how my inspiration to keep writing my novel came from the love of my main character. So, how did she come to life? Orabelle began to breathe in those first few pages, as I began with a description and an image in my mind of the person I wanted her to be. Imperfect, flawed, strong, brave, stubborn, temperamental, loving, loyal, impetuous, unique, powerful, empathetic, both selfish and selfless. These were all pieces of who she became, little building blocks that I used to start putting together a person. I personally love a character with depth. The actions of a person are the results of their cumulative experiences and emotions. I want to know not only who they are, but why they are that person. What happened to them to make them that way? How did the events of their life shape their personality, how did it make them feel? These are the things that I can relate to.
In the first chapter of Orabelle we have several flashbacks where she reflects upon events from her past. These were significant moments that changed the course of her life and helped to create the woman she has become. It would be easy to say that she is in love with Tal, but in the scene where she first meets him, I wanted to show you why. She is young and impetuous and rebellious. Her relationship with her father is strained and abusive. She finds Tal to be heroic, even though we know that in that situation she did not actually need saving. It is the symbolism of the act that endears him to her. She is the most powerful Keeper on Imbria, but with him she feels that there is finally someone who will look after her, a feeling that was severely lacking in her family life. Her mother was dying slowly, her sister was young and naïve, and her father was a jerk. She had to look after herself from a young age, with a burden of responsibility that was extremely heavy. When we understand where she is coming from, and how deeply it has affected her, we can then understand and appreciate the bond that formed immediately between her and Tal.
This was something I tried to do with all my characters. I asked myself questions like, what was their motivation and where did it come from? With Blaise, he is ambitious, so what happened to him that created that desire in him? For Damian the question was, why is he noble? What was it about the life and customs of the Tahitians that inspired their sense of nobility and justice? I made charts with post-its of their character traits and significant events that happened to make them that way. I spent many a night having a glass of wine with my mom and discussing what makes people behave the way they do. This was probably one of the best parts about writing this novel for me. I loved the character discussions with my mom. Often times we think we know best and we get stuck in the idea that we need to convey our own point of view and our opinion, but there is a world of experience and emotions and ideas that other people have that can be so valuable and interesting if we take the time to listen.