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Today I want to start on a rough outline of my antagonist. In so doing it has prompted me to think about the nature of evil in literature and other media. I thought back with a smile to the handlebar twiddling character of Dick Dastardly from Hanna Barbara’s ‘Wacky Races’ in the 60s. Sure the character was successful enough to get his own spin off series, ‘Dastardly and Muttley in their Flying Machines’ when all the other racing cars had been sold off at auctions. But evil? Terrifying? No! Along with millions of others I found his antics laughable. He was an animated pantomime villain and we know that they are as scary as party balloons.

Cruella Deville had more promise. She started off well then somehow became laughable near the end of Disney’s ‘101 Dalmatians’. I think the reason for this was that she became more and more outwardly evil as she went along until, by the end, she was as much a panto villain as Dastardly himself. What a couple they would’ve made…although I don;t think Muttley would have lasted long do you?

Image‘Eve tempted by the serpent’ by William Blake

True evil is first written about in the Bible. The serpent in Eden is not demonstrative. Never angry or obviously evil. It befriends Eve and coaxes her to work against her better judgement or conscience. Maybe my evil character has to be forever in the background causing terrible events and yet outwardly good, kind, persuasive and beautiful.

Then I thought of the idea of having two such female characters so that the reader is placed in the same position as the protagonists for a while at least, unsure as to which character is causing this, A, B or maybe even both working together.

This would mean that in the middle of my story there was a whodunnit and that appealed to me.

At the moment I feel that I am making a jigsaw, and even then only some key pieces. But each piece I make causes me to want to see the whole picture more.

Character-Development-C

Okay, so today I felt that I needed to ‘get my hands dirty’ so to speak and begin to use Scrivener properly for the first time.I booted up the program and began with the character section because I have had two characters in mind for some time now. They are both protagonists and will work together in the roles of mentor and student.

I then went to google and ran a search of all likely characters to be given a massive range of images from which to chose from. I did not really want a complete image of my characters but rather pictures that would illustrate an aspect of their appearance. After a fruitful harvesting of images I then began to narrow them down to about three and load them into the research section of Scrivener, taking care to label each carefully i.e. protagonist 1’s hood and cloak. or hairstyle.. I even happened across a perfect setting picture of a forest which I imported and used as my desktop wallpaper too by way of inspiration.

Next I began to flesh out the two protagonists in my character section, adding their pictures and details about them, all suggested by Scrivener. Soon I was finding myself being drawn into the character’s backstory. An immediate consequence of this was that some initial, rough ideas could be thrown away at once as the characters would not relate in that way due to their backgrounds and manner. As a newbie writer it was exciting to feel a character begin to show signs of life in this way. It is certainly a moment I will not forget.

The end result was that my secondary protagonist, the mentor, had a much richer backstory and so was the stronger, more believable character. The main protagonist looked two-dimensional in contrast until I happened across a third character, now dead. As soon as I realised this character needde to have existed in protagonist 1’s life, I found a whole new backstory begin to emerge, each jigsaw piece posing questions that lead to further depth and more questions.

The final piece of work I did today was to import my setting picture into the settings section and flesh it out with some ideas, with particular reference to Protagonist 2 whose environment it is. Next I want to look at the antagonist and her main setting. I know that when I do, there will be alterations needed to the work done today and that is easy to do with Scrivener.

In fact, throughout all of today’s work, I found Scrivener clean and efficient. Now I can’t wait for tomorrow.

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Over the past few days I have watched a lot of authors talking about where best to make a start with a story or novel. All have had differences and it has been these differences that have proved enriching. You see, it is clear to me that all writers need to approach this in a way that will suit them (hence the differences).

I remember reading that C.S.Lewis often said that he had an image in his mind long before any concept of Narnia ever surfaced. It was of a fawn carrying an umbrella and meeting up with a little girl in a snow-coated wood.  It is easy to see how such an idea would endure and appeal. Consider the many possibilities, only one of which was ever explored in ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ so many years later by Lewis himself.

I am not suggesting all writers should have a fawn in their story but I do think that ‘the fawn factor’ has a lot to offer. Namely, to start with a key image or scene that may already be written in one’s head in some detail. This would give the writer the tone for the entire story and help make a start on characters and setting. The outline would generate from this one scene that is so vivid. It could even be that in the end the ‘faun scene’ is removed from the story altogether but it has done its job and served to stimulate the writer to create more.

Just as with music, writing needs a tone, a timbre…ranging from light hearted, even flippant to more serious. Perhaps ‘the fawn factor’ would help the writer realise the tone needed more easily.

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