Marlee is one of the main characters in Reckless Rescue. She is nineteen years old, and has spent her whole life stranded on a harsh planet, where everyday life is a struggle. Despite this, she is usually pretty positive about life. Why wouldn’t she be? It’s the only life she’s known.
I found her rather difficult to write though, even though her personality is similar to mine in a lot of ways. I wanted to show a character who had a lot of strength and confidence, but who hadn’t learned to trust them yet. She’s confident and shows her true self to her friends and those she’s close to, but as soon as anyone talks her down or yells, she’s suddenly not so confident.
Initially though, I ended up making her seem to nervous and afraid, to the point that my editor was constantly saying that the confident things she was doing were out of character, such as this scene, near the beginning of the novel.
“So, has Marlee told you what we’re planning?” Tyris asked.
“She has.” Nelor sounded more interested now than he had earlier.
“And are you willing to help us out?”
Marlee turned in time to see Nelor’s grin. “You haven’t been around Marlee long enough to know the answer to that. I wouldn’t dare say no to her.” He glanced over at her, giving her a look that was for her alone. She felt a blush stealing over her cheeks and turned away, using the water hissing in the kettle as an excuse to hide her face.
So, instead of turning her into a shrinking mouse (as the editor suggested), I just toned down a few of the scenes, made it more obvious she was sure of herself, in her own thoughts at least. I hope it turned her into the character I intended. I believe so!
It’s really interesting for me to catch a glimpse of your relationship with your editor. I haven’t had to collaborate with anyone (other than family) in the editing of my work and I wonder how I’d get on. I don’t mind criticism if I think it’s fair, but if it challenged something I really believed in – like you with your view of Marlee – I’d probably get defensive, especially if I thought the other person had more writing expertise. Or I’d make all the recommended changes even if I didn’t agree with them. I’m not very confident so find it hard to argue my case. Maybe that’s why I’ve never hired an editor: I need to have more faith in my own writing before I let someone else tear it apart!
It was really really challenging! I had to take nearly a week before I could really come to terms with some of the things that were said, and figure out how to fix them without changing the story from what I’d planned. And a lot of talking to friends and family who knew the story, to figure out if the points were valid or not. There were some I flat out disagreed with (she thought I needed to have the characters use slang when talking, like say wanna. Uh, no. Not going to happen! But overall, it was a positive experience, and I learnt a lot!
In my naive dream world I guessed I would get an agent and trust them to have my best interests (and, more importantly, my novel’s best interests) at heart and so would edit in the spirit of the book. My problem with hiring a freelancer is I don’t know what their agenda is! So tricky. I guess that’s why I persist with the traditional publishing route, although I’m slowly coming round to self-publishing. It’s a long road and I’m always looking for a fast train! 🙂
I’m the opposite. I’m glad that I’m hiring a freelancer, because I don’t feel any obligation to change my book the way they say if I don’t want to. If I was working for a publishing house, I’d be afraid they would insist I do edits, even if I didn’t agree with them.
Sometimes editors don’t see things the way the writer intended. Glad you were able to change it to a way that suited your perspective.
Thanks Susan. Yes, editors (just like readers) can only see what you’ve put in the page. It’s up to you to figure out how to make it the way you want.
Yours definitely sounds like the right way to handle that, Rinelle. A shrinking mouse protagonist is rarely very fun to follow unless she/he goes a change-arc. And besides, you wanted it to just be part of her personality. People tend to be more complex than little boxes of plot.
John at The Bathroom Monologues
I did plan for her to become bolder in defense of what she wanted by the end of the story, but I also wanted the potential of that to be evident in the beginning of the story, it just needed to be developed. But yes, shrinking mouse characters are rarely fun to read! (Though as with anything, I think it’s possible if done well.)
Sounds like you and your editor work well together.
To have their expertise and impartial eye has got to be good.
I’m not sure, actually, that that particular editor was a good fit for me, but I was in a hurry, and she was available! I think you can work with someone who isn’t a perfect fit though, provided you are prepared to look a little deeper.
An impartial eye is important though, because after so many read throughs of a story, you really do miss things.
It’s interesting to see your writing and editing process. She sounds like a likable character. Here’s my M post Practicing how to insert hyperlinks! Thank you for the award nomination. I think I’m going to hold off replying to it until I’ve gotten a better handle on A to Z!
Great hyperlink insertion, and a great M post. I’m loving your series.
No worries on the award, there’s no rush. 🙂
It was very interesting to see the good working relationship you seem to have with your editor. She made suggestions/constructive criticism; you took them and while you didn’t make the exact changes suggested, you were able to better develop your character.
Tales of a Pee Dee Mama
Thanks TaMara. She did make some excellent suggestions, and helped me improve the novel hugely (Though not always in the ways she suggested!).
An interesting post that catches a glimpse of your working methods. As an artist I’m always curious to learn how other painters and draughtsman go about their craft. I’ve met a lot of creative people through blogging and writers seem to inhabit a fascinating, unique world. Thanks for your insight.
Thanks Dan. I love reading posts about how other writers and bloggers work. It has given me so much inspiration over the last year.