Character development

I’ve written many novels and have in the past always resisting writing a sequel, even though some readers pressed me to do so. I wanted those stories to be complete in themselves, and the future of the characters to be open for people to imagine, although I had a clear idea myself where they would go and what they would do. In most of my stories,  after the novel’s end the narrative was less interesting; the crises which had made the stories exciting or compelling, were resolved and my people could settle down to live calmer and less fraught lives.

I think I was also a little daunted at the thought; how could I write a sequel without giving away exciting details of the first novel? How could I avoid spoiling what happened in the first novel for any readers who came to it having read the sequel already? I did sometimes write part of a sequel just for my own amusement, so I had an idea of where the people went, and usually it was quite domestic, and actually as uninteresting as most real lives.

However, when I wrote ‘Radwinter’, which was intended as a stand-alone novel, although it had a proper and complete ending, with all the intriguing little mysteries about the main character, Thomas’s family history answered, I found that I was for the first time seriously thinking about writing a sequel. The first novel had been about a genealogical search for a paternal line, but there was the Thomas’s mother’s side of the family which was unknown… so ‘Magick’ was written, about the Magick family. To my even greater surprise, I found the story continued, as the lives of the character’s parents were explored, and something of a horror story emerged in ‘Raddy and Syl’. Now I am writing a fourth part… a lost parent, mystery flowers on a grave,  a man in thrall to a sect, a woman married to a dangerous Georgian gangster…

Last night I reread the first novel, when I, as the writer, was getting to know Thomas. He is a man in his early thirties, married for ten years, and working in a rather boring job… He is a submissive, anxious, and fearful character, but by the end of the novel his life has changed in a way he never anticipated and he has begun to emerge from his shell. There were little things I had forgotten about him such as his anxiety often leading to asthma attacks; now in the fourth part he no longer carries his inhaler about and his mental as well as physical strength has so improved that it is no longer a problem. He has always been funny, but in the past he feared people were laughing at him, now he can be funny on purpose and is confident with laughter all around him. His personal circumstances have changed completely… and rereading Radwinter I realised just how completely his life and world is different.

If I had started off with the idea of writing a sequence of novels, I think I would have tried to plan these changes and developments, i would have tried to map out how Thomas’s personality emerged from its shell and how he became the man he really is rather than the insecure boy he used to be.

“Where is he?” Paul asked. “Where’s that little mouse who used to dither in the hall not daring to come into my kitchen? Where’s that frightened and unhappy little boy?”

“Still here,” I replied after a moment. “He’s just got a bit braver and much happier, that’s all, I’m the same me.”

It isn’t just Thomas, the main character, however. Other characters, his family, his brothers, they have changed, and in this present novel, the men who were so secure in themselves, the rocks upon whom others depended, are struggling as they have to face the truths about themselves which were hidden until the family history was revealed. I think this fourth part of the Radwinter narrative will be the last… but who knows There is still an unknown brother and an unknown mother somewhere, the family is about to change in a happy but unimaginable way, and I have an idea of some dear friends of Thomas finding a grave in their new back garden as they clear away the neglected undergrowth…

I chose my featured image because somehow the Radwinter stories are like water flowing, I filled up a bucket called Radwinter, but it began to oveflow and it went into another bucket called Magick… then Raddy and Syl… now who knows… Maybe ‘The Last House’?!

If you haven’t read any of my ebooks, here is a link:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

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