Friday, 9 April 2010

Recurring Characters

Tea ? Do help yourself. There's milk or lemon. Left-over easter egg, too.

As a writer I often re-use characters. Even if I'm not writing Harold and Jasfoup I regularly use a character over and over, particularly when I write erotica (of which I've placed a novel, a novella and three short stories this year already). It's because I know the characters; I know how they'll react in a given situation.

When I do have a new character I have to write flashes and drabbles for them. Most recently is Madame du Pardo, a psychic with the unfortunate ability of answering questions with the absolute truth. Does the questioner really want to know the man they love will, in six years, cash in their daughters insurance and college fund to pay for his cocaine habit?

What about you? Do you have recurring characters?


Fia said...

Left over Easter egg would go down a treat, thank you.

Love the pics.

I still don't feel I've got to grips with character yet. I'm now trying to find out what makes my tick. I try to ask, if a person had such and such a childhood, how would he behave later in life? A slow process.

A thought provoking question, Leather, thank you:)

Karen said...

I'm off Easter eggs for now, having overindulged!

When I finished my novel there was a temptation to write a sequel because I felt so close to the characters, but I didn't in the end. Tempting though.

I like the idea of a psychic who tells the absolute truth - I'd probably avoid her like mad though :o)

Debs said...

I think I'd better decline the chocolate too as I've had far too much already.

I haven't used any of my characters again, but I do find it hard to say goodbye to them at the end of a book. Maybe I keep going back to re-edit because I want to meet up with them again.

Annieye said...

I haven't reused any of my characters, but it's an interesting idea, Rachel.

Do you find some characters have a stronger personality than others? Two or three of the characters I have created seem to constantly want all the attention and I find it much easier to work out the way they will behave and react than others.

Lane said...

Tea please. Lovely.

I haven't reused a character yet but you've just given me an idea. Thank you:-)

Isn't 'drabble' a great word. And a useful exercise too.

Well done on all your placings this year.

Ellie said...

I think I need IV coffee today...

I'm not sure if my characters recur, but I think I have themes that seem to crop up in everything I write, namely disappearances and facing thigns that have been buried for too long (not usually bodies!). Maybe that's the link between my characters - they've all lost something important and they're trying to find it after ignoring the gap for too long?

Hmm, you've got me pondering!

Chris Stovell said...

Congratulations on the work successes. I think it's definitely time for tea and some left over Easter egg, thank you. I haven't reused characters yet, although I still think of them getting on with their lives somewhere. The trouble is some don't want to leave which makes it hard to shuffle them off stage so I can concentrate on new characters.

HelenMHunt said...

I was considering the idea of reusing my two main characters and making my second novel a sequel to the first, but I'm now having to reconsider the marketability of novel one and one of the implications of that is that I may have to significanty alter the plot which will mean it no longer makes such good sense to have a sequel. It's all a bit of a quandary at the moment. I do like the idea of reusing/revisiting characters though. Very thought-provoking post.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Fia -- I think characters grow with you. Like any relationship, you have to tease the information out of them. Mine still surprise me.

Karen -- I wish I had your strength of will! I have six more Harold & Jasfoups unagented and unsold!

Debs - Good for you. I think writing has enabled me to never stop revisiting characters -- JKR ans CS Lewis did seven books apiece, after all.

Annieeye -- I dod indeed! Harold and Jasfoup -- and Felicia -- hog the limelight while Gillian lurks in the background. I don't know her now, after seven novels.

Lane -- glad to be of service, and thank you!

Ellie -- every character should be in pursuit of something in every scene -- even if it's just a glass of water, so you're doing it right!

Chris -- Thanks. I use the same setting for almost everything I write, so even new characters visit familiar places.

Helen -- probably wise! I wish I had the strength to follow your lead.

JJ Beattie said...

Left over easter eggs? How does that happen? It doesn't happen in our house.

I haven't written enough novels to know but I think that certain traits will always fascinate me. I think I'll always be interested in characters who control and characters who are arrogant.

I love in books like Mary Wesley's that you see characters from her other books having lives - little snippets that mean you can see they go on living. Of course the best books make you feel that about the characters anyway.

Great question Rachel.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Thanks JJ.
I've an erotic novel being published, 'Screaming Yellow' and in it you see Harold and Jasfoup -- just ordinary people, walking past.

JJ Beattie said...

Fantastic! I love it.

Sylvia Phoenix said...

Those characters in the picture look very scary. I think I'd better hide my face behind an Easter egg, if there are any left.

I think there may be differences in opinions about recurring characters, depending on whether the works they appear in are intentionally designed to be connected or not. For example, in a series such as Harry Potter, we expect the characters to recur. I guess we're not talking about that though.

So, should characters reappear in unconnected works? I don't see why not, provided it's done for genuine reasons rather than mistakes or laziness on the part of the author. I enjoy things like that, such as when characters make an unexpected cameo for comedy or other reasons.

What doesn't work for me is when an author re-uses a character's exact name but the personality is different. I read two different Stephen King books (sorry, I can't remember which ones) which featured a character called Alan Pangborn. He seemed to be a different person in each book. Perhaps I should read them again to make sure.

Well done on your placings, LeatherDykeUK. Does that mean they're published? I'm not sure what "placing" means but well done anyway.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Sylvia -- I agree! The only time same name/different character worked was in Michael Moorcock's 'Eternal Champion' series.

'Placed' means 'due to be published but don't ave a release date yet'.

Cathy said...

Congratulations on your acceptances!

I think I have recurring themes rather than characters. Having said that, my novel grew from a story I wrote on one of my OU courses, with the same main characters (just one name change). I like the idea of writing a series of novels or stories with interlinking characters but I'm not sure I'm skilled enough to do that yet, it would be a challenge to keep everything under control and I'm not a great planner.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Cathy, I wish you every success! I'm not a great planner either. There are thousands of storied on my hard drive that will be lost forever just because I don't recall their chronology!

Flowerpot said...

Sorry I'm late here. Getting over flu and brain not in gear. I don't ahve recurring characters but I do have recurring themes. I loved Mary Wesley's way of characters who kept popping up - like Calipso - at various ages. It was like meeting an old friend.

Leatherdykeuk said...

Indeed it is! Kate Atkinson does the same.

Liane Spicer said...

No recurring characters to date, but seriously considering reviving one from the first book since I've had so many people ask me to write her story.

Haven't made up my mind about doing it, though.

Don't want to know ugly truths in advance; it's awful enough when they reveal themselves in their own good time.

Congrats are in order!

Leatherdykeuk said...

Thanks Liane.

Perhaps you should write her in small snippets and see how it goes?

Denise said...

Sorry, running late this week. Too much chocolate has melted my brain...

I haven't re-used a whole character yet, but I've definitely stolen traits from them. These tend to be characters that don't quite work, but I like bits of them and don't want to waste that.

I agree writing characters takes ages, and I seem to have notebooks full of notes, half of which I forget to use! Hopefully it all helps me picture them better when writing.

Well done on the sales.

Leatherdykeuk said...

It a good call, Denyse. Do you notecard them? I always intended to do that, with notes where they appear.

Denise said...

No I don't, but that's a really good idea. I'll try that, thanks.