Insistent Characters

First of all, forgive me; it’s not that I intentionally neglected this place for two weeks. It’s not that I actually expect forgiveness, of course. Don’t you just love figures of speech? Anyway, I don’t have much of an explanation for the lack of updates, other than I really didn’t have much to say.

So now let me get down to it. Now, I have discovered, I have much more to say than I initially thought I did. One of my favorite parts of the writing process is designing characters; I wouldn’t call it inherent, but I will say it is something I have always enjoyed, much like a child who creates imaginary friends and thus refuses to grow up. Now, however, these friends take form within a world, within a narrative, and they suffer from all the ills that humanity is used to. Now, the characters become somewhat less imaginary, and begin to exist on the page as though they have always existed.

Sometimes, however, a particular character whose piece has long since been put to sleep, refuses to go. This is paraphrased, to an extent, in Bret Easton Ellis’ Lunar Park, but I am reluctant to call my experience with this a haunting, because it is not. It’s more to do with a character who is dissatisfied with her post; who deserves far more credit than she has received, and she knows it. Being the character she is, she wants an entire story devoted to her, and she’s going to get it.

Already, I have made the effort to place her in a short story (Girl Talk) in which I, unknowingly, did something akin to Ellis’ eventual manner of dealing with the Bateman-esque spectre. This was a mistake. She will not forgive me for it until such a mistake is rectified.

Jannah, herself, was actually one of the few characters I have written who insisted upon this, although it does seem to be a common trait in anyone I have placed in Where Jackals Lie. Maybe it is because I feel dissatisfied with the way the story turned out, and am looking for a way to re-vamp it without entirely re-hashing it. Of all the characters in that story, though, Jannah was the one who enticed me most; and, in a fit of resolution, refused to give such attention out of fear that she would detract from Bryson’s limelight. The fact remained, however, that she was simply a more interesting character, and having started her story, I have come to terms with the fact that she comes across effortlessly; that the events in her world come more naturally than I expected them to. Instead of her being the unreasonable, cruel and eventually, one-dimensional antagonist, she has become human, not just a prop, a driving force for Bryson’s misfortunes.

So, given the context of her first appearance,  it would be so easy for this to take a similar track. Yet, and I say this with caution as I have only just started working on it, there is something far more real and honest that comes across with her, that I have been unable to achieve in the past. Before, given both my age and the nature of my writing, it was all too easy for my work to come across as slightly hyperbolic in nature, unrealistic, a kind of hyper-reality that was born of a childhood immersed in anime and manga. Teen years that branched out to graphic novels and video games. Now, edging towards my twenties, my tastes have changed (though not digressed entirely) dramatically, and in a way, my work is forced to reflect this. Yet, I think this still has everything to do with Jannah. Her reasons for cruelty, for socially unacceptable behavior, for materialistic urges that border on the insane and for her capricious nature are, incidentally, all symptoms of brewing personality disorders, and also born not of any unrealistic trauma, but simply rooted in her childhood (as so many are). They are not the result of biological warfare, or any kind of trauma too far removed from what the average child may or may not go through.

But all of this would not stand if I did not have a desire to return to the character myself. While I feel that, to an extent, she is forcing my hand (yes, that sounds insane and yes, I am aware of it) I also feel that this is the only viable way for me to go, right now. A character I have become somewhat comfortable with, in spite of the fact that she almost inspires discomfort, means that I can now take the chance to observe the goings on around her, rather than, as seems to be a recurring fault of mine, taking the entire novel to get to know the character for myself.

In short, I’m enjoying this outing perhaps more than I should, given that it is yet another attempt at exploring human indecency.


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