So, I haven’t talked a lot about it, and I’ve been told I should probably start talking about the next book in the Oregon Series. I believe that characters are the most vitally important part of a story. Without good characters the plot, writing style, and scene descriptions mean nothing. Mine are no different and perhaps that’s one of the things readers have told me they enjoyed the most about my stories are the characters.
In Voices, the main character is a young woman named, Zoe. When I first came up with the story ideas and characters about 3 years ago now, I had one vision for Zoe. I had one vision of who and how she would be. One vision of what she would be about and what she would be seeking and why. That being said, as any novelist knows all too well is that our characters change during plotting, character sketching and obviously writing. The overall vision we had for a character often isn’t the one that we end up with at the end of the book.
Our characters grow and change as our stories progress and that is pretty normal. With Zoe and her story, things changed pretty early on, in just the first few chapters in fact which led to me deleting and rewriting several chapters from scratch. In mind, my the vision for who she was and what she wanted began changing over the last few years.
What’s scary though is doing this character of mine justice. Doing the groups of people, she represents justice and not in a stereotypical way, but an honest way matters to me and that hopefully will matter to readers. Zoe, despite her age, is probably one of the more personally and emotionally complex characters that I have ever written. The only character that’s close would be Thomas from Running Northwest and his untold backstory. Being a white male and writing about a character like this brings with it the chance of her and my story not being taken seriously. Yes, I’m purposely being vague about things because I do want it to be a surprise for a while. It's been suggested by other authors that white men such as me should not even attempt to write about characters like this and that when we do, we actually do more harm than good. I think there is a very good argument about why they might be right but also why they might be wrong.
Essentially though this is part of the reason I am taking so long writing this 3rd part of the Oregon Series. Because I want her to be as authentic and real as I can make her in the context of the story, she is in. I want people, but especially girls to connect with her. I want guys to empathize with her and I want everyone else to HEAR her and not their own ideas of what she does or does not represent.
It’s especially hard given that this is part of The Oregon Series. I want her story to stand on its own but of course, I also want her to connect with other parts of the series and other characters. After all, her sister is Abby from The Diner and Zoe was mentioned in that novel even if not by name until the epilogue. Doing this and not taking away from her personal story is difficult. But I think that the difficulty will ultimately make the story as a whole better.
Now I just have to get more writing done and I am 22,000 words into what I am considering to be the second draft since I edit as I go and cannot stop myself from doing that.