I’d like to explore character with you and how I approached this area of writing with my main protagonist, Sam Batford. I write crime fiction that would fit the category of Noir. I didn’t intend to write dark crime. I spent many years investigating crime and thought I’d write more of a police procedural type of book. I had the knowledge to back up what I could put into a story. Write what you know, right? Maybe not …
I needed a challenge beyond getting the words on the page. I knew I could get words down as I’d written a novel before Rubicon (my debut). What I didn’t know, with Rubicon, was how the book would play out or who would be in it. I knew the beginning but that was it.
So here’s how I approached the protagonist’s development. I took everything I valued in a person and flipped it. My protagonist would think and react to people in the opposite way to how I would.
This created a significant dichotomy. Despite my own feelings of unease I had to work with my protagonist. He wasn’t leaving my head so I needed to write him out of it! The result was that I was challenged beyond my comfort zone. This, in turn, I hoped would transfer onto the page and resonate with the reader.
I love books that make me question why I’m invested in a character that I wouldn’t see eye to eye with: Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs), Tyler Durden (Fight Club) Bob, in Dennis LeHane’s The Drop. With each of those I found myself having some connection and empathy with their situation.
Sure, there’s a host of other areas that develop your character but this one worked for me in the creation of Sam Batford.
The caveat to this post (or any of mine) is that I’m a newbie at this game and this is just what worked for me in the genre I write.
In any suspect interview, where a solicitor imparts advice to a client, their advice is just that, advice. It’s up to the client whether they accept that advice or not.
If it works for you, that’s great. If it doesn’t, then forget it. Use whatever works best for you and your genre.
Most of all enjoy the journey.
Thanks for reading.