What You See

People have so many layers. We have what we wear on the outside for all to see.

And we have the parts buried deep within.

When writing characters we need to think about what lies beneath.

I often talk to clients about deepening characters; it’s part of what makes them real; makes them connect to you and I.

We are all so unique; so beautifully different, even if on the outside we might look much the same. And the role of the writer is to look at what you see and what you don’t and use that layering as part of characterisation.

If your protagonist is a detective or a cop you need to think about what aspects of his motivation are personal as well as the bigger picture, but it’s easier with a cop because he puts his life in danger and takes the journey he does for his job; it’s a defined role. If you have someone play pseudo detective, immerse themselves in a quest that puts them in danger ask yourself if you have provided enough motivation for action; to explain why, what does he/she want and what’s at stake. When their role is less defined, you need to define it.

And think about stereotypes; it’s easy to box people into what we think we see; we do it all the time. It’s hard not to as we try to create believable characters by using what we think we see. But try to move away from that. I remember worrying Lydia in While No One Was Watching might have come across that way and had to work hard to make her different; to feel like a real person. In the new novel all three main characters could easily be boxed like that: the Russian immigrant, the Asian and the troubled teenager all living in East London. But none of them are what they seem; not if you go below the surface. And the story sets out to do that.

George even says at one point: does anyone really know anyone else? He talks about the weight of all the secrets, making our footsteps heavier as we march through life. How people see each other every day as they do on their allotment, and yet once they leave; once they catch their buses, what happens next? Who are they then?

Everyone has a story.

So look deep.

We are not what you see.

That is all. Have a lovely Wednesday.

What you see


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