The Hardest Character to Write
By Chris Lindberg
As much as some of us won’t admit it, every author has a favorite character in each and every book they’ve written. And they also have a favorite character to write: whether it be the hero or villain, the character they relate to most, or just the one they had the most fun developing. If you’ve written a story or two, I’ll bet as you read this, you’re thinking about those particular characters right now.
But what about the hardest character to write? There is always one of those, too. It could be a character of the opposite sex, or one of a much different age, or one with a mindset that is difficult to understand, or any number of other things that make writing them a tall task. Now you’re probably thinking back to those characters and nodding your head as well. Wasn’t easy to write them, was it?
In my novel Code of Darkness, the most difficult character for me to write was the secondary (though some would argue primary) villain, Elias Todd. Elias Todd was a character that had it all: he was rich and he was gifted in many ways, but he was also a sick and evil man. As a professional killer, he ended peoples’ lives for profit, but also for the sheer, twisted joy he felt in making others suffer. Because Code of Darkness is ultimately a story about good versus evil, it of course would need a good bad guy. In many cases a good villain is more important than a good hero. After all, which characters do people remember the most from classics such as The Silence of the Lambs and No Country for Old Men? Exactly.
So, how do you write someone who is so evil and disturbed, a cold-blooded killer whose mind dwells in places you’d never want to go? You have to start someplace. I started by doing some character studies, putting Todd in different situations: hunting a target, putting his back against the wall, etc. I even wrote a chapter about his past, to help me figure out how a person could become what he’d become. (The chapter didn’t make the final cut, but I still have it and may post it someday if anyone’s interested.)
After all that, it was time to write some actual scenes for the book that showed what Todd was capable of. One in particular is Chapter 37, titled “The Curtain,” where readers get a glimpse of Todd’s evil, and it serves as a foreshadow for what he does later in the book. I won’t tell you what happens obviously, but I will say that I had to rewrite the scene six times until I was satisfied with how disturbing it was.
And that’s my hardest character to write. Who was yours, and what made them a challenge?
Chris Lindberg’s first novel, Code of Darkness, was released in August. You can find out more by visiting www.codeofdarkness.com, or visiting Facebook and searching on “code of darkness.”
To purchase Code of Darkness in paperback or e-book edition, please check out: http://www.lulu.com/browse/search.php?fListingClass=0&fSearch=code+of+darkness
Or search “code of darkness” on Amazon or BN.com.
You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org – he’d love to hear from you.