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14 June 2018

Guestpost: How My Characters Came To Be The Characters They Are by Kitty Wilson

I am delighted to welcome Kitty Wilson to my blog to talk about how her characters are formed, from their first presence as a mix of people she knows to the fully fledged (and excellent) characters that make an appearance in the finished books. Even the secondary characters in The Cornish Village School are marvellously written, and they really come to life in the story.

How My Characters Came To Be The Characters They Are

When I start writing, my characters are half formed. I tend to base the protagonists, characters that the reader is meant to like and cheer on to their Happy Ever After, on people I respect and love myself. In The Cornish Village School, this was easy. I based Rosy on an amalgamation of friends I have, one in particular, and started from there. However, it doesn’t take long before they start flexing their muscles, initially whispering ‘I am x, y and z, I am here and I am me’, as the book progresses that whisper becomes a roar and the characters become fully formed humans.

Unfortunately, this means that they believe they are self-determining. I used to read posts from authors that said their characters had taken a turn down a path that was unexpected, that threw the whole plot off and I would scoff. Characters are a creation hence the writer must have complete control of them, surely? And yes, of course we do, we write the words and we erase even more. But there is something intangible, something hard to express that seems to take over and before you know it, there on the page, where your character is supposed to be having a solemn period of self-reflection in the local pub suddenly she’s dancing on the table, hollering like a cowgirl, and very probably using her jumper as a lasso. I know this far-fetched but it has happened to me way more than once. You then choose whether you repeatedly hit the delete key or see where they are going to take you, following them often leads to a much richer story.

With The Cornish Village School, Rosy was meant to be terribly sweet and wholesome – the whole apple pie and rosy cheeks kinda girl – and she is both those things, but as I began to write her she got a little more feisty, her comebacks were quicker and maybe a tad sharper than planned and I found I liked her all the more for it. Suddenly she stopped being someone who was a bit overwhelmed by the battle for the school and became more Boudicca, she wasn’t going down without a fight. She was professional and together but she was human too and made mistakes. I respected her character at the end of the process whereas I had been a little worried at the start that she might come across as dull. Luckily, she stepped in and made sure that wasn’t the case.

Matt was easy to write. In my head he was a kind of mash up of the loveable national treasure that is Monty Don with a spoonful of James Wong and a sprinkle of Diarmuid Gavin – not that I know any of them obviously, but he was at least a mix of how I imagined them to be. He too came alive as he hit the page, and as I wrote he became a far more complex character with his own host of demons, never on show but very present and responsible for shaping his interactions with his sister, a sister most of us would have been tempted to give up on years ago. However, the upside of Angelina (and there are many, I adore her) was that Matt was more than equipped to deal with Rosy’s insecurities than perhaps he would have been had he not had such a tricksy sister.

Finally, Marion, she is possibly my favourite and according to reviews, very much a readers favourite too. We have all met her in real life, whether it be in the playground, at work or socially. She tends to like a committee. In The Cornish Village School – Breaking The Rules, before I knew how people would react to her, I limited some of her worst excesses and she really was a character who wanted to dominate me on the page. Now she is out in the world, I have realised I can let her fly a bit freer and she will be a heavy feature of the series, with her own storyline woven through the next two.

I surprised myself by how much I was rooting for Marion and I think part of Marion’s joy is also her humanity; yes, she’s a nightmare but we grow to love her tenacity and purpose. If I ever have a big battle to fight, I want a Marion on my side.

In the second book in the series we meet with Sylvie who, briefly introduced in book one, has really been through the mill. With Rosy and Matt, lots of Marion and a sprinkling of Angelina we see if Penmenna School can weave it’s magic and help Sylvie get back on her feet and maybe even find her very own Happy Ever After.

The Cornish Village School - Breaking the Rules (Cornish Village School #1) by Kitty Wilson Add to Goodreads

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna. Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community and #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… She won’t be giving up without a fight.

1 comment:

  1. The cover of this is gorgeous- so pretty 😍
    I love the idea of characters having a life of their own, and have experienced it a little when I used to write more often.
    Amy x


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