One of life’s most challenging tasks is discovering who you are as a person. What are your likes, dislikes, talents, beliefs and so on.
When I was 26 I remember deciding that I liked olives. It came as quite a shock to me that I liked these little black and green fruits, because for the previous 26 years I had actively avoided them. They are definitely an acquired taste. This week I had a similar conversation about Marmite sandwiches with one of my friends (she loves the stuff??) British people seem to be obsessed with sandwiches. If they disappeared, what would we all eat for lunch?
When I am writing, I find that I intrinsically know all sorts of fundamental information about my characters. When I create these fictional people I know what they look like and how they think. I know their past and their future and how they will respond in most situations. I know as much as I can about them before I start.
In my previous existence working in communications and PR, I was lucky enough to be contacted by the bestselling novelist, Lesley Pearse. She phoned me when she was looking for some information to help her research her latest book. I used the opportunity to ask her how she develops her stories. She told me that she focuses on her characters and then puts them into different situations, watching their reactions.
I would describe it as exactly like watching a home movie playing in your head. I watch my characters as they confront the confusing situations that I have created. I push them to their limits and watch as they discover more about themselves. In the chapter I am currently writing, my male lead character is soon to find out the true reason behind his father’s and sister’s deaths. I am very curious to watch his reaction.
Walking in someone else’s shoes is a very absorbing and useful way to empathise with others. It also helps me understand my own reactions to many things.
So, this week, while on my ongoing voyage of self-discovery, I reached a crucial decision. My favourite sandwich is cheese and onion.