It’s time for Lynne Milford’s monthly guest post. I hope you have enjoyed her posts so far. They really are fascinating. For ease of reference I will add the links to them at the bottom. Today Lynne is talking about creating the perfect cast for her book.
Creating the perfect cast for A Deadly Rejection
JK Rowling famously said that Harry Potter walked into her head fully formed. Sadly, my main character, journalist Dan Sullivan, certainly did not. Instead he’s been dragged, kicking and screaming into the person he is now.
I started writing A Deadly Rejection a long time ago and, as I was writing what I know, I based Dan very loosely on the male friends I had at the time. Boys in their early 20s are a bit daft and don’t really take things seriously – or at least the guys I knew didn’t – and so that’s what Dan did.
But then I shared the book with my editor and she said ‘he seems a bit childish’. And indeed he was. He was a terrible sulk and didn’t really think things through. This worried me because I needed the reader to take him seriously. So I took a step back and Dan grew up a lot, very quickly.
I’d decided to write a male main character because I always struggled to develop realistic female characters. Instead of coming out as real people, they were always what I wanted to be – tall, slim, gorgeous and brilliant at everything. That doesn’t work for a fictional character because no one is perfect – and frankly they’ll just come across as smug and annoying for the reader. So instead I took a step away by choosing a male lead.
All great characters generally have a fatal flaw, something that will prove to be their downfall. For example, Macbeth’s fatal flaw is ambition. In a journalist, this works particularly well and so Dan developed a serious ambition problem. You can see by the mistakes he makes and the way he acts that he’s getting carried away. He needs someone to bring him in line. That’s where your supporting cast comes in.
Your main character needs friends who bring out the best in them and enemies who bring out the worst. In the first instance, Dan has Emma and Ed, both work colleagues and friends. I often feel deeply sorry for them as they battle to keep Dan from flying off at a tangent. Then there are those who play on his fatal flaw and drag him towards danger knowing that he’ll follow where they lead, desperate for the next step in his career.
But the relationships between Dan and Emma and Dan and Ed are not straightforward. For a start, Emma can’t stand him. His ambition and borderline arrogance get on her nerves. But one of the reasons that happens is because she shares his ambition, up to a point. (There is a reason but that’s for a later book.) However, she has a well developed sense of self preservation. You can’t imagine her behaving the way Dan does. Ed again is different. He’s not ambitious but he does a good job at what he does. At times Dan drives him mad because he doesn’t understand why Dan behaves the way he does. He doesn’t understand the need to prove yourself because he’s secure in himself and what he wants.
It’s equally important to create a good villain. Your bad guy needs to work against your hero and frustrate him at every turn. This means that your bad guy needs to know how to push your hero’s buttons. In A Deadly Rejection, the bad guys know exactly how to reel Dan in until they’ve got him exactly where they want him. But your bad guy needs to be realistic. He (or she) needs to fit into the book, sometimes fit right into the world your characters live in, hiding his evil nature in plain sight. It’s as important for your villain to be right, as for your hero.
I hadn’t initially planned for Dan to be a series character. I’d intended to make the town the centre of the story, with the same police officers, but Dan would only play cameo roles in the later books. But he seems to have been popular with readers so far and so he’s going to be leading the series. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go to his head, eh?
How far would you go to get what you want?
Beneath the bustling, respectable exterior of the Kent town of Allensbury lies a world of corruption and greed.
When local news reporter Dan Sullivan scents a story in the local council, he begins to ask questions. But when his source dies in mysterious circumstances, Dan is implicated. He is quickly drawn into a world of lies, ambition and avarice as he fights to clear his name.
The more he digs, the more someone tries to stop the story from ever seeing the light of day.
Dan must decide what’s more important to him…the story, or his life.
Book shortlink to Amazon http://ow.ly/57IG30fS5F5
LM Milford’s blog – http://www.lmmilford.wordpress.com/
Twitter – @lmmilford
Previous Guest Posts
First guest post (January 2018) – My writing journey
Second guest Post (February 2018) – Where did A Deadly Rejection come from?