sábado, 15 de julio de 2017

Making readers connect with a book's character

I love writing even if it's just a hobby for now. I also love writing complicated characters that evolve over the course of the story. Everyone changes even if it's just a little. Apparently doing that is a really difficult writing art although I just recall what I like the most of a popular 80's anime Saint Seiya and the ever dramatic Gundam and these kinds of things come easy for me.

One thing that strikes me a lot when I read reviews of my books is that people seem to love Spaulding's character. I can agree, he's awesome and multifaceted. His ignorance of human customs and spelling mistakes is a running gag in the series. He's fiercely loyal to those few that earn his trust but he's indifferent and blatantly rude to those that he doesn't deem to be worthy. The problem is that the characters he riles up the most for no explained reason just happen to be the Elf King himself and his second in command Lord Froylan.

Spaulding constantly gets into trouble with Salman and Froylan although the reasons are slowly revealed during the course of the story. Salman equally dislikes him because of his rudeness and Froylan tries to gaslight him to force Spaulding to punch him in the face and obtain the excuse he's always been looking for to arrest him.

Froylan's dream of arresting Spaulding becomes a reality in the second novel Separation and he ensures that Spaulding is psychologically tortured for as long as possible for Salman's ulterior purposes. Spaulding soon discovers his behavior won't get him anywhere during his incarceration under Lord Eufurel's watch and with the well intentioned suggestions of an old friend of his named Nahar that just happens to be one of his prison guards, he starts to feign compliance if only to earn the loosening of his restrictive new life.

Spaulding over time seems to become used to this new sense of normalcy and has memorized the names, faces and personalities of the 100 immortal male guards that constantly watch over him. Nahar and Hirmirel are the guards that treat him with the most utter kindness, others like Eufurel are only harsh with him when he's disobedient and some are cruel sadists such as Gerasha that love to belittle and humilliate him whenever they have the chance. It soon grows obvious that in just a few scenes that Spaulding grows to utterly detest Gerasha perhaps even more than he hates Salman.

Gerasha is an interesting character to write. He's horrible and demeaning to those that are weaker than him but he once again appears in the 7th novel as a completely changed character. After surviving the bloody siege fully unharmed by remaining on an undesirable rural post, word began to spread among the guard that Eufurel wrote an edict ordering Gerasha to be immediately transferred after he viciously tortured Spaulding for no reason for hours. Gerasha becomes ridiculed, ostracized even by his own friends and imprisoned on several occasions because he fought against guards that mocked him. After 100 years of being constantly transferred across undesirable rural posts and unable to see Spaulding, Gerasha has fully changed and becomes a completely different person. Humbled to a despairing degree, he strives to gain Lord Damantin's trust in the hopes that he will be transferred to the palace and serve under Spaulding.

I personally like how Gerasha changes even though he is just a supporting character that appears in just a few scenes in the second novel. We don't get to see his transformation, but his character is fully humbled from the dire treatment he suffered between the 2nd and 7th novels. He becomes absolutely devoted to Spaulding to a degree that might seem ridiculous and wants to become his most loyal guard.

Spaulding on the other hand transforms a lot during the novels as the secrets of his dark past are slowly revealed. He seems cold and distant to the children at first wishing to simply remain in the comforts of his castle or killing criminals during his incursions of a ranger without any incentive to have a family of his own. After some quarrels with the children, he starts to enjoy their company and becomes truly fond of Richard. At the end of the first novel, he has opened up to the children who got to know his kindness. He accepts the punishment Salman gave to him for his rudeness but he still harbors hatred for Salman and the Äimite guard.

His persona changes in the second novel albeit in a very cruel manner. Isolated and tortured relentlessly in Eufurel's prison, he tries to feign forced politeness to the guards but his hatred for them never wavers for unknown reasons. He becomes jaded from the experience which is something that causes resentment in Richard in the third novel. Spaulding has formed a shell over him due to the difficult circunstances he lived in for almost 5 years and barely says a word or smiles. Spaulding has a mission that Richard doesn't seem to understand at first.

I won't spoil what happens to Spaulding halfway into the 3rd novel, you will have to read it for yourself. However, I like it how Spaulding suddenly becomes fully different at the end of the 3rd novel. Suffering from severe amnesia, his personality has been locked with the character we meet at the end of the 1st novel, still with a huge appreciation for Richard but somewhat distant yet affable to the guards.

The 4th novel reveals Spaulding getting used to his new and challenging life. Frustrated that he cannot remember almost 7 years of his life, Froylan takes advantage of his situation and tries to shelter him from any bad experience that could trigger him to remember everything with disastrous results. Froylan tries to initially tolerate him and perhaps even like the elf that he used to belittle so much. The two of them start to form a professional relationship dynamic that continues in the following novels.

However Spaulding is getting tired of this life. Forced to remain locked inside of the king's palace for 11 years under the excuse that there aren't sufficient guards to properly protect him, he feels like something is missing but the medics can't find anything physically wrong with him. It is at the end of the novel that he remembers the tragic events of the 2nd and 3rd novels and he tries to come to peace with that harsh reality. Due to Garain's intervention, Spaulding in a mad fit grudgingly pardons Froylan's life but forces him to be imprisoned. After coming to terms with the harsh reality of everything that he did, he entrusts Garain with the enviable position as the new commander of the guard and embarks on a journey to unite the exiled clan.

Spaulding changes a lot during the novels. He becomes more patient, amicable and open towards meeting new people. He starts to harbor feelings of respect for a select few Äimite guards but still remains somewhat distant and cautious. Damantin continues to trigger a positive change in him as he finds a kindred spirit that also endured a difficult life. His relationship with Froylan continues to be a nonstop battle of wills where each party hides things from the other that causes multiple events in the story. Damantin continues where Garain left off and tries to prove to Spaulding that the guard is noble and fully loyal to him. The 7th novel continues this slow voyage with Gerasha's strive to serve under Spaulding.

Sincerely I love deep and complex characters and I hope people enjoy the novels as well.

Haven't read the first novel yet? Check it out via Amazon.

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