Working on Walking The Razor’s Edge has given me a lot to think about. It’s a bigger novel than Silk Over Razor Blades in that there’s more action than what’s going on with Lenina. I haven’t yet decided if there should be scenes beyond her POV (outside of the usual parallel timeline ones) but I am writing them to see how they fit (just like I did with SORB. Shame that none of them made it into the final cut).
The fact that there are so many characters involved means I have to think outside Lenina’s head. This is harder than I thought it would be especially when I try to keep things true to life. Well… as true as they can be in a vampire novel.
Take these examples.
You own a car. You keep it on your drive. One morning you go outside just in time to see a complete stranger climb in, help himself to the keys which you (stupidly) left in the ignition and drive off.
That’s stealing, right? You call the police, you give them your reg, you sit by the phone waiting for the call that says they’ve found your stolen vehicle.
All make sense? Okay… but how about we scale that back a bit and look at it from a slightly different point of view:
You’re five. You own an awesome blue car that your mother got you for your last birthday. You keep it in your toybox. One morning you go downstairs and find your cousin playing with it even though he didn’t ask you or tell you about his plans. You try to take it back, but your mother slaps your wrist and tells you to share.
Angry and confused you play with something else, though the whole time you do, you wait for your cousin to drop said car so you can put it safely back in your toybox. After all… it’s not his car.
Do you see where I’m going with this yet?
No? Okay… how about this:
You’re on a bus and you see a couple of twelve year olds, complete with book bags and school uniforms push and shove to get on first. The woman next to you chuckles, tuts and returns to whatever book she’s reading.
At the next stop two teenagers, probably about seventeen years old do something similar only this time the woman next to you glares at them and mutters something about ‘rowdy teenagers not respecting their elders.’
At the stop following that, a tiny old woman with a one of those trailing cart things shoves her way to the front of the line and then carefully, painfully slowly makes her way up the steps while the people she dislodged mutter and groan. The woman beside you leaps off her seat and holds out her hand to the little lady and even offers up her seat.
There different people all doing the same thing. But the reaction from those around them is completely different dependant on their age.
The point I’m trying to make is that if we, as writers, are trying to report truth and ‘real life’ with our words, then it’s important to remember what’s happening around our characters as well as what’s happening to our characters.
If Lenina is feeling grumpy because she’s yet to feed, her vampire Master will probably understand that and cut her a bit of slack. Her brother, on the other hand, who has no idea why she’s grumpy will probably tell her to get a grip and stop being such a bitch. A stranger on the road who sees her irritated expression might well cross the street to steer clear of whatever sort of trouble might be brewing.
Three very different reactions to exactly the same thing, but all valid. Each of them serves to provide a picture of the relationship (or lack of) each character has with Lenina and in turn also gives a sense of the environment.
This isn’t something I paid much attention to before WTRE and I’m sad about that. I feel like I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities there.
Needless to say, going forward I’ll be paying a hell of a lot more attention to these things in future. It can only help to flesh out the world I’m trying to create and that is a good thing however you look at it. 🙂