By Tracy Kiely
My character, Elizabeth Parker, and I share many of the same traits. This isn’t too surprising. After all – I created her. We both grew up in Northern Virginia, attended Catholic women’s college, and along the way, dated and worked for several idiots (although we never dated someone we worked for). Our families are packed full of colorful characters and we have a healthy admiration for Jane Austen, biting sarcasm, and Cary Grant. That said, we also have our differences. Elizabeth is kinder, more loyal, and quicker on her feet. Conversely, if I were to stumble across a body, I would immediately call the police, offer what I knew, and then step the hell out of the way and let the professionals do their jobs.
Which, I suppose, is reason number 469 why no one writes books about me.
Of course, that isn’t this week’s question. The question is has writing main character changed me as a person. I thought about it and realized that, well, no, she hasn’t. I started to worry. Was Elizabeth was some kind of underachiever? Did all the other protagonists point and make fun of her? Apparently, my blog mates all created special, magical characters who in turn changed them for the better. Their lives were made richer by seeing places, people, and everyday events through their character’s eyes. I grew despondent. My creation was a selfish, lazy pile of words. It was 8th grade science all over again when, for three months, I played classical music to a fern tree sapling and charted its progress against the fern kept away from music. Guess what? Both died. Seems I forgot to water them enough. Music may do wonders for the savage beast, but it does squat for a dehydrated fern.
I had once again created a failure. A self-centered, ego-centric creation, who much like those dead ferns, didn’t even know I existed. I’ll be honest; the revelation brought me to my knees. After all I had done for her, too! I have saved that woman’s life more times than I can count AND I’ve hooked her up with two very hot men (granted one turned out to be an ass, but that is besides the point). I’ve given her cute clothes, and friends, and even a trip to London.
It was right around this point that I thought about killing her; like the ferns, only quicker.
I was spared from doing this by a sudden headache. Looking outside, I saw that a storm was coming. I get headaches now before a storm hits. I didn’t always. It only started a few years ago. That’s when it hit me. Elizabeth also gets headaches before a storm. She didn’t initially; it was a suggestion made by an editor (give your protagonist problems, she advised. I gave her headaches.). BUT – here’s the thing – I never got them before I created Elizabeth! NEVER!
The good news: Elizabeth isn’t an underachiever.
The bad news: Apparently, she’s just kind of mean.
On the other hand, she might just be paying me back for all the times I threw her in the path of a dead body.
Touché, Elizabeth, touché.