‘Th-rump, th-rump, th-rump, th-rump. Something new had entered Tabitha's dream’...
“You can’t do that!”
“Start your story with a made up word like ‘th-rump’. What kind of a word is that?”
I had allowed an acquaintance (shall we say?) to read an unpublished manuscript after they had pleaded to become a beta-reader. It was a mistake, I decided. I recalled Jesus and prophets in home-towns.
“It’s for children,” I protested, “not for your generation. And besides, I can make up as many words as I like. I’m the author. Shakespeare introduced thousands of new words into English.”
Yes, I am the author. I can use words as I want, and make up a world out of my own imagination. The plot is mine, and so are the characters. They do what I want... or do they?
In theory I could get my characters doing anything – but they just won’t. Sure they exist only in my head, but they have minds of their own. Sometimes it amazes me to think that the characters of my White Gates Adventures series don’t actually exist. They aren’t based on any living persons, but somehow they have become real people, each with their own characteristics and traits. They have their hang-ups and short-comings, as well as strengths and caring hearts. They amaze. They make mistakes, and they hurt. (I hate it when they hurt.) When I put them into a setting, they tell me what they are going to do. They even get up to things that never actually get written down, because they wouldn’t want me to; some things should remain private.
There are writers who write only for their readers; they tease, intrigue, arouse and titillate them. They twist, turn and astonish. I don’t seem to be able to do that. Is it strange to say that I write for my characters? For example, Kakko – feisty and extrovert, and always impetuous – demands more adventures in which she can save a significant chunk of the universe. I am dreading what she is going to say when I get to end of the series... It maybe she’ll grow out of her impatience – I don’t know, she hasn’t told me yet.
The thing is, for me, the story has be authentic. I mean, even though the setting is fantasy, the characters and events have to have integrity. I can’t make them do anything I like. Integrity and authenticity – could these be essential for a Christian writer?
Too many people feel that freedom means the ability to do whatever they like, with their own lives as well as in their writing. But we can’t – not if we want to be truly authentic. We can only be a pale shadow of something or someone we are not; yet we are richly authentic when we are genuinely ourselves. That’s true freedom.
And as for ‘th-rump’ – it’s the onomatopoeic sound of a helicopter hovering overhead – and I’m sticking to it!