Into the Flames has come a long way from the very small idea that began in my brain as a teenager. In all actuality, Into the Flames was supposed to be a sequel to another book I had written, Born to Fly. After a while I realized that I loved Rahab more than Scout, and I felt she deserved to be the main character and the character through which readers should be introduced into their world. It’s amazing how ideas warp and change with time. In a way it’s kind of sad to see all those all notebook pages full of scenes that will never see the light of day, but then again it’s so exciting to see how much better my writing has gotten over the years.
My friend and colleague Aaron Pogue has created pre-writing guides for people who plan to compete in NaNoWriMo. These pre-writing guides are to give you a sense of your character and the plot and where you want your story to go before you actually dive in. Long before I met Aaron, I was doing something slightly similar. I had written out pages of character descriptions and short scenes that illustarted by characters’, well, character. And they have helped me immensley. They have made my characters deep and multi-dimensional and able to pull their own weight and the weight of their stories forward. But what’s really strange is that even after all that pre-writing and exploring of my characters’ little quicks and habits, they can still change who they are. Not who they are essentially, but little things about them. Last night I was reading back on the very first scenes I had written that introduced Rahab, and it amazes me how different she was. For example, one of her most prominent traits in the beginning was that she would talk a lot, especially when she was nervous, but everybody in her family had learned to tune her out. Now she’s quiet unless she’s around friends, and often can’t find the proper words to say. Most amusingly, the thing that my readers like to complain the most about is the change in Rahab’s hair color. She began as a brunette, but as time went on I began to see her as a blond, with her hair turned even lighter from constant sun exposure. Some people *coughMomcough* are angry over this change, stating that Rahab is not like the other blonds in the story, so she should have brown hair. And it’s true; she is different. And yes, I do call all the other blonds bimbos and write them as shallow. But I don’t have a problem with Rahab’s hair color because it proves that appereances can be deceiving. Maybe she does look the same as the Cheeries. But if you get to know her, you’ll know that she’s unique.
Change is always good, right? Do you have a hard changing your characters’ looks or personalities when working on your story? Do the changes come naturally, or do they force themselves upon you?