Wednesday, December 5, 2007

I Didn't Know Silas Very Well

I hit the first draft another lick today and as I did so I realized how much Silas, the protagonist, has changed since I first made his acquaintance. I conceived the book idea and the character together and, although the rough outline of the story has stayed quite true to the original plan, Silas has not.

He's not the guy I thought he was. He's similar, certainly, but he thinks and acts differently, especially as the book goes on. I'm not sure how much that is due to the fact that he was different than I originally imagined him, and how much is due to the fact that Silas has changed as result of the people and events around him through 180,000 words of narrative.

I think it must be some of both and it would perhaps be best if most of it is due to him growing and changing through the course of the story. After all, character development is kind of important in a novel. ( I know, "Duh") Which leads to a question I've been wondering about for some time.

When I hit the period key that finishes the first draft I will know Silas far better than I knew him at the beginning of the novel, and he will have changed a lot from the 19 year old youngster who woke up on the farm one morning. So, when it comes time for The Great Rewrite, how do I separate those two changes in order to rewrite him accurately?

I'm probably not being clear. I should be able to rewrite Silas much better because I know him so much better - early scenes should ring more true once rewritten. On the other hand, I'm imagining it might be difficullt to keep the vastly more experienced and world-wise Silas of the end of the book from appearing in the early stages. He can't benefit in the rewrite, as a character, because of experience he gained throughout the later course of the narrative.

Its something that a good, experienced novelist is doubtless familiar with and is able to handle. I'm a first time novelist and it remains to be seen whether I'm a good one.

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