V.C. Andrews’ new novella Corliss, on sale June 12, shows us the origin story of Corliss, one of the many genius girls at Spindrift Academy, and who was first introduced to us in Bittersweet Dreams. Read about what it’s like as an author to delve deeper into the life of a side character!
Expanding a character who is basically merely mentioned in a full-length previous novel is an exciting challenge for any author. Corliss, who was born out of Bittersweet Dreams is one of these characters in the bud who is developed into a main character in her own companion piece. Hopefully, there were enough intriguing possibilities revealed in the brief description and dialogue to whet the interest of the reader.
In this case and the novella to follow, all three characters share a unique special gift. Developing relationships, especially romantic ones, seems more and more difficult these days, but these girls are burdened with too much of a good thing. As the author I find it especially daunting to create such characters. It’s easy to write yourself into a dead-end. My favorite advice to give is first be sure you’ve created a real character, someone with whom the reader can identify either through her faults or needs and then let the character make the choices for you. Sounds fantastic, but it is true. As a writer you find you can’t get the character to do something he or she wouldn’t logically do. Otherwise, you’re writing something that isn’t true and readers are sharp enough to see that. So, it’s important to have the character sharply in your thinking even before you write the first word.
Of course, you can discover new things about your character, but they don’t or shouldn’t come out of thin air. Something you’ve already done, described, or had the character think and say makes this new action possible. I also tell would-be writers that writing is rewriting. It’s my particular technique, one I’m sure other writers use, to begin the next day by rewriting what I’ve written the previous day. It gets you into the flow of it again. You’re like someone hopping on the train with someone you’ve just met. As you travel, you learn more and more about the stranger until he or she is no longer a stranger. It’s not much different from what a sculptor does. He or she take a block of stone, but in his or her mind, he sees what’s in the stone and his work, in my case writing, is merely(make it sound simple) freeing the character trapped in the block. It’s haunting and daunting. She or he is calling to me. “Free me and I’ll finish your story.”
Sometimes, my family thinks my characters are so real to me that I could call them on a mobile and ask them what they’d like to do next. It’s a running family joke. Who knows? Maybe I can.