I have fallen in love with a most unique young woman, and that I eagerly look forward to every time I encounter her. I am charmed by her appearance, her mannerism, and her frankly impish nature. She could not be more perfect if I had created her myself.
That is to say, she could not be more perfect because I created her myself.
In the book I am currently writing, I had need of a minor character to show up occasionally to dust a pot or bring some grapes, and I had no other intention for her than that. As we all know, good domestics are very hard to find. In order to give the character some character, I gave her a bit of an eccentricity. As a result, she often blurts remarks and observations best left unsaid. Her name is Amanda, but everyone calls her Spitfire because that so ably suits her character.
The first time we meet her, it is her first day of work, and the Boss has come downstairs to get something from the kitchen instead of ringing for it:
The maid, Spitfire, was testy and horrified. ‘Sir! That’s my job!’ she protested in a high and tight voice. ‘You’re meant to decide what you want and ring for me; then I bring it to you!’
‘I see, I’m sorry, I forgot. Shall I go back upstairs? I just wanted some fruit.’
Spitfire thrust a bunch of grapes into his hands and turned back to what she had been doing.
In the next chapter, which takes place the following day, she exceeds herself:
Spitfire entered the library with something of a bang. Hugo nearly dropped the tray. ‘That’s for me to do, sir!’ she blurted and rushed over to take it from him.
Hugo swiftly removed a glass as the maid took the tray from him and went to serve the guest….‘Um, Spi—um, I’m sorry I don’t remember your given name,’ Hugo said. ‘Please leave the tray. And the pitcher. And the bottle, unless you’re having one yourself.’
She seemed to exhale all at once. ‘MynameisAmandayoucancallmeSpitfire!’ she said. ‘Yourbottle!’ She thrust the bottle and the pitcher into Hugo’s hands, tucked the tray under her arm like a schoolbook, and scooted out the door.
A charming and endearing young lady. Speaks some French too.
It sometimes happens that an incidental character becomes so popular s/he ends up taking over the story. Spitfire has become an integral part of my book because she represents certain spritely characteristics that I would be happy to find in my own cast of real-life acquaintances. In editing the manuscript, those chapters in which Spitfire appears are the most fun to read. I actually laugh out loud. (I never laugh out loud.) So naturally, to satisfy my affection for this spritely person, I have given her a larger role.
Many authors have advised aspiring writers—write every day! Even if you bin it at the end of the morning, write! There is obviously another reason. Once your creativity begins to flow, it can take you remarkable places and introduce you to remarkable people. But in order for it to flow, it has to be let off the leash regularly. Spitfire’s lack of inhibition has actually facilitated a relaxing of my inhibitions. In turn, this has made the story more unique and startling than I had originally thought. In an article in April 2014, ‘The Author As Created By His Characters’ I wrote how I learnt things about life that my characters ‘taught’ me—I came to realizations because they acted them out.
Momentum is not restricted to physics or classical mechanics. Creativity is a passion fully capable of building on itself, and the enthusiasm you feel for your creation may lead you to create even better things.
As in Art, so in Life.