Knowing the future is not just a gift, it is also a curse; especially for a writer. When you know the future it can be difficult to control the past – to tell events as they ‘really happened’. The knowledge of what is to come is bound to color the perception of the present. In my case, it is the circumstances surrounding a certain character whom I plan on developing into the villain of the Arc Rider series.
I need him to be viewed as a hero in the early part of the series (Book 1, 2 and half of 3) with his dastardly nature only gradually coming to light. I need to leave hints, but only hints. This is not a Snape type character who is basically unlikable. This guy is supposed to be everybody’s friend, a true inspiration to my characters. I want his betrayal to hurt – to cause readers to throw the book across the room and then rush over to pick it up again just to see how I get the ba$!@$d. I need to embed hints and foreshadowing in the books, but must play it close to the vest. After all, betrayal at the hands of our closest friends is the kind that hurts the most.
Problem is – I don’t like the guy – and it shows, all over the place in my first draft. I thought he was being helpful, but a re-read proves he is condescending. I tried to make him smart, he is a know-it-all. I wanted him to be caring, he is patronizing. SIGH.
In order to conquer this, I am taking a slight detour from the rest of the novel, to re-write a scene or two from this character’s perspective. To get inside his head. To find out who he is before he goes bad. I am having to learn to like him.
Of course, I already know what this means. I too will feel the betrayal when he turns. I will be unable to insulate myself from the pain, because I will like the guy. Sheesh! Prescience is a curse.