Beliefs. This post is inspired by Charles Yallowitz’s article: Author Perspective Versus Reader Perspective. Sometimes, we wordsmiths believe that what we have woven is is to see. Other times, we wonder where our readers have wandered.
When I first wrote and shared “Escorting in Twilight,” I was sure that Jalem‘s personality was clear. She’s smart, strong, cautious, concerned. She could harm, heal, help. She is the heart and soul of the trio.
Each of the characters – Jalem, Desmon and Allen – have their strengths (Air, Fire and Water, respectively) and given talents. Someone that they had once respected had betrayed everything they had believed, were taught to believe. I shared a short scene that was inspired by the lyrics of Adele’s “Set Fire to the Rain.” The timing in the story was between battles, Jalem telling Desmon to support their friend in a different region.
The response I received was odd: “I don’t envision Jalem as a brute!” Yep, raised eyebrow.
Another comment made, different time, different table, different writer/reader: “I hate it when you have healers who are warriors.”
I’m not changing Jalem’s personality (or rather, she hasn’t changed what she’s shown me). During a chat the trio have around a fire, evading one enemy while aiming for another, they have the following exchange:
Desmon poked at the flames with the point of his sword. “Don’t look at me. I cook; he concocts.”
Allen shrugged, the strips of the roots simmering in the boiled down berries. “Keep it up and we’ll see how well we do solo.”
“You two wouldn’t last a moons’ arch without fighting trouble,” Jalem said.
“Says the one yet to strike down-.”
“Desmon, you’ve your blade; I’ve mine. Don’t look at me like that. Why wouldn’t I know the most efficient way to strike someone, given all the times I’ve had to stitch them up? It’s more than the charms and knowledge we’ve gathered. Allen here has his share of secrets and so do you.”
She leaned back, muscles relaxed despite the tension on the other side. “One of these days, you’ll learn what it means to take a real good look at things.”
How do you work through the challenges of creating the characters you believe your readers will see? Is it worth worrying if perceptions differ?