An Inside Look at Revision: I Could Write About You

Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation is available on Amazon and Smashwords. With every chapter, I posted notes about the process of revision.

Chapter 14

Although I am a firm believer that writers can and should exercise control over their works, I must allow that characters do take on a kind of separate existence. Put another way, a character gains certain characteristics which, if the writer is playing fair, need to be maintained throughout the story or novel or script. If these characteristics aren't what the writer wanted, the writer should either (1) go all the way back to the beginning and rewrite the character or (2) have the character grow and mature, à la Lord Peter Wimsey in Dorothy Sayers's mysteries or Howard on The Big Bang Theory.

And as characters gain characteristics, they become interesting in their own right. Sometimes, it is hard to give them up! I can remember the first time I changed the outcome of a story because I wanted to reuse a character later. Aubrey's brother, Richard, falls into this category.

In the very first version of Aubrey, the family played larger roles as villains. They weren't precisely bad, but they were rather unpleasant. Rather than Aubrey being stolen, her family gave her away to preserve their social standing. Richard's first meeting with Aubrey after her reversion was filled with blame and recrimination.

Even by the end of that first version, I was on my way to restoring Richard's reputation. In a very short scene, Aubrey realizes and accepts that Charles, although a different personality type than Richard, carries within him the same unyielding certainty about a course of action.

In the most recent version of Aubrey, the family is far less unpleasant; while still retaining his Darcy-like aloofness, Richard is far more likable and approachable--hence his portrayal in Chapter 14 as Aubrey's familial confidant.

However, as I improved Richard's temperament, his fiancée, Gloria, became more and more repellent. Gloria was also there from the beginning, but in the first version, she and Richard were on the same wavelength. The more I transformed Richard into an affable older brother (and something of an iconoclast), the more Gloria's social climbing rose to the fore.

All this means that by the time I finished the before-publication revision of Aubrey, I desperately wanted to marry Richard off to someone else.

Which leads me to Richard's Story, the Second Roesia novella. 

*Since I discuss Richard in this post, I substituted male portraits for female ones. Although both portraits are American, rather than English, the eyes and dress are accurate to Richard's description and position. The age of the first is a little off; Richard is just under 30 in Aubrey's story. The second portrait is more accurate to age although as a civil servant, Richard does shave.

Both oils on wood were painted by folklorist artist Sheldon Peck.

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