One of the things I heard regularly when my proof readers (test subjects? torture victims?) got hold of the first book was ‘I love Laura’. Laura is one of the main characters in the books, although not the main character, but everyone commented on how much they liked her. One of them even suggested they would be less than impressed if I killed Laura off. Now whether I had that design for Laura or not only I know, but since that person was my mum I kind of figured it would be rude to do it anyway.
The problem is though, have they influenced how I write about Laura, about the things I do to Laura? If I’d ever intended to do anything nasty to Laura would I still have the guts to go ahead with it? At the end of the day here is a character that people clearly like a lot, and if I had intended to kill her or otherwise remove her from the story could I do so without alienating the people who are proof reading the books for me?
The problem is that when I ask I get different responses from people as to why they like Laura so it makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what I’ve done differently with that character that makes her stand out so much. It doesn’t help that while she’s a main character she actually only appears for some of the first book, most prominently in a particular scenario with Sam (the ‘lead’). For at least the middle of the book she’s not around for various plot reasons and appears again at the end. She’s in it through most of the second book though and will feature prominently in the third (that was planned).
Now, I have a plan for Laura as you’d expect, but does everyone else telling me how wonderful she is have any influence on whether I modify that plan? More to the point should it have any influence?
Time will tell I guess, and since I’ve written the last chapter of the third book and my original plans for her have been written down we’ll have to see if I change them as the book develops. It could be that I come up with a slightly different plan, or a radically different plan. I only hope that if I do it’s because it’s what’s right for the character and not because at heart I’m just a softy, after all for every four people who like Laura there are probably four more who would argue the opposite.