On Writing: Creating Introverted Characters
Since I released my novella, Best Forgotten, back in June I have received small, but very positive feedback regarding my portrayal of the lead character, Kellie-Sue Smith. To recap, Best Forgotten tells the story of a highly introverted young woman who wakes in hospital with partial amnesia. Basically, she cannot recall the events of the last eighteen months. To add to the trauma, one of the last things she can recall is seeing the bloodied body of her hated ex-boyfriend on the kitchen floor. Was she, or was she not, responsible for beating him? Is he, or isn't he dead? As the story progresses through the events that occurred over the past eighteen months up until the present day, the reader is taken on a journey through Kellie-Sue's internal hopes, fears and childhood memories, until the whole thing finally starts to make sense.
Writing about introverted characters is something that I quite enjoy. I like the idea of being able to present the character as something quite different to what the people in his or her "world" see. There is also something fun about being able to present someone's internal fears and conflicts on paper, in a way that can be read and understood by others. Of course, I'm not the first author and I'm certainly, certainly not the finest to do this. Tim Winton's characters are often deep thinking and highly sensitive men (think Luther Fox from Dirt Music,) who are controlled by domineering woman. (Perhaps an even better example is Scully from The Riders who embarks on a journey across Europe, as he is unable to accept the fact that his wife has left him.) But Winton's work is remarkably more mature than mine, his characters older and his prose quite different. In other words, I'm not trying to compare my work to his.
I will suggest to any aspiring writers out there that just as you would handle an introvert with care in real life, handle your introverted characters with care. Remember, introverts have a rich inner-life, which they do not enjoy exposing to others. Assume that your reader is that one close friend that they are willing to divulge everything to. And finally, be realistic. Just because someone has a big imagination, does not mean that they lack intelligence, or critical reasoning. Respect them.