I am one of those writers who adores it when a character plays up, determines their own way, refuses to cooperate, turns the tables, cocks up, throws a wobbly, changes the rules, or in any other way manages to wander off on their own as though seeking their own adventure – I suspect I like it simply because the first time it happened, I gave in and allowed the character freedom to move, and he took me to great things.
I was very much in the early stages of writing development when that happened. I was working on a story that is now so remote from where it ended up that it can only barely be thought of as related. Yet that character’s release turned out to be not only a fortuitous event for me (evolving a single book into a series), but also proved a major breakthrough in character expansion that has since helped me many times over.
Not all characters go their own way. Nor will they be prodded. I can’t make any of them take off on their own, but I have figured out that their “escape” has a lot to do with that individual character’s potential.
Va’el formed in my mind as a determined young man with his eye on the Khekarian Throne. He was in his late teens when I first met him, destined for book 4, as yet untitled. The “how he came to be” and his parentage was worked out in book 2. His introduction was minor and in the background, in place as a logical step towards properly introducing him later on.
Only, of course, in that book, he couldn’t be in his late teens, he was only a child – no threat to anybody, yet, but the germ of that had to be there, his nature had to show. So, in he came, a spoilt rich Khekarian boy of the opinion he’s not rich enough. At ten years of age, he already had an inflated sense of ego and a lust for power, but being the bastard son of a bastard son of the Emperor might just do that. Trouble is, while his esteemed father is inside the Imperial circle and a recognized Royal, Va’el is another generation removed and is not. A small matter of matrimonial lack has left him cheated of a princely crown.
When you meet Va’el, you know there’s trouble ahead.