I’m really struggling to flesh out Chapter Three for several reasons; to begin, I’m introducing Liam Hayden, brother of my protagonist, Treva. The structure of my narrative rotates between the perspective of three family members: Treva, Liam and father Mike Hayden. The narrative reads distinctly as the thoughts of each, and therefore, in order to write Liam’s chapter, I must speak from his knowledge of the world, see things as he does.
I’m surprised that he has presented me such a struggle. The truth is this was supposed to be “his” story. At first blush, Liam was the protagonist, and I only saw the story from his eyes. So why am I not better acquainted with him?
I’ve only written the first page of Chapter Three, but it is enough to show me that I’m sadly trying to make him something he was never meant to be, and I am essentially shooting us both in the foot (can I shoot a fictional character’s foot?) by not figuring out what makes him tick.
In fact, I’ve found the challenge of writing for him so complex that twice now I’ve gone back to my outline to see if my story might work better if he just went bye-bye. Liam, however, is a critical character to both my main and impact characters without whom they would not be who they are “today.”
Everybody needs him, so I’d better find a quiet place to sit, envision him, and hopefully begin to see his choices and actions from his perspective.
Writer Michael Imlay aptly encouraged me to “Give him his due. If he’s so pivotal to so many lives, how does HE feel about that? Is he even aware of it?”
Good questions. I think I need to let go of my plan for his outcome, remembering that he doesn’t yet know what the future holds. I mustn’t allow him to behave as he will when he’s resolved problems that haven’t even even happened yet. He needs those conflicts to learn and grow.