My Self-Publishing Adventure, Day 5. Or: OMGILLUSTRATIONSEEE! Or: All About Echo

Today is all about illustrations. Because Jessica rocks. Hard core.

For example:


May I present, Echo the Spiderbot! He’s adorable, no? Jessica designed him based on pulleys and ball-jointed-dolls. Since he was made by Books, who is a Kid no matter how brilliant an inventor he might be, Echo’s a crazy patchwork of metal and grommets. Contrary to what is probably popular belief (or will be, once everyone has heard of him), I did not come up with the idea for a spiderbot from Wild, Wild West or Steampunk memes. He actually started out as a robotic backpack for Books. Him being a spider was just a clever way (yes, I think I might be clever from time to time… shh), of making him pretty danged sweet on top of it.

And no, I don’t like real spiders. I hateses them. But Echo isn’t your ordinary spider. When The Crows’ Nest comes out in a week (EEE!) you will meet Echo and see just how very awesome he has become.
Hm… that brings me to another subject, so maybe this isn’t ALL about illustrations after all. But hey, a manuscript develops haphazardly, so why not a blog right?

Character development.

I know, blah blah blah. Every wannabe writer with a blog has written about character development, and those who don’t have blogs TALK about it all the time. I know. But that’s just because we LOVE it. And probably not for reasons most people would think. Yes, creating a character is sort of akin to giving birth (minus the bloating and pain and blood and silly stuff like that), and on top of that we can often make them do anything we want!

Muahahahahaha! 

Sorry.

Being a writer can give anyone a God complex at times. *Ahem.*

Anyway, in case you missed it, I said “often” up there. Not “always”. Because what many people don’t know is that we writers actually only have about 50% control over our characters at any given time. Good characters, anyway. It’s true. We can put together a painstaking character biography including things like physical appearance, age, gender, and key personality traits, but in the end, once that story starts coming together and the character is given life within the context of that story, a good character just grows on their own, becoming so much more than we, their creators, ever dreamed.

And that is breathtaking.

Children become their own people pretty fast. That’s natural. Because they are real people. As any parent can tell you, it’s inevitable. Anyone who has a kid so they can raise their own Mini-Me should probably rethink the whole thinking thing altogether. But this is not true with fictional characters. It’s not hard to make them flat, two-dimensional, and just wrong by being too controlling, keeping them confined in the box that we created them in. But when we get them right, when they have the freedom to take off and grow and change during the story, then they become real. It’s when we sit back, chuckle at the screen, and say “what are you doing, silly little creation of mine?” that we know… we’ve done something right. Not only does the character become real then, but they manipulate the story into something with a million more times the depth of its origin, which in-turn changes the characters even more… and on and on until the world we have created is a living, breathing organism. One into which the reader can not only escape, but believe.

This brings me back to Echo.

As I said, he started out being a little less than a sidekick, and I ran through tons of ideas for Books’ “pet” before hitting on Echo’s design. I didn’t really think much of him past the initial “Books needs a cool robot sidekick with a wow-factor for the kids” idea. But when I finally rewrote the scene I decided to introduce him in, he almost literally lept off the screen at me. Instantly, Echo was a character all his own. In fact, he’s a pretty big deal further down the road in later books. Why? Because he insisted on it. I can’t really explain that. It just… happens.

So, that’s it for my ramblings today. I have to get back to my actual manuscript (and Return to Igh Schoo, as I’m pretty sure my readers will kill me with pitchforks if it’s not ready pretty fast after the debut of The Crows’ Nest). That said, once October hits and I’m in graduate school, brace yourseves for a lot of book reviews, since I plan on cheating on my blog with my term papers.

Just sayin’…

One Response to “My Self-Publishing Adventure, Day 5. Or: OMGILLUSTRATIONSEEE! Or: All About Echo”

  1. […] morganmarshallworlds Worlds to Explore « My Self-Publishing Adventure, Day 5. Or: OMGILLUSTRATIONSEEE! Or: All About Echo […]

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