Saturday, 9 March 2013

Character Focus - Cinaer

The more I write about Cinaer - Fire's Helian antagonist - the more I love him. Don't get me wrong - he's the bad guy, I don’t like him, but I do absolutely love writing about him. When Cinaer is in a scene, anything can happen; usually, the darker, the better.

But he didn't start out that way. In fact, in my first draft of Fire, Cinaer didn't exist at all.

Avery was a triplet: she had a brother, Riley and a sister, Darcy. Darcy was quickly dropped in favour of a guy as a potential love interest for Roxy, called Josh. Josh and Roxy were partners in crime, and had great fun planning what they were going to do to the Arcans. But still, the Helian group didn't work. Josh was too nice and Riley just wasn't needed; having them there didn't make the story better and that, really, is the most important factor to consider about a character.

To fix it, I dropped both characters and brought in Cinaer.

Cinaer was a little bit like Josh, but I renamed him using a name from a previous, abandoned idea, since the name sounded so Helian (cin, as in 'cinders'). He was supposed to be bad, but in a Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl kind of way; still attractive, still redeemable. He remained this way until I had a draft perfected enough to show to someone else, although I still wasn't completely happy.

Then my first reader told me that Cin wasn't mean enough - he shouldn't be the bad guy in need of saving - he had to be the guy everyone needed saving from.

And it proved oh so easy to make him that way. Cinaer isn't redeemable, he isn't likeable - he is the extreme version of what it means to be Helian - so convinced of his own superiority, his sense of his own entitlement, that there isn't space for any goodness. Cinaer became less 'cinders' and more 'sin'.

Many of my favourite characters are like this: Umbridge from Harry Potter being a perfect example. I focused an entire chapter of my University dissertation on Umbridge - for me, she is far darker and more menacing than Voldemort, Lestrange or Malfoy. This is because she is completely fueled by her desire for power, it overcomes any sense of morals or ethics - any regime will do, no matter how corrupt. Stephen King called her "the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter"

Right from the opening chapter of Fire, Cinear is in opposition to Roxy. They have an uneasy truce for most of the first book, but it quickly deteriorates. And by Air? Well, you're going to have to wait and see. But I think Umbridge would definitely be on his side...

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