Friday, August 25, 2017

The Character Map

                                                  Does the monochrome effect add mystery?

About 3000 years ago I did a blog about names and what images certain names can conjure up. Often I have to try a name on a character like a hat to see if it fits. Nigel St John would never come from Glasgow, neither would Richard St John but Robert Guthrie is very unlikely to be English and Lilly Knickerhammer is likely to come from a place where the capital city  would boast a about their excellent ski jumping facility. It will be in the town centre between the taxi rank and the off licence (liquor store). 
                                             Does the sepia add age?

                                              Rich colour filter seems to add aroma.

So it's then a little awkward when a character name goes up for auction. It's even worse when it has been bought by a family so their dad can go in the novel. And the writer knows the dad.
That happened to me two weeks ago in a an auction for the local hospice.
                                               heightened realism with high colour?

 I am 30 000 words into the book- and stuck!

                                                        Back to the 60's?

Previously, a lawyer in Glasgow bid successfully to be in a novel of mine. So far so good. He took on the persona of a young detective who bobbled about and did his stuff.  I did have a wee pang of conscience when I wrote that character involved in a sex scene that lasted a couple of lines. I emailed the real owner of that name and asked him if he was okay about it. His response was, if he was involved in the sex scene ,it would go on for the entire chapter at least.
                                                  Does the fade add melancholy.
So I killed him a few pages later. ( The fictional one not the real one. I'm an osteopath not a psychopath)
                            Don't know why but this looks like a hit man is ready to focus in...

But you don't mess with Ramsay.

 I think I stabbed him, or ran him over, or maybe both knowing me. 

So now, it's happening again with this book WT The Sideman. I've known this man for  20 years and as I know him so well, it's really affecting my writing of the character. As the book goes on, the character is slowly evolving to be him rather than be the character I set out to write. And no matter what I do, it's in my consciousness that it's HIM. 

Talking about it at Bute Noir, it was suggested that I call the character something else and then do a  find /replace at the end. I think that might have worked if the novel was already written but all this went on right at the start of this novel so I’m kind of stuck with it.

People do have great fun with it of course. One very famous person in Scottish medical legal circles buys the right to use her mother in laws name and requests that the name be used for some low life crack cocaine addict whore who ends up dead in a skip somewhere near the Renfrew Ferry, pecked by seagulls and nibbled by rats.  Then the  finished book is  gifted to the mother in law at Christmas. This has been  going on for a few years now and the mother in law still hasn’t twigged that this is not a coincidence. To be fair I do think great care is taken over spellings and variations of the name just to confuse the issue. But it's one way to liven up Christmas dinner.


But all this is better than a book having no characters at all, cardboard cut outs who walk on stage, say their piece and walk off again. Agatha Christie is often accused of having characters that are little more than plot markers to carry out the plot but I’ve never seen them that way, or maybe my imagination just paints them large in my mind. 

I wish it would do the same with the character who may or may not be my friend's dad, Mr Alistair Patrick. And there’s another annoying thing. He could just as easy be Patrick Alistair. So when his superiors are being terse with him and using his surname, it has no effect whatsoever as they just call him Patrick.

I’ll just finish this blog on a personal note, I’ve a book coming out on 30 November - The Suffering Of  Strangers -which is right in the middle of National Book Week Scotland so I am here, there and everywhere that week. I am appearing at Bloody Scotland interviewing the testosterone panel; Simon Kernick, Simon Toyne and Hayden Beck so my heads full of Glocks, explosives and man's stuff. The next morning I am on a very intellectual panel with very little testosterone, all female including the lovely Lisa Brackmann, Alex Sokoloff and her from Arachnophobia.

We are also doing the play again so Letitia  Luvibody is alive and well and I believe the author is working on the sequel, Carry on Sleuthing 2 Murder at the Knickerage where the case is investigated by Inspector Smalls. 

I suspect that humour might not travel well …..

I suspect that at least 2 of my fellow bloggers can place where these pics were taken within a couple of yards.
Caro Ramsay 25th August 2017


  1. Caro, In no particulat order: i get the jokes. But I laughed out loud in the first paragraph. I love this discussion about character. names. I renamed a character for similar reasons and it changed her personality too. For the better I think (HOPE). I recognize the place, but rather than reveal it, I want to see if that other guy, who's been on that other island, recognizes it with its inhabitants fully clothed.

  2. It was a truly lovely day in that place Annamaria - and I think a certain lady showed us how to cope with the local traffic about 24 hours later. And we had Halloween Cookies and coffee!!!

  3. And here I was wondering why Scotland looked so much like...the place where I played ball for many years, where Barbara still runs around (literally around), and the world comes to gather on sunny afternoons. --while waiting to buy a copy of "The Suffering of Strangers."