I’ve officially forgotten what week of the Blog Tour this is. However, I’m amazed at the superlative talent of the writers who have graced my blog in the past. Today I’m honored to introduce another. And here he is. . . . . . . .
Sometimes a character takes a writer on a voyage of discovery before a story is finished. Join Scott Seldon as he tells us about what it took to bring Ven Zaran to life.
Pulling Teeth – A Journey From Trader to Smuggler
Characters are strange things for writers. Some come to us fully formed and some only become fully realized after we get to know them. I’ve had both, but the more interesting ones are the ones that have taken some work. The main character of my current series, Ven Zaran, has required 3 novels and 3 short stories to arrive at where he is.
Ven Zaran came into being when I wrote my first novel. His great-grandson was the protagonist. That novel, as many first novels are, is flawed and sitting in a digital drawer gathering dust bytes. But something about the backstory I’d created inspired me to delve into Ven further. As I started the first draft of Well of Dreams, Ven was squeaky clean. But my first pass at the story was flawed. As I took a break and revised where things were going, suddenly Ven went from being a straight laced trader to a rugged smuggler.
But the story still had more to tell me about this character. Creating a smuggler was all well and good, but SF is full of those, something I must have subconsciously realized. Ven was more like Han Solo and Mal Reynolds for a couple of chapters before my love of Sherlock Holmes reared its head. But it wasn’t the great sleuth’s powers of deduction that influenced me, it was his flaws. Holmes is a towering intellect and a hopeless addict. Suddenly Ven was an addict. And I rightly say suddenly, because two of the people I let read that draft both commented how his sudden addiction didn’t seem real. I had a problem with no solution.
My problem was that I didn’t know this man yet. Here I had written an entire novel about him and I liked where it had taken him, but not where he had started. As I pondered it, I knew what I wasn’t going to change about the story so I proceeded to write the next installment of his journey. I chose a nice safe story, a grand adventure with pirates. I spent time developing who he was at that moment. It was after writing the second novel that I finally found the fix for the first half of Well of Dreams. He no longer became a smuggler or drug addict, he had always been. But there were deeper things to learn about him.
I felt confident and tackled the next story I had for Ven. It has a tragic beginning and sets Ven on a roller coaster ride of emotions. By the time I was done, I knew much more about this man. I went back and edited all three novels back to back. Still something was lacking. I just had to figure out what. Then I had a fellow writer read it. She wasn’t supposed to read the whole thing,just the first couple of chapters, but she liked it. Just one bad thing, Ven came across as whiny. He may be a drugged out Smuggler through a lot of that novel, but whiny wasn’t my intention. It wasn’t who he was in the other two novels or the short story I’d also written by then.
The one area I hadn’t touched on very much was his past. Oh, I’d talked about his wife, his previous captain, but I hadn’t gone back further. Something told me that the beginning of Well of Dreams demanded something different and to get it I had to go back in time. I went back 22 years to find a young Ven in the process of getting fired by his captain for his drug problem. He didn’t think he had a problem. He was fine. He stumbled on the right captain, a man with a past himself who hired misfits he saw something more in. Now I had Ven on the course and I filled in the pieces. Meeting his future wife, finding something to bury his past, starting a family and buying his first ship. The short trilogy I came up with is shorter than two chapters if the novels, but it is rich in his past and who this man is. Even so, there is much that came to me as I wrote it that isn’t in there.
Now I had him. Ven was complete. I did another editing pass on Well of Dreams and all the pieces finally fell into place. There is more to him than is on the page. He isn’t whiny, he’s a dangerous weapon ready to spring, but he can’t. He is still a smuggler like Solo and Reynolds. He still is a recovering drug addict. But now there is a bit of Tony Soprano in him,
a dark side that makes the events of all three stories make sense. It also led to a subplot of the fourth novel, the one I’m currently working on.
Ven has been on a long journey form the famous trader his great-grandson idolized to a three dimensional person with skills and flaws. Now he is someone worth getting to know. I certainly hope readers will agree when they join me on his journey.
Now that I’ve shared my journey to find Ven, if you are a writer, has one of your characters taken you on a similar journey? If you aren’t a writer, do you have a favorite character where the writer has taken you on a journey of discovery where you learned something important about them that made them even better?
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Scott Seldon lives with his family in Colorado and works as an IT administrator. Visit his website (sites.google.com/site/scottrseldon/) for the latest updates and to find where his books are sold.
Thank you so much Scott for stopping by and sharing this interesting story with us!
Also, this week Amadi Kyymm is being hosted by Scott Seldon. You are invited to stop in and read how she invented her characters and their names at: