Today we have a giveaway of a signed copy of The Trajectory of Dreams and a snippet called “Developing Dark Characters” from its author Nicole Wolverton.
Let’s welcome Nicole!
Developing Dark Characters ~ by Nicole Wolverton
There’s a stereotype about dark characters that, I think, stems from comic book villains. Many of them are fairly one-dimensional—just some guy with a maniacal laugh, intent on blowing up the hero or the town for no other reason than that they want to. The antagonist in a novel needs a bit more than that, or often they can come off flat.
Lela White, the main character in my novel THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS, is a dark character. She breaks into the homes of astronauts while they sleep. She creeps around their houses, touching their things and standing over their beds. Worse, she’s a threat: if one of them should wake up, she’s prepared to kill. She’s a straight up dangerous stalker. It would have been easy for me to just say, Well, this is just who she is, and she has no hopes and dreams or reasons.
Of course, that’s a pretty boring story. Don’t you want to know why she does it? Isn’t a book like THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS made richer, more real, and perhaps spookier if you understand and, dare I say, empathize with Lela just a little?
For me, that’s the key to developing dark characters: to understand a criminal or serial killer and recognize yourself in them in some way is the most frightening thing in the world. Take Dexter, for instance. Now look—I hope you’re not a serial killer in disguise, but we do root for Dexter. We want him to be successful. He’s an incredibly dark character, no question. But he’s also complex and, in his darkness, he works on the side of good on some level, and that’s what makes him so compelling. Lela is cut from the same cloth. Oh sure, her mental disorder puts everyone she comes in contact with in mortal danger, but she thinks her actions serve the greater good. She’s a hero in her own head, and an unsung hero at that. And as you’re reading THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS, you start to wonder if she’s really so crazy, if there might be something to her theories . . . which makes you complicit in her criminal actions.
When I’m writing a dark character, it’s important to include a Save the Cat moment in the plot. It’s a moment where your main character does something unselfish and good, thus making himself seem like a fine, upstanding citizen worthy of admiration and love. Most of the time, it’s the good guy who gets the Save the Cat moment, but it’s just as important for villains in many cases because it complicates the plot and leads to identification with the bad guy. And that’s never a bad thing.
About The Trajectory of Dreams: Publishers Weekly calls THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS (Bitingduck Press) a "skillful mainstream examination of a psychotic woman’s final descent into insanity."
The novel exposes the chaotic inner life of Lela White, a sleep lab technician and mentally ill insomniac who believes she has been tasked with protecting the safety of the revitalized U.S. space shuttle program. She breaks into the homes of astronauts to watch them sleep, and she is prepared to kill to keep those with sleep problems from the shuttle launch. Her delicate grasp on reality becomes more tenuous when annoying co-worker Trina Shook insists on moving into her house and visiting Russian cosmonaut Zory Korchagin inserts himself into Lela's life. Korchagin's increasing interest puts her carefully-constructed world at risk of an explosion as surely as he does his own upcoming launch. Lela's tragic childhood unfolds throughout the novel, revealing the beginnings of her illness and long-buried secrets, and as Lela’s universe unravels, no one is safe.
About the author: Nicole Wolverton fears many things, chief amongst them that something lurks in the dark. From ghosts to stalkers, her adult and young adult fiction plays on the mundane and not-so-mundane things that frighten us all. THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS is her debut novel. She is a freelance writer and editor and lives in the Philadelphia area with her husband, dog, and two cats. http://nicolewolverton.com/
Enter to win a signed copy of THE TRAJECTORY OF DREAMS, along with a lucky key ring for US or Canadian residents.
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