One of my favourite approaches to writing a novel — the one I return to again and again — is to allow myself to become the central character, to tell the story as if I were the I-guy, as if I’ve lived the story and am now recounting it, for the benefit of myself as well as my audience.
For me, it always lends a degree of authenticity. I find it much easier to tell the story, acting it out in my head, assessing my reactions and using them to give form to the fiction. Because of this, I suppose, my narrators have a lot of “me” in them — however reshaped and disguised! Their thoughts and reactions to given circumstances may be radically different to my own, but they come from a place that I have, at least temporarily, visited. I draw on what I know, on what I am, but that’s only the beginning.
And my other characters? The ones that move around my narrator, touch him, love him, hate and hurt him? What of them?
When it comes to them the process is far more difficult to pinpoint. They are written by the observations of my narrator — by what he sees and how he interprets that. His bias possibly conceals the truth of their reality, even from me…
… and maybe that’s where the real story is. In the things that we — as readers and writers — can only guess at.