In celebration of my "End of the Year Madness" event, author Holly Schindler wrote a guest post about her favorite character from Playing Hurt.
Clint - My Favorite Character from Playing Hurt
As an author, I know I’m fully fleshing out my characters when I start to like them. When they become people, instead of sentences on a page. When I see them every bit as clearly as I can see in my mind the living, breathing people I’ve met out and about in my hometown of Springfield, MO. The fleshing out of characters isn’t easy work, though. Just as it often takes time in real life to really get to know someone, it often takes multiple drafts until I finally feel as though I’ve “met” some of the characters in my books.
In PLAYING HURT, the YA I released this past March, I was the most pleasantly surprised to meet Clint—a character I didn’t get to interact with until the very last rewrite. Those of you who are familiar with the book are already frowning in confusion. “How could you not have met Clint until the last rewrite?” you’re asking. “He’s the love interest in your romance! Without Clint, you don’t even HAVE a love story!”
True enough. The thing is, though, when I first started to write PLAYING HURT, my intention was to illustrate the difference between loving someone and being IN LOVE with someone. Chelsea was a girl involved with her hometown high school sweetheart (Gabe), who went on a vacation with her family after graduation, and found herself falling for a resort guide (Clint) in a way that she never fell for her boyfriend at home.
Never did seem like the book had enough going on, though—I realized, just before the last rewrite, that it needed a subplot. That’s when I invented Chelsea’s sports history, when I made her an athlete…I got about a fourth of the way through that rewrite when I felt I needed to invent some backstory for Clint, as well…So I made him an athlete, too…But even that didn’t quite seem like enough.
The book (which I first drafted in around ‘04 or ’05) had always been told entirely from Chelsea’s POV. When I invented Clint’s backstory, though, I suddenly felt as though I needed to write from his POV, too. When I started writing chapters from his eyes, I felt I was finally, finally, FINALLY getting a chance to meet Clint—REALLY meet Clint, in a way I never had, even though I’d lived with the story for about five years at that point. I started to love him, as a character…and I think that my falling in love with him allowed my readers to fall, too…When the book released, I was absolutely thrilled to read blog reviews that claimed Clint was a completely “swoon-worthy” protagonist!
It really is true, though—as an author, your own feelings for your characters bleed through into your story. Once you truly understand—even love—your characters, your readers have a better chance of loving them, too!
Holly Schindler is participating in my huge End of the Year Madness Giveaway, so be sure to enter for your chance to win a swag pack from her! It includes a signed bookplate, signed bookmark, and button.