Sunday, October 26, 2008

Where I'm at, part two

Bael's character.

Another sidenote on revising this book: I actually finished my own revisions and sent it to my editor several months ago, completely forgetting she was getting married in the autumn and therefore taking some time off, so it took her a while to come back to me. It's for this reason that I've been able to get some distance from the book. Had she replied within a week I'd probably have thrown a tantrum because she Didn't Get It. Now I can see what she's getting at, but while I was still so close to the book, I wouldn'tve been able to.

Now, onto Bael, my unheroic hero.

The beginning of the book is in Kett's POV, so we first meet Bael through her eyes. In fact, we don't see him so much as feel him: Kett and Bael are strung up in a dark cave, so all she can see is his dark hair and a white smile. She can really feel him, however. And what she feels is so pleasant she assumes she's having a hot dream.

On waking and realising that the situation's a bit more nightmarish, Kett freaks out and it's Bael who calms her down. Now, I'd forgotten about this. During the rest of the book, Bael's not precisely calm or soothing. He's a complete nutcase. The next scene sees him beating up a kelf (an elf-like creature who serves and protects humans).

Bael does have a reason for not liking kelfs: he's a creature called a Nasc that I introduced in Almost Human, part human and part animal. Since kelfs believe themselves to be inferior to humans but superior to animals, they find Nasc to be very unnatural and try to avoid them. Bael would have gone along with this, but he's been told his mother was killed by a kelf, and the resentment has built up. But has it built up enough to justify his attack on a creature who wasn't doing anything to him at the time?

His extreme dislike of kelfs is something Kett uses to remind herself that she shouldn't be with him. It's part of her proof that he's not worthy of being loved. From her point of view, a kelf would never hurt anyone, and Bael's insistence that she's wrong irritates her even more.

I've been dithering about this scene. I want to demonstrate that Bael is unpredictable and violent, just like Kett, but that doesn't make him very likeable. At the end of the book he finds himself relying on and fighting beside a kelf, having grown a little bit. He has become a Better Person. But when the reader first meets him, is she going to think, "Okay, he's angry about a kelf killing his mother," or, "Okay, he's a psychopath"?

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