Mistreating characters

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the people of Pitkirtly decided to form a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Characters before long. I really haven’t been very nice to some of my long-running mystery novel characters in the latest one of the series, and this tendency has got even worse as the editing process has continued.

It’s not that I’m a particularly cruel and heartless person in real life, although I suppose anyone who writes murder mysteries must have some sort of deep-seated urge to get rid of some of her fellow-human beings – although maybe by sending them to Australia, or to the moon, or into a parallel universe and not by killing them. I suppose it’s just that during the course of a novel things have to happen to the characters, and for the sake of variety some of the things have to be bad!

Only this past week I decided to torment that sweet and innocent person, Jan from the wool-shop, an activity which I must admit has been quite good fun as it has meant bringing her out into the spotlight and having a closer look at her appearance and the way she dresses, i.e. in hand-knitted jumpers, often with big knobbly flowers stitched on to them. Sometimes a character stays in the shadows for so long that it’s hard to picture them at all, and my excuse for doing something bad to them is that they deserve their hour on stage. However in Jan’s case I have drawn the line at having her carted off to hospital, or worse, and I have even thought of something nice to do to her in the next novel to make up for my cruelty. I don’t think divulging this is going to be a huge spoiler, because poor old Jan seems destined to live on the periphery for ever and not to have an entire plot devoted to her mediocre life. But I may be completely wrong about this, especially now that I’ve written it down here. The way my mind works is so contrary that part of it is already working on ways to make her a star.

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