Monday, October 26, 2009

Nice to Meet You...I Will Be Your Author for This Book (Part II)

So just over a week ago, I wrote about how as an author, you have to spend time getting to know your character. Oddly enough, I started reading a new book the other day that coincidentally relates.

The premise of Raymond Queneau's the flight of is icarus is about an author who has lost his main character after only "10 or 15 pages" and begins a desperate search to find him, as he had high hopes for this character. 

At first he is convinced that one of his colleagues has stolen the character. He hires a literary detective to track down his missing character (who actually blew off the pages and out the window when the novelist carelessly left his manuscript out on morning). Here's edited excerpt from his first meeting with the detective (The ... indicates part of the passage I left out):

HUBERT Well then. Let me introduce myself: Hubert Lubert, a novelist by profession, by vocation, even, and I might add, of some renown. Since I am a novelist, then, I write novels. And since I write novels, I deal with characters. And now one of them has vanished. Literally. A novel I had just begun, about ten pages, fifteen at the most, and in which I had placed the highest hopes, an now the principal character, whom I had barely begun to outline, disappears. As I obviously cannot continue without him, I have come to ask you to find him for me.


 MORCOL All right, all right. Obviously you haven’t got a photograph.

 HUBERT Obviously not.

 MORCOL Allow me to ask you a few questions. Age?

HUBERT Young, as I saw him.


MORCOL Special peculiarities?

HUBERT I haven’t given him any.

MORCOL Residence?

HUBERT I intended him to live in the rue Bleue.

MORCOL What number?

HUBERT An odd number.

MORCOL Which one? There are quite a lot.

HUBERT I haven’t decided yet.

MORCOL None of this helps me very much.

HUBERT As I told you, I’d only just begun him.

MORCOL Has he any relations? Any friends?

HUBERT I haven’t thought about that yet, but I have very pure fiancĂ©e in mind for him.

MORCOL Does he like her?

HUBERT We haven't reached that point yet.

Queneau is such a fantastic writer of dialogue, I've always been able to hear the inflections in the voices without any effort. And he has a great sense of humor which shows through in subtle word play that I've always enjoyed. This particular passage cracked me up, as just last week, I would have felt much like Hubert trying to describe my main character. 

I'm happy to report that me and my character are much closer now. We've bonded. Then again, she's only about 10-15 pages old, so I'd better be sure not to lose her in a strong wind. 

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