O Muses, O high genius, aid me now! Dante – The Inferno, In Canto II
Some ancient Greek’s believed in three Muses, some nine, others ten.
All of them tasked with equipping those among us who are ‘artistic’ with inspiration.
During my arduous journey into the inner workings of my characters, I have had the help of my own Muses.
For the character of Nick, the male lead of my slowly coming along novel, I have just one Muse.
Nick is hard to write because I’ve never met anyone like him and therefore certainly have nothing in my current everyday life to base him on. Apparently, the key to writing is to “write what you know”. I suppose in a few different ways, he is the conglomeration of a few people I’ve met over the years, but I’ve never come across anyone quite like him. He’s a mystery and I think, ultimately, he’s a mystery even unto himself.
So out comes the Muse. When all else fails and I’m trying to imagine what Nick looks like and sounds like, I picture a particular actor who I have seen portray characters with a similar set of characteristics to Nick. I think Nick is a bit neurotic – the actor who inspired his outward appearance plays neurotic on such a subtle, masterful level, that it was impossible for me not to think of him when I was writing Nick.
There’s no point naming the actor who keeps Nick alive and well in my head. It’d cloud your judgment of him when you meet him in the story and it will not add to the reading experience. When I read a book, I like to imagine who I like in the roles of the main characters. That’s part of the beauty of fiction – the reader get’s to cast who they want and imagine what they fancy, simply based on the instructions that you have provided them with.
This actor is a belting choice and I suppose, there will be a few affectionate nods in his direction throughout the narrative, but too subtle for anyone other than those who know who I’ve mentally cast for my writing purposes, will get.
He is my Muse as I write, but what he’ll transfer into when a reader get’s hold of it is anyone’s guess.
My Muse has also sort of inspired me to add a bit more depth to my characterization of Nick. I know what this guy can do on screen and from interviews I’ve seen or read, he appears to be a good bloke/laugh in general. I have sort of raided my own perception of this person to help me build Nick, but it is not based on this person’s life in any way, shape, or form. How could I, even if I wanted to? Nick is odd, there is no doubt about that. Although I do think this actor is odd too, Nick’s unique strangeness is just from a whole different realm.
When the story is done with and I no longer require my Muse to sit in the random universe of my imagination, acting out scenes and reading back dialogue to me, I’ll pack him off back to whence he came. That must make me some sort of literary tart: I use and abuse my Muses for all their worth and then toss their sorry asses out into the unyielding bleakness of nothingness. I am such a ho.
For now though, I’ll just go make him a nice imaginary brew and bring him a nice chocolate Hob-Nob to keep him on side.