Dorothy Sayers wrote an excellent and fascinating book with the title The Mind of the Maker. It is actually a treatise on the theology of the Trinity – but since it is told from the focus of a writer, specifically, it is a wonderful read. You can find it HERE on Amazon.
She talks of the three parts to a work – the Idea behind the work, the Energy involved in creating the work, and the Power that arises from the work – the reaction that readers have to it, and the way it changes them. My copy is hopelessly marked up.
One of the most enjoyable discussions (for me) is her talk about the nature of characters, and how they have to arise out of a plot and be firmly centered in the plot to have any reality. She gives as an example a passage from Writing Aloud by J D Beresford in which he tells about his attempt to write a book based on a character that he dreamed up. It was a shambles. The minute he put this character into a story, other characters, arising from the story itself, and conceived of as being in a situation took over. They were immensely more powerful and more compelling.
Interesting, I thought all those years ago. Something to mull over and marvel at.
And then it happened in my writing.
Pharaoh’s Son takes its title for the literal translation of the Egyptian term for ‘Prince’. It is ‘King’s Son’, or ‘Pharaoh’s Son’. Since the book involves a number of princes, I thought it appropriate.
The main character is a son of Ramesses the Great, well-attested in history with a character that comes through clearly across the centuries. Historically, he was a scholar and was credited with being the first archaeologist in history. He served as High Priest of Ptah and Governor of Memphis, and was Crown Prince at the end of his life. He fulfilled these roles with such distinction that he was remembered as a wise man for centuries after his death.
With these attributes, how can such a character help but be splendid?
Well, my would-be main character was overshadowed by his brother, the Crown Prince of Egypt, who stepped into the story as a quasi-villain, had a turnaround, and ended up stealing the show. A character in a situation, he was far more powerful than his brother, far more interesting…
The original hero ended up holding his own, and we had two main characters. It worked.
And it provided for me a very good illustration of Beresford’s situation.