I’ve just been having a fascinating conversation about the differences between personality and behaviour; loosely speaking, the differences between the things we can change about ourselves: our behaviour, and the things we can’t: our personalities.
Hopefully, as we get older, the two things come closer together, our behaviour mirrors more closely our personalities and we are able to be truer to ourselves and more transparent to others.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
I am given to wonder, though, whether this is true for the characters that we invent.
Do they have internal lives? are they complex? Is it truly possible, as a writer, to be sane and yet to keep a number of very real people in my mind all at the same time?
Honestly, I do not know the answer to this question. I do not know whether I know my characters entirely. I do not know whether there is more to learn about them that I will never know unless I need to know those things. If the book I am writing doesn’t take those characters into certain situations will some questions about their personalities ever be answered? Is their a difference between a character’s personality and his behaviour? I suppose if the piece is written in the omniscient third person there is room for that, but what of other structures?
The hero of “Naming Names” spoke to me. I always felt that she had a life of her own and a voice of her own. I always felt that there were things about her that she did not choose to tell me. I always felt that she had a life outside of the novel, and that she would continue to have a life out in the World when she had finished with me.
Perhaps that says more about my personality than it does about hers. That I write about it speaks volumes.