For the next few weeks, I'll be writing blog posts dedicated to each of my main characters from The Breacher. This being my first in the little series, what better way to start than with the novel's protagonist?
Nathan Hardline. That name has a special significance to me. He's my first main character from my first novel. He's someone that I'll carry with me through the rest of my writing career - the rest of my life, really! So, in a sense, I'm glad he turned out the way he did: an archetype of heroism. But, actually, he and I were on less than favorable terms for a while.
As I wrote my first draft, I narrated from Nathan's mind as I would from my own. Because of this, he ended up inheriting a lot of characteristics from my own personality. While we may differ in terms of the time we spend focusing on physical surroundings rather than thoughts, we have a similar outlook on the world around us. Nathan may not spend as much time pondering abstract concepts and philosophy as I do, but when he slows down in the chaos to take a breath, our two minds seem to overlap. We both see the beauty in the small, happy things in others' lives. We both hunt for the underlying causes and principles that form our society. We both have our hearts vested in the future and the grand scheme of things.
The fact that Nathan originated on paper as a boy so similar to myself was an idea that I ignored for the first few drafts. But I soon realized that when I looked at him, I didn't see a distinct human being. I saw a vessel through which the story was told. Of course, this was the result of my inexperience, as I wrote the story as if I was the main character. When the writer is the main character, a first-person narration can sometimes lean too close to a third-person narration. So, in later drafts, I separated the two of us by improving Nathan's own characteristics, reducing our similarities, and adding more introspection on his part. Since then, I've been able to see him as his own character.
But that mirror-like relationship we once shared is still very much alive beneath all of Nathan's layers. In a way, I suppose that's the best outcome with my first protagonist. I'll always be able to look back at the start of my career, at the character who predated all others - the grandfather of my future leads - and see my sixteen-year-old self somewhere deep in the heart of Nathan Hardline.