by Annette Young
Have you been watching the new BBC drama Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling? Written by Robert Galbraith aka J.K. Rowling, it’s a 3-part series and as a huge fan of the books, I was particularly interested in how they would turn the story into a short series considering the audio version is incredibly long.
Whether you have read the book or, just like a good crime drama, there are important points to note. Although the plot has to be strong, and it actually is, characterisation is all-important in these types of books and must be strong so to portray well on the screen. There has to be something a little different about the protagonist and there is.
In the books, I liked Strike, the craggy-looking and sounding private investigator. Admittedly, the audio version has a wonderful narrator in Robert Glenister but even so, he comes across as likeable, eccentric and with quite a few demons of his own. His flaws no doubt make him believable and the fact that he is a veteran soldier and had lost part of his leg in an explosion makes him vulnerable and yet, displays great inner strength too. It’s this mixture of traits that make readers buy into him.
I was pleased to see that even in these shortened episodes, they had managed to capture these traits and you couldn’t help but root for him and for his new, obviously capable secretary who appears honest and more than a little competitive. It’s her inner drive that takes her from being his temp secretary to someone who plays a significant role in the murder investigation. This is clever characterisation.
It’s not always easy to create two eminently likeable characters who gel together as well. Even though the drama misses out the important disharmony between the secretary Robin and her fiancée, where jealousy about her association with Strike becomes an ugly conflicting emotion between them. The dramatization is still strong regardless.
If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do. If you are watching it, try to consider how you would turn one of your stories or novels into a TV series, picture your characters on the screen and you will also gain an idea as to how much you know them. This is a key aspect for any writer. Know your characters inside out and consider what will make your readers like or dislike them. If you can visualise the characters and the scenes as if watching a TV drama, while writing, you will be able to make this become a positive habit.