Found him

I just figured out Daeven, my protagonist for Unseen. It took a long time for me to understand him, much longer than any of my other leads.

It was worth the wait. Unseen is flowing now. I’ll be caught up and past the WriMo goals tonight. I might be now, actually. Scrivener is telling me Daeven just wrote 2000 words.

This may be the most complicated character I’ve ever helped to find a page and I am very excited to find the story that he wants to tell me.

 

Excerpt: Huntress (Makers, AOS vol 4)

From Makers: Ages of the Seed, Vol 4

Why yes, I do have most of volume 4 drafted despite volume 1 going out for draft feedback only this week. Don’t you judge me.

This chapter introduces Cree Chiwa, who is not a very nice person. JS Malpas’ post this morning (Tip #26: Characters Who Do Bad Things) made me think of her. Chiwa does bad things. She’s not the only character in Makers who does bad things but she is the only otherwise rational character who does them because she enjoys them. That was difficult to get my brain behind while I wrote her.

I use a few sources for inspiration when writing her as I (hopefully obviously) have no personal experience with the things she does. In her normal state she is tightly controlled (Arthur Denker from Apt Pupil / S. King). When she loses control she loses it completely and animalistically* (the husband from Shadowfires / D.Koontz). She is also emotionally abusive and controlling in a very methodical fashion (Gregory Anton from Gaslight).

Scene/terminology – Makers is a fantasy setting. Chiwa is in the city state of Rosoph, famed for its trade goods. Weaving/Making/Harping are types of magic in this world.

There is some fairly violent content in this excerpt.

* Wordified – You know what it means, even if spellchecker doesn’t.

Continue reading “Excerpt: Huntress (Makers, AOS vol 4)”

How do you build a character?

My characters tend to pop out and develop in one of two ways.

  1. Simple – I need an archetype character for a scene. I’ll take the extract characteristics for the archetype, trash what I don’t like about it, and add inconsistencies. Voila, minor character complete(ish). This allows for quick generation without the ‘archetype clone’ feel.
  2. Complex – For characters who will stick around a bit I want much more depth. For these I generally start by throwing them into the story and seeing how they swim. Once I’ve written a bit of them and have some dialog/activity to look at I figure out WHY they said and did those things. That then forms the character base; the things that I need to do consistently with the character.

Let me show what I mean. This is the opening for a chapter in Makers. Tyche is an established character en route with a caravan. I needed 2 people around a campfire with him so took advantage of this to introduce Muril, who will be a recurring (complex) character. I had no idea what to do for the other guy but figured Tyche had to be riding in a coach so poof – coach driver Dobbs.

Dobbs is a simple character, a quickly defined coachman. I decide he’s an independent, not part of the caravan owner’s people. He’s gruff, has an outrageous accent and a gambling problem.

Muril I just let happen at this point.

“An then ye add oop ol the cairds wi the same suit. And then ye double check Muril’s numbers. Te sonofabitch cain’t add fer shite.” So saying, the coach driver threw his cards down onto the pot and said “Fer en twenny”.

“Twenty seven” the aforementioned Muril said, tossing his cards onto the table. “And I add just fine, Dobbs. I can about do it from the marks on the backs of your cards.” Muril turned to Tyche as he raked in the pot. “Well then, sirrah. Stake is 5 chits. Are you in?”

“I think it would hardly be fair” Tyche responded.

“Muril’s jest tryin to rile me. The cairds are true” interjected the coachman.

“Be that as it may, with only 41 cards it would be frightfully simple to determine what is in each players’ hand. It would not be gambling so much as collecting a tithe.”

Muril laughed heartily. “Well then how could you refuse such simple coin? Come on then, man. I have most of Dobb’s money to lose. It’s not like there’s better entertainment available.”

“Very well” answered Tyche. “But please maintain your composure as the game progresses.”

After this I went back and looked deeper at Muril. I decided he knew Dobbs before this trip so I can infer from just that tidbit plus his actions above:

  • He knows Dobbs has a gambling problem. That means Muril is knowingly taking advantage of him. This speaks to his jovial nature being somewhat misleading.
  • Muril is a bit sneaky and preys on weakness.
  • He’s beating Dobbs, who has (presumably) some extensive experience with the game they are playing. So Muril is intelligent and perceptive, traits that do well for a roguish character and fit well with what I eventually want him to do.
  • He banters and speaks well. I decide he is at least fairly charismatic.
  • Why is he trying to get Tyche to play? To win more money or something deeper? I decided it was both. He’s an opportunist so responds to possible additional winnings. Since he is perceptive I figure he has noticed some of Tyche’s oddities and wants to find out more. That makes him a very curious man, something that also fits in well with where I want him to go later.

So I end up with a character with a strong core, an-archetypal, that I can base consistent future actions on as he continues to develop.

Where do your characters come from?