Thursday, 21 February 2013

Journey of a Story...Part Three: Character Development

Yes, here is another Journey to a Story or a whimsical trip through the mind of a writer.  Sometimes in colour, sometimes in black and white, but always filled with interesting characters and places.  The first part was about how going to a foreclosed house and seeing a cistern gave me a story idea and the second was how I decided to use the template, if you will, of some old characters of mine.  If you haven’t read those and would like to here are the links.  PartOne: The Idea  Part Two: The Characters

Every writer writes their characters differently.  There are some that go in blank.  They don’t know anything about their characters and are as surprised as you are when something new comes up.  Then there are those who know their characters better than they know themselves.  For the characters in this story idea I wanted to know as much as I could, but still be open to those little surprises.

It may sound strange to you that the writers get surprises in their stories as they write them, but we don’t always know what is going to happen.  As we write the characters, character builds and they get more lifelike in our mind.  We could be writing a conversation thinking it will go one way and then suddenly a character says something that is in line with who they are, but what we didn’t expect.  Okay, I will expect the guys with the white coat with extra-long arms to show up any time.

Chef Bryan Voltaggio
inspiriation for Spencer Alcrest
Weeks, months actually, after first visiting the house I was thinking about the male character.  I didn’t want to start writing the story yet because I was still working on my second novel, but I thought I could work on character since he was going to be different than the one in my other novel.  At this time I was also watching old Top Chef episodes.  I had missed a couple of seasons.  I was watching season 6 and thought this guy, Bryan Voltaggio, would be a good outline for my guy.  He’s a great chef, specific on detail, but not too willing to take chances.  Square rugged face, blond hair, clean cut.  He was different that my other characters, that was for sure.  I haven’t been able to ask for permission to use his image at all so an artist friend is going to do a drawing of him that I can hopefully go off of.  He’s going to have some different tattoo’s and I will play with some other things.  The pig one will still be there but underneath with will read "Suck the Marrow" after a quote by Thoreau and on the right arm it will be a lobster crawling down.  There will also be the James Joyce quote, "God made food; the Devil cooks."

As for a name my main character in my Red Island novel is named Reid after the character Dr. Spencer Reid in the TV show Criminal Minds.  There was a recent episode where they were trying to save the woman he had fallen in love with.  So I thought of naming the characters Spencer and Maeve after them.  Spencer kinda fits the male character (who owns a restaurant, but that is in Part Four) but the girls name changed.  As for Spencer's last name it was going to always be Alcrest.  That too will also be explained in Part Four.

For the sister character I didn’t have a great vision.  I knew she had to be the wild one and a little younger.  Then one day I was assisting with my son’s floor hockey game and saw that one of his classmates last name was Wanderingspirit.  Oh!  Sweet!  I instantly wanted to have a character with that name and ten minutes later thought what if I gave it to her.  Well Wanderingspirit would not be a Caucasian name and I didn’t want to change Spencer.  Foster siblings?  Fostering children is big where I live, so is the Native-Canadian population, and the story is loosely going to be based here so why not.  Maeve Wanderingspirit?  It could work.  Chrysanthemum Wanderingspirit could really work.  I know a girl named Raincloud Bagger so it could work, trust me.
Elizabeth Frances
aka Chrys Wanderingspirit
Next I needed a face.  The moment I got to a computer I started Googling Native-American actresses and then Native-Canadian.  I found a dozen or so and saved their pictures.  Then I started going through them one at a time and seeing what would fit best with what was in my mind.  My eyes kept going back to Elizabeth Frances.  I found her on Twitter, then her web site where I got her email.  I sent her an email telling her what I was doing and asked if I could use her image as my character.  She said yes and now I have a Chrys Wanderingspirit.

Going back to the fostering child thing for a moment, I also thought it would be a good way to bring in different characters that they know intimately.  Fostering doesn’t always work out right, but the foster siblings often have a bond.  Yes, I’m thinking of future stories with these characters already.  I know I should just work on this one.

In Part Four I’m going to talk about the main area where the story is situated around.  Every story needs a “base of operations.”  So keep looking for that one.  Let me know in the comments what you think of my characters and the idea so far.

No comments:

Post a Comment