Characters come to life in different ways during story development. Some characters tell me their stories as I write them, much as Gilwyr did in Sellenria. An orphan, raised by the Kir Leth with their unique color-based language, and trained as an assassin. I could hear her cocky, quirky voice from the first scene. As I wrote her in different situations, I realized that she would be hiding some insecurities. She was neither Kir Leth nor Human but caught between the two. It was fortunate that she had good friends who helped her see that as a strength instead of a weakness. She is summed up well in the line with which she starts the sequel I am writing: “The sky ship drew a sword across the night, as blue as chance.”
Resche, in Knots, evolved during revisions. In the first draft, he was more of a rogue who would manipulate people to gain his ends. He wasn’t a very sympathetic main character, one to whom I couldn’t relate. On the second pass, he developed some twitchy obsessions with patterns that suited him more to the story. I also understood that he was compassionate, but expressed it in an oblique way that kept others from seeing it directly. In the end, he had a stronger voice and a better character arc.
I keep a story vignette that I call MC Tavern, in which my main characters from other stories happen upon a mysterious bar on a side street, where they can meet and have a drink together. Each character describes the locale and the clientele from their own point of view. Each notices different things, describes people in very different ways, uses their own vocabulary. It’s useful to make sure each one has a distinct voice and viewpoint. This vignette shows signs of taking on a life of its own and spawning an entirely new story.
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Until next time…
-Chuck and Dan