I’ve got two characters bouncing around in my brain right now. Lucy and Jamie. Lucy is Jamie’s biological mother. Lucy, being a 16 year old prostitute at the time, gave up Jamie for adoption and has only recently reconnected with her daughter. Jamie holds no bitterness or judgement towards Lucy for giving her up and is in actuality grateful for it. She had a good upbringing with her adoptive parents and it spared her from being named either Lacy or Crystal.
There’s no denying that Lucy and Jamie are related; their physical resemblance is striking. Lucy is reasonably sure who Jamie’s father is (a very nice young reverend who requested no birth control because it violated his religion) and says she sees a little bit of him in Jamie, but Jamie can’t see any resemblances anywhere. Lucy is more emotional, more bubbly, more optimistic. Jamie is more objective, more cynical, more realistic. Together, they’re a riot.
At least in my head.
As much as I like them both and as great as I think they are, I don’t have a story for them. I don’t know what their story is.
That happens quite a bit to me. Good characters walk into my head, but they don’t bring a story with them. I want to use them, so I try to find them one. It’s not always successful.
For example, I have two characters named Verity and Merit Breslin. They’re brother and sister. They’re loud, outspoken, smartasses and they crack me up with their craziness. So far they’ve been featured as secondary characters in not one, but two failed projects. The projects ended up abandoned, but I couldn’t leave those two behind. I may have another idea for them, but I haven’t done anything with it yet, so I can’t say anything for sure. I would imagine if it doesn’t work out, I’ll find something else for them.
I like them too well to let them go.
The same thing happened with another group of siblings I came up with, the Heller kids. Zeb, Zeke, Pru, Arlie, and Lev were originally created for a throwaway NaNo project I did one year. It wasn’t meant to be anything more than an experiment with outlining to see if I could finally get a NaNo win (it worked). The story was garbage, but I really got attached to those siblings. They ended up in a failed project (with Verity and Merit, no less) before landing in something solid (they’re now “hunters” in the Outskirts Universe).
I’ve got a thing for good characters. I always have. Even as a kid, my mother used to say that I only wrote so I could name people. That’s kind of true. I liked talking about the people in my head (I liked naming them, too; I’ve got a thing for names, but that’s another post). I still like talking about the people in my head, only now I want the story I tell about them to be worthwhile.
If characters drive a story, then I’d like to give them a nice one to vroom around in.
Until then, I’m going to keep listening to them jabber on in my head, getting to know them a little better.
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