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That’s right, folks, it’s character building time!

Today it’s really REALLY cold outside, so I’m taking advantage of the day off and getting some more work done. I’m attempting to come up with physical descriptions of the characters I’m designing, since their personalities are pretty much already intact. It’s part of my OCD, getting all of this stuff planned out in advance of the heavy bits of writing. Knowing what a character looks like enables me to have a great mental image of them, and makes their interaction with other characters far more believable, at least to me.

Characters in this are going to be entertaining. One of them in particular is going to be fun to write. This one is Arsus. He’s got a pretty unique view on life, and his interactions with Rime, his primary traveling companion, are going to be some of the best bits of dialogue in the whole thing. You’ll understand the reason for this soon enough.

Right now, life is pretty good. I’m sitting by a fire in my girlfriend’s parents’ basement, laughing at the -20 weather outside. This blog entry has been a long time coming. I’ve been trying to get some writing done for the last few days, but it hasn’t been going so well. I guess I’ve got a lot on my mind, what with the job hunting and all. There’s also getting travel plans made for this weekend. It’s not a trip I want to have to make, but it will be good to see the family.

It’s hard to believe how much has changed in the last year. I’ve been looking back on where I was a year ago, and remembering some of my writing. A little over a year ago, I was taking a class on Poetry and Social Justice. I have no idea who started that particular one, but one of my favorite professors was involved, and it was three credits I desperately needed for graduation, so I jumped in. Eventually, I was teamed up with a couple of the other students in the class, and we started talking about social situations in town. It turned out that one of our teammates regularly visited the local “tent city” with her husband, providing food, propane, and a friendly attitude to many of the homeless people in town. It was quickly decided that part of our project for the class would involve going out to meet some of these people for ourselves, getting to see the conditions in which they lived. So one afternoon, we got ourselves geared up and went to meet some of the so-called bums that lived alongside the river.

It was eye-opening. The people I met were all willing to talk about how they had ended up in their situation. Most of them openly admitted to having made some wrong decision at some point in their lives, but they wanted a chance to prove to the city (and the world) that they could still make a contribution to society, if someone would just give them the opportunity to try again. Two of them in particular had a profound impact on me. One of them was a man who, when I told him what I was doing, offered me a sandwich from his supply tent and gave me a candle that shared sentiments about being happy despite having no “home.” I found out a couple of weeks later that this man had suffered a heart attack and passed away before he was able to get to a hospital. The other man called himself “Dog,” and provided inspiration critical to one of my favorite poems. Dog was one of the middle-aged men I met that day, and he reminded me very much of my father in his voice, actions, and general attitude towards life. I have no idea what has happened to Dog in the last year. I hope that he’s doing well. It just goes to show you that you never know where you’re going to find inspiration.

3 Comments

  1. I do the same with my characters. I usually start with a particular image in mind, and somewhere in my narrative I feel compelled to describe everyone. If I can actually picture particular characteristics, the characters feel much more real and tangible. I can’t wait to hear about yours.

  2. Alright, so I have this tendency to read your posts, go “Oh, I sort of have something to say” and then resolve to comment later. By that time you have invariably posted another entry. This is a good sign; one should not be able to keep up with a brain while it writes.

    That being said, leave yourself some wiggle room. The more the image of a character is cemented in your brain, the harder it is to change (emotionally as well as mentally) their appearance when the story calls for it. Doesn’t always happen, but if you read the rough-draft of Descent your first question would be “Why the hell does everyone look so plain and well adjusted?”

    Of course, the opposite is just as serious of a mistake. My ancillary characters are frequently distinguished from one another only by their relationships to each other and the protagonist. I should probably fix that….

    Also, not to fawn, but “Dog” kicked ass.

  3. Yeah, wiggle room is always important. Nothing outside of the main plot is really definite yet. These are just some things that I want to keep in mind as I’m putting this whole thing together.

    Also, yeah. “Dog” was pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.


One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By “Dog” « The Swords of the Ancients on 11 Apr 2012 at 1:18 pm

    […] that I did two years ago in a class on Poetry and Social Justice. I’ve mentioned it once or twice before. This poem, “Dog,” was published in Active For Justice back in 2010, and […]

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