“A character’s neighborhood provides the opportunity to tell us about him/her without narrative. People live where they’re comfortable, so how you describe the protagonist or antagonist’s home town will reflect his values, beliefs, passions.
My heart leapt, and I spun around to see Harry Graham walking towards me.
“To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?” The tall man who always reminded me of Lorne Greene—except I admired the actor—smiled down at me with his corn-on-the-cob-shaped teeth. He appeared ready to dine at a fine restaurant, not tend to cows. Although I didn’t genuinely like the man’s business tactics, he was still a person respected in the community, one who had never said a mean word to me. He was just a jerk, like the guy who doesn’t show up for a date and later says he ran into a buddy and they went fishing, and expects another date just because he really didn’t do anything wrong.
Bronwyn Darrow is one of the main characters in Shadows in the Stone. Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to him. This interview takes place in the same time frame as the opening scene of the fantasy novel. It provides a peek into Bronwyn’s world before the action gets underway.
Diane: Welcome to my farm, Bronwyn. I hope you don’t mind sitting here in the barn to talk; I don’t want to miss this beautiful day.
Bronwyn: No, I don’t mind. I love being outside. (pulls up a hay bale, sits and leans against a stall gate)
Diane (grabs her own hay bale, plops it against the opposite side of the six-foot aisle running through the barn and sits): Great because I also love the smell of this place.
Bronwyn (grins): Me, too. I love being around horses. It makes me feel free. (tosses his chin toward the pasture where our pony grazes beside the miniature donkey). What breed is that? I don’t think we have that type in Ath-o’Lea.
Diane: It’s a Haflinger.
Bronwyn: He’s a stalky creature. Gelding?
Diane: Yup, about five years old. The breeds supposed to be sure-footed, great for mountain trails.
Bronwyn (flashes his dark brown eyes at me): Can I ride ‘em when we’re done?
Diane: Sure, as long as you don’t take him on the road. He’s not wearing shoes.
Bronwyn (his face lights up): Promise, I won’t. He looks like he loves to run.
Diane: Do you ride a lot in your position at Aruam Castle?
Bronwyn: I do. Learning to ride well is part of a soldier’s training. We spend at least two hours a day working with horses.
Diane: How long have you been serving the castle?
Bronwyn: I’ve been a soldier in the reserve for about two years.
Diane: So you’re not a castle guard? (He shakes his head). What’s the difference?
Bronwyn: The soldiers are a reserve for the castle guard. When a guard retires, dies or is injured to the point he can’t fulfil his duties, his position is filled by a soldier. This means the castle guard is always working at full capacity with well-trained men.
Diane: What duties do you perform as a soldier?
Characters are the essence in a story as corned beef is the heart in Jiggs Dinner. But just like the beef, characters can have no flavour and instead of enticing you to eat read more, you pass on seconds put the book down.
Like corned beef, good characters take time to create. I’ve cured my characters in Shadows of the Stone for several years. Now, they’re almost read to be served (think May 6th). I love my characters, the good, the bad and the ugly. None of them are perfect because perfect characters are boring. Even The Good Guys Must Be Flawed. You can read my thoughts about this in a guest post at Thea Atkinson’s blog.
Gipsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark. Attributed to the Claddaugh Gypsies of Galway.
When I went searching for the perfect horse breed for my fantasy novel, Shadows in the Stone, there were several characteristics I desired.
From my Stats Page, I’m told that on average one person a day has viewed my blog titled Using Images to Capture a Character since it was posted February 21, 2011. When it comes to blog post popularity, this one is fourth out of 68.
Why has this particular blog generated so much interest? Is it because it’s the best I’ve written? Nope. Is it because it discusses a unique topic? Nope.
You’ve heard the old expression, To really know someone, you must walk in their shoes.
This expression reminds us to not judge people before we get to know them and to not assume we know what they’re thinking and feeling. This expression holds true for the people in our life as well as the characters in our stories.
Writing about someone without knowing them first makes them flat, uninteresting and possible unreliable. When I begin a new story with new characters, I often stumble my way along, wondering if my character will go this way or that. If they are faced with a challenge, what will they do? Turn and run? Or stand and fight?