July 6, 2017
One of the neatest parts about writing (for me, anyway) is creating people. Maybe I take it too far, but I like to have elaborate backstories for everyone. (For example: a character with a small part in “Web of Deception” has fifteen pages of notes on his family life, origin, habits, and history of how he rose to sit on the Myra’neen council!) To give you some idea of how I create characters, I’ll give a simpler example:
Darren Blake is a member of the Grenadan Guards. His parents own an inn in a small town two days’ travel from the capital. His family consists of his father, mother, himself, and a set of twin brothers. As toddlers, his brothers loved making muddy messes and rejected clean water. Since his mother didn’t like mud in her inn, she would solicit Darren’s help in corralling and washing the twins every evening in the stable. Darren hated this so much that when he left to join Guard service, he vowed he’d never wash a kid again.
Fast forward a few years. Now Darren is a junior grade junior officer in the Guard ranks. He is stationed at the underwater mining colony of Brantley Station. He is low enough in rank to be unable to contest being placed “in charge” of Ethan when the pirate child is held in Guard custody until the council meeting. Even though at first Darren appears just as callous as the majority of the Guards, his real character emerges as he realizes that Ethan is just as innocent as his own brothers. Then Darren becomes Ethan’s guide, friend, and advocate.
I needed a character to bring the human side of the Grenadans into light. This character needed to connect with Ethan despite being part of the Grenadan Guards. In the long-term storyline, a positive connection early on was needed so that Ethan could reflect on at least one Grenadan as being good instead of evil. As most of them, due to their militaristic viewpoint and cold, logical mindset, see orphans as weak links (unimportant, less than human) and are not in the least kind to Ethan. In creating Darren, I had to take into account the lifestyles and culture of the Grenadans I’d created. Darren would be, like all people, a product of his environment.
Darren appears only in the last half of Pirate Child and in the first chapter of Little Thief. His character was also created to be temporary. He is in Ethan’s life for less than two months. Although his time spent is small, his impact on the way Ethan views the station is large. This part of fiction is just as in real life. Sometimes our connections with others may be very small (a nurse in an ER, a man on a bus, someone we stand in line with at a park, or a passing stranger who smiles at us when we are sad) but we remember them forever.
Be sure to check out Ethan’s story in the Brantley Station Saga and keep your eyes open for one short-term character named Darren Blake. Ethan remembers him forever.
Thanks for reading!
Type at you next time…