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Bringing Characters to Life: Death Threats Work!

November 25, 2010

My characters for my NaNo are really driving me crazy. They’re so apathetic. ‘We’re in Fairyland? OK,’ is all they say, in this disinterested voice. ‘We have to kill people? OK.’

You’d think people who are plucked out of your perfectly ordinary twenty-first century life and dropped into a world containing dragons, witches and talking animals, and told they have to give up their lives as, I don’t know, librarians, shop assistants, maths teachers or whatever, and instead go and fight in a war, would freak out a bit. Or more than a bit.

Not my characters, though. They just say, ‘Oh, OK. Why is there no toothpaste here?’ Seriously – that’s their biggest problem, the absence of toothpaste and toilet paper in still very medieval-ish Fairyland.

After plodding through my sorry excuse for a plot for three weeks, I decided to skip ahead to the end. I know what’s got to happen at the end, as opposed to the month or so between the first scene and the end, and I hoped that maybe writing would be easier when I could just describe situations that I’ve already got planned out (my definition of ‘planned out’ is a bit loose here. It pretty much only means I’ve got a vague idea of what has to happen in what order), and that in those situations, my characters will begin to show a bit of personality.

It seems to be working. I haven’t even started the actual battle, but just the idea that they might die tomorrow has made my characters take action. One of my point of view characters and some others decide to get drunk to forget the fear, and begin to make silly drunken jokes that were surprisingly easy to write (and why didn’t I think of that line about ‘The dwarf and the seven Snow Whites’ much earlier?).

The other, Miri, decides she’s not going to wait for the Happily Ever After she might never get, and finally makes a move on the guy she fancies.

It’ll be interesting to see what the others will get up to. Either the night before the battle, or when faced with the Big Bad She-Wolf, the red umbrella and the Bagpipes of Death.

My desktop picture while working on 'The Knight with the Red Umbrella', taken at a medieval fair at Oberkapfenberg Castle a couple of years ago. What I like about this picture is that when you don't look too closely at the people's clothes, you can pretend this is really the middle ages, with a real duel going on. 😉


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