Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Character Creation

In this ultr-political season my cynicism is at an explosive level, so I have opted not to subject you to my thoughts on liars and the morally reprehensible running for office...

I have been plugging away at book two in the Drums of Rallinwar series.  The process is slow going, not because of the story, but because of the characters that must be created.  You see, I have an issue with just slapping a name and description into the text and moving on; every character in my books has a story.

Leandros Coth plays a larger role in Book Two and when it came to writing his first scene I had two new characters to introduce.  The first character is his right hand man, Enicks.  The second is his lover/girlfriend/housekeeper.  Before I could introduce these characters I had to write up a sketch for each of them.  All of my character sketches are of the same format and provide specific information for them.  As you have most likely guessed, the information includes: name, height, age, build (or weight), but there is other important information that helps me flesh out these characters.

I include their family, not always names, but what family members they have; mother, father, wife, children, etc.  This helps in how they interact with other characters.  Think about it.  If you have children, you look at friends that don't just a little differently.  If you are unmarried, your married friends treat you a little differently.  What family you have, and who they are (or were), has an impact on your personality.  Like it or not.

I include a brief history of the character, which often leads to a short story to write when time permits.  This also provides a little insight to the character's personality.  In the case of Tandy Aramel (a new character in book two), her family was murdered by soldiers.  It is only natural that she mistrusts military.

The last item on a character dossier, and possibly the most important, is there desires.  What does this character want?  What a character wants often drives their decisions.  In the case of Enicks, he wants nothing more than to please his boss, Leandros.  Why?  Because Leandros is a rich business man with no known heirs.  In Enicks mind, if he serves Leandros to perfection he just might get a cut of his wealth with the man kicks over.

As I mentioned before, a lot of times these sketches lead to a story outside of the book.  I have written several shorts that involved many of my characters.  It's a nice distraction, and it also helps me to understand who these characters are.

Of course, it is my hope that this creation process makes the characters real for you, the reader.

Shameless plug:
If you haven't picked it up yet, Blood of Two by C. Hollis Gunter is available in electronic format at most e-book retailers.  A paperback copy can also be found at Amazon.
The ebook is cheap, only $2.99.  Pick it up, read it, and let me know what you think.

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Nice Calm Weekend

I am not an outdoorsman by any stretch of the imagination.  My standard version of camping includes a travel trailer, steak, and a good book.  But I do enjoy a good hike with my family.  In the case of this latest weekend, it was just myself and my beautiful wife.
We have hiked some strenuous trails in the Rocky Mountains, a couple of not-so-strenuous trails in the Smoky Mountains, and this last weekend, a somewhat tame trail in Southeast Oklahoma.  With every hike, my mind drifts back to a time when European explorers first made their way across North America.
My adventure this weekend was literally a stroll through the woods.  I had the backpack loaded with bottled water, rain poncho's, beef jerky, a compass, a crude map, and several other implements of manufactured comfort.  Most importantly, the trail ahead was clear, even with an occasional orange dot spray painted onto a tree to show me that I hadn't lost my way.
I look at this photograph and have to think about how uncomfortable a night's sleep was in this wilderness.  You can't take two steps without finding a stone the size of your head.  I don't care how many blankets you carried, those stones would drive into your back, making that next day uncomfortable.
How far could you travel each day without a well-worn trail to guide you?  With an eye on the compass and an eye on the direction of travel, it had to be slow going.  Fortunately for the early traveler, the undergrowth in these woods are sparse.  Unfortunately, there are bluffs and other inconvenient formations that could cause a detour and delay the forward progress.  The few miles I traveled through the forest on a chilly Saturday afternoon could very well have taken more than a day for the early explorer.
So, that somewhat tame hike I enjoyed this weekend wouldn't have been tame a couple of hundred years ago.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Characters do the Darndest Things

I get asked a couple of standard questions by those who have read Blood of Two.

What will happen to (insert character name here) in the second book?
How many books will encompass Drums of Rallinwar?

Both of these questions can only be answered by the characters.  Sorry, I have little to no input here.  I know it sounds a bit looney, but it is true.

When I sit down to write, I have an idea of what scenes I will be writing that day.  This usually goes hand in hand with a (loose) outline of the book.  That is as far as I can plan, because more often than not, the characters have their own ideas of what needs to happen.

Each character has their own personality.  While I may want Aeldon to sit back and take insolence from one of the Keeper's; he has other ideas.  You can guess where he will take a scene, and it will usually end with a sore hand.  I can't force a character to do something that is a departure from their personality.  That is not to say that they never surprise me.

The first scene in the second book with Qa'Veck took me off guard.  It was a simple scene meant to show us his new duties.  His reaction to the changes in Dalthanalle was not what I expected, yet it fit with his character.  Unfortunately, his reaction doesn't fit with a future scene I had schemed for him.

So, you see, I know what I want to happen in book two, but the mystery remains as to what the characters will allow to happen.  The destination is clear, but they are the navigators for this journey, and some of the paths they choose make driving difficult.  Maybe difficult is a poor choice of words.  Exciting, interesting.  Definately different than I had planned.

C. Hollis Gunter
p.s.  I sign this post only to populate search engines...
p.s.s  But who is going to google my name...
p.s.s.s  Maybe I should also include:  author of Blood of Two...
p.s.s.s.s  Now who would google that?