In recent posting we've been discussing the beginning evolution of a story, or how a story springs into mind and develops. We've talked about the chaotic inception that happens in my mind, we've talked about the needed formula, and we've talked about world building. That leaves two other aspects of our formula: characters and conflict. Furthermore, I feel its important to divide characters up into three more categories: main characters, villains, and secondary characters. In this post, we'll focus on main characters.
Most of the time, a main character is the first thing I think of after the initial Question. Sometimes its just an image of the main character doing something. Sometimes its a comment that the main character will make. And sometimes its an action. With Spirit Riddled and Jess it was definitely an action. But the funny thing was Jess wasn't inspired by an action that actually happens in Spirit Riddled. The first thing I imagined the character that would be Jess doing actually takes place much later, in a sequel.
I created the story of Spirit Riddled during one of the most interesting summers of my life. I was in Toulouse, France living with a French family. Every day was an adventure. Around every corner was something exciting and inspiring. But Jess wasn't inspired by my magical surroundings. She was inspired by my older sister, back home, who decided she was going to contact her biological father.
Now a bit of backstory. I have three siblings; I am Three of Four*. My older siblings have a different biological father from me, but two years before I was born, my dad adopted them. I didn't know any of this until I was in eighth grade. Up to that point, I thought we all had the same parents. When I learned about it, it didn't change anything for me. But when I was a senior in high school my brother decided he wanted to contact this man who voluntarily gave him up. Two years later, my older sister did the same.
I was mad. Really really really mad, when my older sister did this. She had spent the past two years saying my brother was stupid, that he was breaking up our family, and then she went in did the same. I didn't understand. I still don't understand. All I could think was why would you want to find a man who gave you up? I was born to my father, and that's awesome. He loves me, and I love him. But my siblings? My father CHOSE them. He didn't have to have them. He didn't have to love him. There was no biological imperative and he loves them anyway. They've treated him like crap in the past couple of years, and he loves them anyway unconditionally. And he chose it. How beautiful is that? How awesome is that? And wouldn't it be nice for once if someone was actually freaking grateful for that?
And thus was born Jess. I pictured this action, this choice she would have at some point. At some point the man who took her in (Mage, who we've discussed before) is going to ask "I chose you. Can't that be enough?" And instead of crying that no it isn't enough, or instead of running back to the man who abandoned her Jess is simply going to say "Yes."
Aha! Did you catch that? Jess wasn't just invented there. So was Mage. The two were invented together. Weird. It sometimes just happens like that. But Jess and Mage are an inseparable duo in my mind and in the story (well...until Jess grows up and marries---never mind. No spoilers. :)
Anyway, when Jess was created, Mage was created simultaneously, and the two were created to compliment and strengthen each other. And in turn their creation helped create their world, since Jess and Mage are the two "demon-possessed" we are following. The villains (or really antagonists) were created in reaction to Jess and Mage to create conflict, and the villains definitely shape the world as we will see in the next post
*Yes, that is my Borg designation. Yes, my mind really does think like that. And yes, my mom is a Trekkie so its kind of appropriate.