Friday, August 5, 2011

The Painted Pony Character Development

As The Painted Pony continues, I posted a poll to gather input from readers as to which plot scenario they thought had the most potential. It always amazes me to see the various comments and thoughts about the list of choices. In this case it seems the field was reduced pretty much to one choice with some suggestions on how to keep the topic from being a rerun of a zillion others. 

Now, after the second chapter is completed I see I need to build a character sketch of the protagonist. Some of the things I need to know (and I may need to do a character interview to find these out, but…for now) Why did Jamie leave Colorado? She talks about her father – we know he is Native American… How did we find that out?  Jamie didn't come right out and tell us did she?  Telling instead of showing is a no, no.  What about her mother? 

I also need to figure out who will be the villain – what is his/her goal – what motivates him/her?
What other characters might I need (I can always add characters as needed, but it's a good idea to get some with a goal already in the story – i.e., a confidant, a romantic interest, etc.)

A major question at this point is what is Jamie's Goal (and who is she…what is her last name?  Was she married? What about her mother why hasn't she mentioned her? Or does she need to? It seems her roots are in Colorado – why?) So many questions so few answers – do you feel overwhelmed? Well, we can break this down into manageable steps.

My solution is to begin developing your characters they will tell you what you need to know – to get your story off the ground and moving forward.  Characters in Search of an Author ( Filbert Publishing 2007) available at  (or wherever you buy your books) ISBN 978-1-932794-15-1 is filled with forms, and formats to help the writer develop living, breathing characters. My favorite way to start a character sketch is to use the Zodiac signs, find a sign that has the characteristics that this plot as I know it so far needs. Then I go through his/her strengths and weaknesses and shared characteristics of people in that birth month, lastly I consult a chart that designates what tree the birth date of the character I am developing means. (this is a really fun thing to do – even for yourself to find out just how accurate this can be.)  An example of a character sketch follows.
This is the protagonist for the book Antique Armor (Wings ePress, Inc. September 2010)
Luisa Terza June Fabrizio (3rd born) Nick name June
May 13 I Have (Earth)
Colors Greens and Browns
Calm practical, takes time making decisions. May resent new ideas. Prefers familiar.
People: Florence Nightingale, Wm Shakespeare, Stevie Wonder, Cher

STRENGTHS: practical, respectful of tradition, resourceful, productive, patient, persistent, steady, earthy, sensual, loyal, devoted, has self-esteem, values self, managerial, trust worthy, strong-willed, “down home” , warm

WEAKNESS: possessive, jealous, overly attached, lazy, inert, materialistic, values only physical material satisfactions, money grubbing, unoriginal, greed, unspiritual, stubborn, slow, plodding, craves security, self-indulgent, ultra conservative, unchanging, dull, boring, bull headed, obstinate

POPLAR TREE (The Uncertainty) Looks very decorative, talented, not very self-confident, extremely courageous, if necessary, needs good will and pleasant surroundings, very choosey, often lonely, great animosity, great artistic nature, good organizer, tends to lean towards philosophy, reliable, in any situation, takes partnership seriously.

MAY PEOPLE: Stubborn, and hard-hearted, strong willed and highly motivated, sharp thoughts, easily angered. Attracts others and loves attention, deep feelings beautiful physically and mentally, firm standpoint. Needs no motivation, easily consoled, systematic (left brain) loves to dream.
Strong clairvoyance. Understanding. Sickness usually ear and neck. Good imagination. Good physical, weak breathing, loves literature, and the arts, loves traveling. Dislikes being at home. Restless.

Hard working, high spirited spendthrift. The intellectual, analytic, bright, well-informed, usually has the answer before most men do, they tend to find her intimidating. Can be rigid about her opinions, (Librarian, accountant, and chemist)
Honest sincere, intellectual and rather retiring, sometimes moody, kind and lovable most of the time. You like traveling for educational value make most of opportunities to better self.

BACKGROUND: raised by strict but loving parents, middle child of five – 2 older sisters, 2 younger brothers. Learned to be a loner, take care of herself. (Aunt Rosa stepped in and rescued her)
Father worked hard, loved hard and died young. He drank hard and had a hair trigger temper. Volatile home-life. 
Belinda, oldest sister, was devious and cruel. Used siblings, lied, cheated, made life hell for Mae.

Mother stay at home mome died in child birth, step mother tyrant hated children.
Older sisters Belinda & Jade
Younger brothers Derek and Tony
HOME TOWN—small towns, moved a lot from apartment to small houses, always crowded but felt adequate
COLLEGE , interior design, communication
Wanted to be a dancer, actress
Lost virginity when/how? Saved herself for marriage
Past trauma/formative events – death of her husband.
Keepsake from past/what it represents. Locket – her father’s had given it to her mother something he brought back from WWII – kept him near.
Spelunking and rock climbing.
Obvious skill organized artistic/creative. Hates doing, waiting, for anything needs to be doing/busy.
Hidden skill – clairvoyant
Obvious weakness =- obstinate
Hidden weakness – jealous no spontaneity
Talent creative, loves organizing, auctions and estate sales.

Now that I have all this information I need to find an opposition, an antagonist that is worthy of her. Again I'll use the Zodiac charts to find this "other" person – As I recall the above character sketch did not remain the same as initially drafted.  For one I changed her name {smile} But  a character is malleable—you need to suit your story and though I wouldn't carelessly change a character after the book is started there is occasion when it is the right thing to do.

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