Those Characters

As I wrote about my dreams and my personal life today, I drifted through thoughts about my characters. I’d worked hard to develop each to be unique but each has their own hook.

Handley, the space pirate, is embroiled with inner disappointment and dissatisfaction with who she is and what she’s become. She wants more but doesn’t know what she wants. She thinks herself brave. Physically, she is brave. Morally, she’s a coward.

Pram, the colossus and employed terraforming supervisor, is self-assured and relaxed. The changing situation challenges him in ways he never expected to be challenged, which leads to self-inspection and growth, but also causes a hardening against trusting others.

Brett, the footloose fourth-waver, hates dying and being resuscitated, regenerated and resurrected, but he also dislikes life. His alienation had been growing throughout his life. He’d never noticed because he’d taken refuge in memory and sex. Both are artificial, external constructions that are extensions of his personality; they’re not real, but they’re safe. Eventually, as it happens so often, his familiarity with them and they with him breeds a contempt that drives him to actively seek a change. Even he’s unaware of how the depths of his needs.

Philea is a trained scientist. She loves her math, her physics, her learning. People aren’t a need nor desire. She’s enamored with the puzzle of the situation. ‘Doing right’ is secondary to ‘finding answers’.

Forus Ker, a Travail, is the most complex character on the surface. He changes the most as he actively seeks to understand himself and develop his skills and talents while embracing the role his people (or destiny – or is it a God?) has thrust upon him. He never wavers from trying harder and doing more.

Then there are others. Monads, who believe in their manifest destiny and are contemptuous of others in their species and in other species who don’t recognize and accept their superiority. There are the Sabards and the complex role they’ve established for themselves and the altruism they consistently demonstrate. And there are the other Travail, who have come the farthest in grasping how wrong their understanding of existence is and how little they truly understand.

On some days, before I begin a new section, I need to consider which character is in the lead for those scenes, and what they know and when they know it, and then, the overarching characteristics and behavior that drives their decisions and actions. Few of them are pure in their intentions. Sometimes their emotions (save Philea, so far) dictates behavior counter to their best interests. Other times, especially with Handley and Forus Ker, they’re following orders that they don’t understand, but which they decide they must do.

Then, as other characters, are space, time and technology. Things break down, evolve, or dissolve with sudden revelations. They are also considered as each new scene is begun. Sometimes I realize that I’ve overlooked one aspect or another and go back to rewrite on the floor. I feel like I’m looking at sprawling mosaic that’s telling the history of a complex encounter. I slip in to get the closer look necessary to see, hear and explain to the reader what’s going on. But once in a while, I get trapped in the mosaic and find the need to extricate myself and gain distance once again to see the other parts.

Once separation is established and clarity is recovered, I take a deep breath and go back in.

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