Friday, August 11, 2017

It Took Everything to Get Me Here

I keep finding myself getting distracted from my task of creating a complete character. "What about the world-building?" I ask myself. "What about the soundtrack?" I mean really, what kind of music does a future space faring society listen to? Probably something electronic and computer generated. Which is unfortunate for me, as I have a longstanding hatred of electronic music. Except this, for some reason.

Anyway, I have all these questions I'm supposed to be answering for this character. Here's a few as an example:

  • What are their biggest secrets?
  • What makes them laugh out loud?
  • What is their best childhood memory?
  • Do they have a natural talent for something?

And I… just don't know. I feel like there's some underlying piece of personality or history that I need to figure out before I can answer any of that, otherwise I'm just assigning random values and hoping they make up a whole person. But that's not how you make people. You start at the bottom and add on one experience, one day, at a time. Who someone is now is made up of every single thing that came before. And that's what these questions are asking, for those pieces, but I feel like I'm looking at it from the wrong angle.

I need to find the right piece to start from and I just…

I guess it's her motivation. That's the central part of any character. What do they want and why do they want it? Elsbeth wants revenge because, at least from her point of view, whatever happened to her son was the protagonist's fault. That's the only solid thing I know about her. I know where she ends, where she finds herself at the beginning of the story. I don't know where she begins.

I think she has some place of power within their society. She has the means to do whatever she's going to do to the protagonist. Send him off on a suicide mission or whatever. I have no idea what her revenge plan is. I may never know, because with each thing I add to her, the more boring she becomes.

This is the opposite of what we want.

Am I just adding boring details? Am I… just a boring person?

It might be because her motivation is emotional in nature. It boils her down to just that emotion, as though just because she's sad now means she is, was, and always will be sad. So when I get questions like "What makes them laugh out loud?" I get stumped because obviously she'd never laugh at anything ever.

And that's wrong.

As I said before, people aren't just here and now. They're made up of every other moment in their life. So yeah, she's not too happy at the moment. But she was. Maybe she laughed at stupid jokes. (I never wanted to believe my friend was stealing from his job as a road worker, but when I went to his house, all the signs were there.)

So I need to figure out who she was, and how that informed who she is. Why would she react like this? Has she always been so vengeful? And another thing, whatever happened to her son's father? He's not in the picture, I can tell you that. There are a few possibilities. He A) was done in by space pirates, B) left for a shinier, younger ship, or C) was never really there because their society doesn't place so much importance on family units. I don't really care which. If you have a preference, leave it in the comments. I'm leaning toward C because she can only have so much tragedy in her life. I'm not a monster.

Now I guess I need to figure out a few critical incidents in her life that led up to this. And then a few seemingly not so critical moments, that added some little thing, some quirk to her personality. She's probably forgotten about those moments by now, but they've left some impact, like how she uses a certain phrase, or where she puts certain things. We are all a product of our experiences, even if we don’t remember them.

Who knows who we'll be by Tuesday.

Title Source: Supernatural 7x21: Reading is Fundamental

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