Writing new characters

Meryl Stryfe and Milly Thompson from Trigun

One of my current projects has had quite the interesting evolution. It had started off in 2019 as a simple light-hearted litfic story that happened to take place on a space station, but after several failed attempts, cast changes, and three mixtapes, it’s turned into something altogether different. The two main characters, BFFs slightly inspired by Meryl and Milly from Trigun among other things, are the only two people that have survived to the current version. Two characters who are just doing their job and get involved in something WAAAAAAAY out of their league, yet it wouldn’t be the same without them. One character is boisterous, kind of silly, but she always has your back; the other is straitlaced and serious, but will often come up with the most unexpected and deeply unstable ideas. That’s Althea and Claudia, the two main characters in my story.

These two goofballs remind me just how often I love creating and writing new characters that just resonate and take on lives of their own. It’s rare, but sometimes I know exactly how these characters would act in any given moment, any given situation. They might be slightly based on or inspired by real people or someone else’s characters, but I’ve made them my own by giving them the exact personalities I expect them to have. I even know that they must have a pet Maine coon cat (I spoke about Grizelda a few weeks ago) and they’re both the biggest nerds ever. They’re not only BFFs from childhood, they love each other dearly and are everything except married at this current point of writing. Writing them together has always been a joy and rarely frustrating.

Mind you, the story itself is in its very rough draft form at the moment — let’s just say there’s an extremely frustrating chapter I stopped a while back and put a big [WRITE THIS LATER] on it — but I’m happy to say that thanks to these two women, I know where it’s all supposed to unfold and what their roles are within it all. They’re sort of Reluctant Heroes, I suppose, but I’m trying not to lean too heavily on any one trope for them. They’re the ones who’ll come up with That Insane Idea That Just Might Work, but they’re also the ones wondering why the hell they got involved in the first place.

So yeah…I could say that I feel like I’m still scrabbling, still trying to find my way and making some of it up as I go along, but with these two goobers as my leads, I think I’m in good hands!

Cattiness

Image courtesy of bluehedgehogs on Imgur

There is really no reason why one of my recent novel projects has a Maine coon cat in it. I mean, other than the fact that I’m surprised I never had cats in any of my previous books or stories, given how much I love them.

Okay, maybe there is a reason, but it’s not a Chekov’s cat. It’s just that the comically large, floofy and cranky kitty happens to be the pet of the two main characters. [Her name is Grizelda, by the way, Grizz for short.] I had no real plans to have the cat get involved in any of the shenanigans that unfold in this novel other than having one of them be the doting mom (fussing and giving scritches and belly rubs and letting her sit on the kitchen table when she shouldn’t be up there) and the other be the mom with withering patience (pulling her off said kitchen table, ensuring she gets fed on time, lines up appointments with the vet).

My point being, this is the first time I’ve used a living being as a way to show part of a character’s personality. They both love Grizzy despite her incessant crankiness and chattiness. They both care about her and miss her dearly when they head out on what is initially a few weeks’ vacation, and worry about her when said vacation ends up being longer than planned. Grizz doesn’t have a role like Einstein the dog does in Cowboy Bebop; she’s just there doing cat things and living her best cat life — including making sure her humans behave, don’t get into trouble, and feed her every now and again.

And, no big surprise, the Grizelda scenes I’ve written are always a joy to write!