Learning Who They Are

After returning home from my routine (I hope) echocardiogram this morning, having nothing more pressing to do, I decided to explore the names I’ve used for characters I’ve written during the last two or three years. I was surprised at how many names I’ve used. The following list, though not exhaustive, is an indication of how much attention I’ve given to what amounts to what is, for the most part, an incidental element of writing:

Hector Frazier ♦ Gavin Cloud ♦ Derby ♦ Dharma Brahmbhatt ♦ Crimson Martin ♦ Daniel Mize ♦ Casey Traeger ♦ Lina ♦ Lina (a different one) ♦ Mason ♦ Greg ♦ Corinna ♦ Faith Shenandoah ♦ Lucius Labade ♦ Drake Pool ♦ Shalafondra Gomez ♦ Gunther Toland ♦ Gludge Mokrey ♦ Cleatus Pryor ♦ Shady Fulcrum ♦ Barney Clump ♦ Clarence Devlin ♦ Mimi Huckabee ♦ Glenn Haggarty ♦ Chad ♦ Carlos Thomas ♦ Deputy Collins ♦ Deputy Shaver ♦ Max ♦ Cari ♦ Dangry Slocum ♦ Phaedra-Babette Slocum ♦ Aaron ♦ Annie ♦ Clay Springmore ♦ Steve Schmudge ♦ Ginger ♦ Mona ♦ Roger Payne  ♦ Lance ♦  Beto ♦ Juan ♦ Cynthia Alburton ♦ Shania Johnson ♦ Maximilian Färber ♦ Clement Hotchkiss ♦  Steve ♦ Felicity ♦ Hank ♦ Marie ♦ Jesús Garcia ♦ Bredge Calypso ♦ James Springer Kneeblood ♦ Stegner Mephistopheles ♦ Gunther Langley Positruska ♦ Andrei Kamakordakov ♦ Dan Churchpepper ♦ Melanie Churchpepper  ♦ Bravado Smith ♦ Eagervixen Smith ♦ Centurion Churchpepper ♦ Inebria Churchpepper ♦ Marlin Glenn ♦ Kolbjørn Landvik ♦ Joshua Slocum ♦ Daddy-o Compton ♦ Phaedra Lipscott ♦ Brevity Jones ♦ Gander ♦ Marlisa

As I looked at the list, I realized how few of these characters I’ve actually known. Most have been superficial acquaintances, people I’ve known little about. Two-dimensional characters, I think, arise from shallow writing, writing that does not delve deeply enough into characters’ motivations. Many of these characters were born, initially, from vignettes I wrote for this blog; some remained there, others crawled out of the blog and onto real pieces of paper. But only a few of them found sufficient real estate in my head to develop into real people.

The fact that few of them have evolved into characters I know intimately does not mean they cannot, though. So, I feel fortunate that I have a ready store of characters I know a little bit about. My surface knowledge of these people, at least some of them, will allow me to explore more about them, where they’re from, what they like and don’t like, to whom they are attracted and why, what life experiences have shaped them, and what they are trying to accomplish. As I go about learning more about them, I suspect some of them will meet one another and will develop relationships of their own, perhaps shifting in time from the present to the past, or vice versa.

I can imagine, for example, a very tense and acidic relationship between Faith Shenandoah and James Kneeblood. It’s possible Bredge Calypso is the son Kneeblood did not know he had, making Bredge the half-brother to at least one of the Kneeblood daughters: Rumour, Mexican, Lugubria, Inebria, and Phalaysho (yes, more names, but from several years earlier).

The massive amount of possibility that exists in the stories behind these characters—in whose names I’ve invested so much time—is staggering. It’s time to think about all of these people, to consider where they belong and why.  Fun!

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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