Friday, October 9, 2009

Character studies

From 6/2/06 - whew!  This shows how long the Irish werewolf story has been brewing:

Been getting a bit antsy about writing--feeling like I want to write another story already. I don’t want to start the actual chapters yet, because I want to give this story some time to jell. So, I’m skirting the story, mulling it over in my mind, getting flashes of scenes, thinking of each character and what they’re like.

I have a good idea for the heroine--practical, managing, no-nonsense, a woman of authority in her little village, and she doesn’t take guff from anyone. In my last two books, the heroines were victimized, and had to climb out of the horrors into which they’d been thrust. But this determined Irish heroine is different, and I’m feeling a good deal of relief at the idea that she’s very managing, and she’s the one to whom everyone goes when there’s a problem, and even the village priest will ask her to intercede in local squabbles. She’s so capable and manages...everything and everybody. She’s got a good deal of pride, for she’s from a long line of Bean Sidhe (aka banshee)--wise women who have just a bit of faerie in them, and who have inherited the Sight. Her grandmother was a Bean Sidhe, and my heroine--I think I’ll call her Mary Kate McCree--learned everything from her. I think Mary Kate looks a bit like the actress Maureen O’Hara--auburn haired and voluptuous, and a spitfire attitude.

I even have in mind what her cottage might look like. It’s got a thatched roof, it’s got wood siding and green trim. She’s got pretty lace curtains at the windows, and a nice big porch, with a gravel path through a glorious flower and herb garden. There’s a vegetable garden out back, and a nanny goat in a neat small barn to the right of the cottage, for both milk and butter. She’s got a brother and sister, both younger than herself. I think she’s about 25, which is a bit of an “old maid” for that time (1798 or so), but that’s because while the villagers respect her, they’re also intimidated by her. Her younger brother, Brian, is 22, and is smart enough for Dublin University, where he’s a scholar, but terribly idealistic. He’s being recruited by some Irish rebels, unbeknownst to Mary Kate. Her younger sister, Bridget, is about 17, very pretty and blonde, and much less intimidating than Mary Kate, so has more than a few suitors. But though Bridget has shown no sign of the Sight, she’s a good herbalist and very quick-witted.

The hero, though...I’m having a little more difficulty visualizing him. I’ve decided his name will be James Marstone, and related to the Marstones I’ve written about before. He’s English, and has inherited the local castle, which is not in good repair. Of course, being English, he won’t be liked. And, since he’s living in the castle, which is supposedly cursed, he’s going to feel pretty isolated because nobody wants to work for him. And since he’s also become a werewolf, he’ll be bewildered because he doesn’t remember what he’s done or where he’s been at night during the full moon. But that’s all I’ve got on him. I’ll have to figure out how he became cursed, who cursed him, and why. Although, perhaps that’s a mystery in the novel to be solved. Certainly, nobody in the village wants him there, for he’s a damned Sassanach, and a Protestant to boot.

I know what’s going to bring them together: James Marstone will have young Brian arrested for treason, since he’s been linked to the Irish rebels who blew up something or other. Mary Kate’s going to have to figure out a way to persuade Marstone to let him go. And that bit is going to follow the Grimm’s fairy tale of “The Peasant’s Clever Daughter,” because that’s what I’m basing this story on. Mary Kate’s the sort to do anything for family, even if it’s a blot on her sense of pride.

It won’t be all grim and dark, though. I’m running out of fuel for grim and dark, because I’ve done that with the last three books. This will be lighter, with hopefully lots of banter, because Mary Kate has a quick tongue on her and will get in the last word if she can, and James is no slacker in the repartee department.

Oh, and the village. I haven’t thought of a name for the little Irish village. That place is almost a character in itself. I need to think of a good name, but I don’t know much about Celtic names and what they mean. I think I need something that has to do with “wolf” or faeries. This should be fun: I think I have the Irish speech rhythms in my head pretty well, so the dialogue should have a nice flavor of it. Sure, and I’m thinkin’ it’ll sound fair authentic.

So anyway, that’s what I’ve thought up so far, and with any luck, my publisher will like it.

Well, heck. Here I’ve written all this stuff down, not just mulled it about in my mind. Very well. I’ll keep a copy of this for my files and refer to it again, maybe flesh it out more as I think about it. But I will not start writing the chapters until I have the characters better fleshed out in my mind, and I need to visualize where they are and where they live, and what they look like. I’m really feeling the urge to write the chapters, but I think my big mistake in the past has been jumping into that and then getting stuck because I haven’t thought it through. I really think I need to back off that and do some solid groundwork before I even begin the actual chapters.

Besides, I don’t yet know who cursed James Marstone and why. It could be that I’ll figure it out while I’m writing it, Gotta try to flesh out the story line and characters first. If I don’t know who the characters are and where they’re coming from, I won’t know where they’re going.