The next few exercises in The Plot Thickens focus on helping an author know their character from the inside. Hmmm….that almost sounds unlawful.
Again, Noah Lukeman gives you a fleshed out questionnaire to answer about your characters.
Since I have four characters I’m working with, it’s mighty long. But if you’re interested in the process, I’ve posted it below:
Medical background: Annie’s always been very healthy. She has a thin scar on her knee from a childhood fall. It received stitches. She has a huge gash in her upper left arm. It left a nasty scar.
Family Background: Annie’s mom died when she was eight. She is really close to her father even though he sent her to be fostered with the Royal Family for three years. She adopted the Queen as her mother. Her Dad’s a Lord of a relatively wealthy realm. They export wool and fruit. Annie is the youngest of five. She has four older brothers. They teach her to do “boy” stuff. She can fence, fight and ride like a soldier. She’s a natural athlete and was a good tag along. She wasn’t very close to her oldest brother, Broderick, because of the age gap. Her closest brother in age, Lewin, is two years older. They were playmates but fought a lot. Her middle brother, Griffin, is six-years older (22). Whenever she got in trouble, or she and Lewin got in a fight, Annie turned to Griffin for comfort. Broderick and Lewin die in the first chapter.
Annie is not married, but has had several crushes. One on the magician Jarvis, and of course, a long-lasting crush on Caellen. She loves his mother (the queen), dislikes his sister Lillian (thinks she’s an airhead), is impartial to his sister Amberlee, is ambivalent to his brother (at least at first) and does not respect his father (King Simian). Annie likes children, worries about them, but they don’t play a huge role in this book…sort of.
Education and Employment: Annie is well educated for her time. She can read and write. She has had exposure to math, science, law, diplomacy, trade, foreign language. She has a realistic view of the world, because from a very young age she’s been responsible for a lot of heavy tasks (carrying for the poor and needy, planning festivities, balancing the budget, fighting for justice). She’s not afraid of working hard or doing a task that is “below” her noble status.
Record: The only scrapes Annie had ever been in were with Caellen as children. They were merciless to their tutors. Playing jokes was Cael’s idea, but she participated. She and Cael got in several childhood brawls. She held her own against a larger opponent.
Money: Annie never wanted for anything material in her life, but she’s naturally frugal. She’s good at identifying needs vs. wants.
Possessions: Annie has a few pieces of good jewelry that were her mother’s. She doesn’t wear them very often or have a desire for many more. She does, however, have a box of letters from Queen Teresin and Caellen that are her treasures. Her horse was eaten during the siege of her land. She has a few functional daily dresses, but only one or two ball-worthy gowns. She wears functional shoes.
Romantic History: None to speak of. Been too busy/too young to worry about it too much. Loved Cael from early on, but has always denied it to herself. Who intends to marry a prince?
Geography: Her family owns Keep Alvar. It’s an incredible fortress, well planned, on the coast. Four high towers. Windows only look into the courtyard. There’s a fountain in the center, with a small garden. The countryside has rolling hills. It grows wheat, fruit and sheep. She prefers to be outside, but most of her tasks keep her indoors.
Geography/Location: Besides Keep Alvar, Annie loves to be in the palace at Cobbald. She loves the gardens, fountains. Does not however like the humidity. Hasn’t been many places but Alvar and Cobbald.
Pets: She feed her horse to her people. It was a sad thing, but needful. Everything she does has a reason….except when it comes to Cael.
Medical History: Emma was really ill once. She was five. Analese cared for her, didn’t leave her side. She has a scar in her right eyebrow from running away from her nanny, slipping and hitting her head on the bathtub. She’s never had to do anything strenuous in her entire life. She knows how to ride and care for a horse, but that’s it.
Family Background: Emma is an only child. Her mother only had her so that there was someone to pass the throne to—at least that’s what Emma thinks. Her father died when she was very young. Her parent’s marriage was one of convenience. Her mother used him as a traveling diplomat, tried to have him gone as much as possible. The queen had no need for men. The queen did not replace him when he was lost in a ship wreck. His rooms were immediately cleaned out and repurposed.
Since her father was gone a lot, she and Analese (whom she believed was a distant cousin) had a good relationship. Analese cared for her when she was sick, read and told her stories, was more a mother in Emma’s first five years than her own mother was. Emma has some abandonment issues…not that she recognizes them.
Education/Employment: Emma’s had every educational opportunity imaginable. She does not apply herself because she doesn’t really care. She’d naturally smart and good at swaying people. She usually figures she can get someone else to do the work for her. Every month she has to listen to her mother pass judgment on cases (Her mother is the queen/highest court in the land). She HAS learned from that…even if she won’t admit it. She has also been tutored in the “state religion” of Demonai. She’s uncomfortable with her tutor, doesn’t believe in what he teaches.
Record: Since her mother has restricted her activities, Emma tries to use the palace’s escape tunnels to sneak around. Sadly she has to slip away from her guards and nanny…she gets caught at least three times. Book may or may not (depending on how much I rewrite) start with her being reprimanded for sneaking out again.
Money: She has EVERYTHING. Likes it, but has no concept of money.
Possessions: Again, has everything but there is nothing of significant value to her. Her mother took away all the little knickknacks her father brought to her from their trips.
Romantic History: She’s snared a couple of lordlings, and flirted with the guards (who have been told they will die if they touch her). She tries to use her looks and position to sway people.
Geography: She lives in Cobblad Palace. Her rooms are exquisite. High vaulted ceilings, big windows, beautiful linens. Access to a great library.
Geography/Location: As NEVER being outside the city boundaries. Hasn’t been allowed out of the palace for two months, including worship services.
Pets: No pets, but likes horses. Learned how to care for them at a young age.
Medical History: He’s got a huge scar across the bottom of his chin from a childhood fall. He has scarred elbows and knees from doing dumb boy stuff (i.e. climbing trees, sliding down a rock slide, floating in a river). Broke his right wrist when he was bucked off a horse that he wasn’t supposed to ride. Has a myriad of mild scars on his ribs and outer arms from sword fighting wounds. Going to have a nasty scar below his left collar bone from a dagger wound.
Family History: Caellen is the youngest of four children: Lucius (eight years older), Amberlee (four years older), Lillian (two years older). Outwardly doesn’t seem very close to any of his siblings, as they age they realize they need each other. He is his mother’s favorite child (although she does a good job hiding it). Queen Teresin has a lot of power over her children, then love and respect her. Cael always tagged along with his father and Lucius lessons. He was a natural at a lot of things his father tried to teach, but instead of endearing him to his father it alienated him. Trusts that his siblings have the country’s best intentions at heart.
Education/Employment: Same education as Annie (they were tutored together). Except that he is more adept at intrigue, spying, and martial tactics. Has a lot of respect for Annie’s father.
Record: Killed men in battle. Has questionable morals when it comes to women. At least four fathers are after his head for sullying their daughters honor.
Money: Not a problem. He has everything he’s ever needed/wanted. Doesn’t think about it very much.
Possessions: Has a good collection of well-made weapons. Mainly a sword with a specially-designed hilt, guard and scabbard. A war horse.
Romantic History: Know to be a scallywag. No women can resist his charm (young or old).
Geography: Lives in Cobbald City, but his rooms in the palace are always in disarray. He collects “stuff” and has piles all over his rooms. Doesn’t like the servants to clean his space.
Geography/Location: Since he isn’t the heir to the throne, he has been to all eight realms. He doesn’t mine travel, but is happy at home.
Pets: Loves his horse.
Medical History: Healthy, strong, excellent endurance, skilled fighter.
Family History: He is the oldest of three. He has a younger brother (Hatcher, fifteen-months younger) and a little sister (Margaret who is twelve…he calls her Maggot). His parents marriage was arranged when they were very young. His father is Jethro, Lord of Estill, a good man, good merchant, good wizard. His mother is vain, selfish, self-absorbed. She’s involved in gossip and fashion. She’s a beautiful woman, but a total trollop. Chisholm is pretty sure that his little sister is not his father’s daughter. Jethro spends as much time as possible at his hunting lodge (magic-wielders’ school) and only sees his wife when he goes into the estate.
Chisholm thinks his mother is representative of all that is wrong with nobility. And has distanced himself from courtlife as much as possible. Even going as far to enlist as Queen’s Guard to supplement the spies that Analese has already put there. He hides his noble heritage from everyone and just lives life as a “normal” guy.
Loves his siblings. Teases Maggot like a big brother should, respects his younger brother because of his ability to always maintain his cool.
Education/Employment: Has had a noble’s education (even though he hides it). Knows all the customs of court but pretends not to. Excellent horseman, good fighter. Better with fists than weapons, but is above average in both. He is a gifted Wizard, can control anything elemental with his mind.
Record: Chisholm killed a man during a street uprising. It was the first time he’d taken a life, and even though it was necessary was torn up by it. He has a short temper and a big mouth. He’s been involved in a couple of pub brawls (usually against Regulars—soldiers who didn’t pass the difficult tests to become a Queen’s Guard). He is a typical 17-year-old boy, when it comes to hormones. He looks for a pretty girl and a quick “romp” (make out). He never lets it go further than that because he doesn’t want to be like his mother…wants to be respectable like his father. Has “romped” with two noble women, just because he could.
Romantic History: Before leaving Estill, Chisholm was unofficially betrothed to a servant girl (Blythe) is a magic wielder. Time and distance made him realize he was too young to be seriously involved with anyone.
Money: Knows the value of money because he’s lived without it (not that he needed to).
Possessions: His powers are one of his prized possessions. And his family.
Geography: Grew up in a well-appointed estate in Estill. Spent a lot of time at his father’s fancy-pants hunting lodge.
Geography/Location: Knows Estill like the back of his hand. Hasn’t traveled further than Cobbald though.
Pets: Has two dogs that he trained from pups and loves like most people love children. They sleep with them. He takes them everywhere, except to Cobbald because guards aren’t allowed to have pets. He leaves them in Hatcher’s care.
What did I learn from Appearance II?
Again, not much. I already had most of this stuff in the novel. I haven’t spent as much time on Chisholm because he remains a mystery at the beginning of the book…but it was good in practice to flesh out his history. Did anything surprise me? Nope.
Still hoping for a breakthrough.