Working with Established Characters
Quick Update: I have to schedule these in advance (or they don't happen). So while you won't see this until May, I'm writing it early on (like, April 5th). Sorry to ruin that for you. But it means that I don't have a last name for Carrigan yet.
I did want to look a little more at characterization, and I realized that I did talk about Morrigan, the patron goddess of our protagonist. And it got me to thinking:
What do we do when a character (or anything, for that matter) in our story comes from something in real life?
So this could include settings, pop culture references, or in my case, mythological figures.
It's not easy, because these ideas can be very fixed and rigid in our culture or in our minds. There's only so much subverting of the idea we can do before it's no longer believable or accessible for our readers.
Luckily for me, Morrigan is not that well known--most Irish and Celtic mythology is eclipsed by the Norse, Greco-Roman, and Indian mythological figures. So I have a little bit of freedom to interpret her as I want.
Things I looked at to establish her character:
I started with Myers-Briggs personality. What's great about this is how it lets me consider different aspects, and by thinking which one both makes sense for the myth as well as my interpretation, I can create an instant personality profile. You could use DISC theory, or (for my D&D fans) Good versus Evil and Lawful versus Chaotic.
Or if you're a bit of an overachiever like me, you can use all of them.
What's great is that they feed into each other--so no matter where you start, you can use great free resources to shape your character, working from the outside in or the inside out.
What's great about these resources is that they help explain things that already exist. So if you're working with a character in particular that already exists, you can make educated choices to pin said character down.
Making Them Real
Just because your character already exists doesn't mean you can skimp on the prep work. Morrigan will have a tab in the character spreadsheet I shared last week, just as Carrigan will.
You can, however, look through the lore that already exists, and keep what works for you (and dump the rest).
So I did promise you bits of worldbuilding: here it comes. I'll try to start giving these tidbits about once a month.
I usually start with worldbuilding. I gave you some character information first, because I think it helps you feel more invested in what I'm doing, whereas building a world is somewhat abstract. So if you remember the early post, where I wondered about druids in the world, and how to reimagine them in a modern setting, here's how I fleshed that out:
Idea 1: You are born a druid, not made one
So part of the premise here is that certain people are born-druids. It makes sense from a worldbuilding perspective if you consider a druid's abilities to be magical. Just as in many fantasies, magical abilities in my world are inherited.
A druid would be someone with:
- An eidetic memory (to memorize the oral lore and laws)
- Innate connection to the world (to access the spiritual world at times other than Samhain, inspire and lead people)
- Healing touch (for when they give medical aid)
I'll have a fleshed out character sketch of Morrigan, with as many details as I can create. I'll also continue the worldbuilding ideas, and start to tie them together.
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As a reminder, frequently commenting on this series can earn you a free copy of this book once it's published. This week, tell me what parts of Irish mythology you want to know more about.
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