It’s that beautiful time of the month again, and I’m going to bend the rules a little (as I usually do). I’m featuring three characters–Wilson, Mary, and Durant–from my dawn-of-the-west, fantasy-of-manners story (Gentle Fire). Mary and Wilson are husband and wife, and Mary and Durant are sister and brother. And if you’re wondering why I refer to the gentlemen by their surnames, it’s because I first wrote a military portion of the story, and it made sense to use surnames rather than Christian names. And the naming convention stuck.
Note: I’m still developing these characters, and so some of these details may change. But as of now, this is what they’re like!
(This is actually Wilson and Mary, and it’s the only picture of Wilson I have in my portfolio!)
- What is he addicted to/can’t live without? Coffee. Mary once joked that maintaining good supply of coffee was a higher priority than getting glass windows for the house. (Which is also kinda true, since Wilson made shutters for the windows that work quite well).
- Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character. Wilson is easygoing, yet hardworking, and cheerful. However, he has a type-A streak that makes him stubborn; and though he leads his family, he’s not the sort to step up in community leadership (he says he doesn’t know what would give him authority to do so). And he doesn’t like to be restrained or controlled, and he becomes an absolute grouch if such a situation continues.
- Is he holding onto something he should get rid of? Not that I know of. Unless it’s the memory of working his parents’ farm, which his family eventually lost due to financial trouble. This disturbed Wilson deeply, as he wanted to be able to work the land and pass it down to his sons. And it’s one reason he moved his family to the colonies: to be able to gain and work their own land.
- If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where does he fall on the scale? *sarcastic laugh from Mary* 3 or 4. He tends to be tidy or at least careful with his tools and farm equipment, but everything else…no.
- What most frustrates him about the world he lives in? Winter. (His answer.) He gets stir-crazy after being cooped indoors for a while. And he hasn’t seen fit to share a serious answer with me yet.
- How would he dress for a night out? How would he dress for a night in? Night out: clean shirt and his nice coat. And that’s about it. His preferred outfit is sturdy comfortable clothing in earthy tones that won’t show dirt. And he always wears boots, and usually has his sleeves rolled up and his hands stained with dirt, sap, grease or stains from iron…in fact, he looks as though he’s in the middle of manual work. This is because he usually is. And even when he’s not, he still looks casual and somewhat rumpled; he’s never been a sharp dresser and has no sense of fashion.
- How many shoes does he own, and what kind? Work boots and one pair of shoes…assuming he still has them, that is; he may have given them to someone who needed them more.
- Does he have any pets? What pet does he WISH he had? If you count the temporary and accidental ownership of the snakes and squirrels that get into the cabin. (His answer.) He doesn’t wish for pets, but he does want animals for the farm: two goats, a pig, and some chickens. The family already has mules.
- Is there something or someone that he resents? Why and what happened? The creatures the get into the cabin. (His answer, again.) And he definitely resents losing his family’s farm back east due to financial trouble. But he’s not the sort to spend too much time thinking about it; he found a different way to get land to pass down to his sons.
- What’s usually in his fridge or pantry? Potatoes at the very least. Mary may have added more foodstuffs since he visited the cupboard. (His answer.)
- What is she addicted to/can’t live without? She loves knitting. She once said she could be happy living in a rock field if only she had colorful yarn to work with.
- Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character. Mary is no-nonsense, but caring and hardworking. But she gets overly frustrated with lack of common sense, she is sometimes too blunt, and she’s not much of a people person–she’s polite and gracious, but not naturally diplomatic or outgoing.
- Is she holding onto something she should get rid of? Not that I know of; Mary doesn’t tend to get stuck in the past. Or hold on to material things. For one thing, there simply isn’t room in the cabin.
- If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where does she fall on the scale? 5-6. She tends to be tidy, but she also doesn’t fuss about everything being just so. She has more important things to think about.
- What most frustrates her about the world she lives in? I think it’s the lack of responsibility and initiative from other people, especially from those who are needed to pull their weight in the community or the government. (Mary is the sort of person who can easily see what needs to be done and why.)
- How would she dress for a night out? How would she dress for a night in? For a night out, she would probably fix her hair in a more elaborate style and wear her nice calico dress (red-brown sprigged with pink and green flowers). For a night in, she’d just wear her normal outfit: hair in a low bun, her sturdy work dress, and her favorite red gingham apron.
- How many shoes does she own, and what kind? Her work shoes, and one nicer pair for special occasions.
- Does she have any pets? What pet does she WISH they had? Pets, no. Vermin that intrudes upon her territory, yes. (Her answer.) And she doesn’t really want a pet; there’s not enough room in the cabin for a dog or cat underfoot. Although she let her son Alex keep the frog he caught, as long as he kept it away from the kitchen table. (The frog later escaped, though.)
- Is there something or someone that she resents? Why and what happened? Not that I’m aware of; Mary is not a complainer.
- What’s usually in her fridge or pantry? Potatoes, cornmeal, flour, beans, bacon, salt, coffee grounds, the herbs she found in the woods, sometimes leftover meat pie, sometimes cheese from their neighbors, and spices and molasses when the family can afford them. Mary loves to cook and takes pride in making good meals for her family.
- What is he addicted to/can’t live without? He keeps his notebook on hand and records what happened during the day and any expenses incurred–usually a line or two as a memory aid. He also records his nephews’ antics; and whenever he’s teaching, he keeps a record of his students’ progresses and skills and what they struggle with. He doesn’t trust fallible memory with something so important. As such, he would be upset if the book got lost.
- Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character. Durant takes his responsibilities seriously–so seriously that he’s keenly aware of the consequences of failure, and this fear affects his ability to assess and decide. He’s a hard worker, but sometimes gets distracted from the big picture. And he’s persevering–to the point of being stubborn.
- Is he holding onto something he should get rid of? He sometimes gets too easily discouraged by his own failures and setbacks, and he should let that go. He tends to drive himself harder the more frustrated or discouraged he gets. Also, in hindsight, he could probably have brought fewer books out west…but on the other hand, they are valuable possessions.
- If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where does he fall on the scale? This depends on what’s at stake. His notes, letters, and papers are tidy, as are the lesson plans whenever he works as a schoolmaster, but everything else…no.
- What most frustrates him about the world he lives in? The inefficiency of the colonial government. The whole purpose of the government is to govern and dispense justice, and if the government can’t do that job, something needs to change. He is also annoyed by any public attention–Durant never knows how to handle it and would prefer to work in the background.
- How would he dress for a night out? How would he dress for a night in? For special occasions, he has a nice blue coat to wear, though he always wears his boots. Otherwise, he wears his boots, his shabbier brown coat, and work clothes.
- How many shoes does he own, and what kind? Durant wears his boots almost everywhere, but I think he does have one pair of dress shoes. He just rarely wears them.
- Does he have any pets? What pet does he WISH he had? No pets; and he’s neutral-minded about them. He likes horses, though.
- Is there something or someone that he resents? Why and what happened? He usually resents his own failures or weaknesses more than anything else.
- What’s usually in his fridge or pantry? He has no idea (his answer).