This is an author's blog written by Pico Triano. 'Pico's Profile' will tell you a little about me. 'Pico's Stuff' will lead you to links and information on how you can access all my publicly available writing. 'Friends and Family' advertises websites on behalf of family and friends. The 'Friend Book Reviews' page is where I review materials written by the many friends I have made as a writer. Finally I recently added a review page for general reviews.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Making a new major character for Rat in the Shadows.

Sandy Middleton was a fun character to create and her creation illustrates techniques you may not actually need but might find useful. She predates the storyline of Rat in the Shadows and I wasn't even considering her for a part in a sequel to Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. I liked her character but had trouble coming up with a storyline where she was the sole star of the show. An idea for a first chapter for a sequel came to me during a brainstorming session with my children. I thought it was a good start and wrote down the first chapter to avoid forgetting the feel of it. A friend immediately spotted it on and egged me on until there were eight chapters. While Camp NaNoWriMo is not a smashing success for me this time around due to personal time constraints, I do have a rough outline in my head to the end of the story and another four and a half chapters written so far. That's a lot more than I started the month with.

This young heroine started out as an assignment for a children's book writing course through The Children's Literature Institute. I needed to observe a young person in action doing some activity and write a complete profile of my new character. I later had to put her in a short story. Our family had just moved a couple of times in rapid fire succession. We didn't know anyone where this could be accomplished easily. Especially considering we didn't have transportation besides our feet. Took me some real creative thought as to where to go for this. Robert J Ray in his book The Weekend Novelist recommends a similar exercise for creating new characters by the way that he calls "stranger in a room". I decided the best place to go would be the local arena. Maybe write about some young hockey player. The little outing turned out to be golden. For appearances sake I dragged the whole family along. Random middle aged men lurking around youth activities might attract unwanted attention. We stumbled on a figure skating class of children about the right age for my assignment.

I don't think we'd settled our rear ends on the wooden seats for more than five minutes before I spotted my character. Some boys but mostly girls skated around taking turns at different stations on the ice practicing various figure skating skills. Sandy was hanging out with a friend enthusiastically going through the different routines. The two girls were a complete contrast. Her friend was dressed in a special figure skating outfit and looked like she was having a difficult time staying warm. "Sandy" was wearing black ski pants, a purple sweatshirt and a purple scrunching holding her blonde hair in a medium length ponytail. She didn't look like a rich kid but she looked comfortable. She executed most of the skills without trouble. By the way she put her hands on her head after spins though it was obvious she was struggling with dizziness.

My children were into the process right along with me. We chatted back and forth while I made my notes. We had plenty of time to get all the material I needed to complete my assignment. It turned out to be a fun outing.

Once the assignments were done Sandy ended up filed away for future use. I think she ends up being a great fit for Rat in the Shadows

Related Articles and Links

Sneak Peek: Rat in the Shadows Chapter I
LSDL Character Development Part I
LSDL Character Development Part II
LSDL Character Development Part III
LSDL Character Development Part IV

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