Greetings and Salutations magnificent readers of the blog,
If you have been stopping by regularly, you may have noticed we found a rhythm. If you’re new, welcome aboard. Today we’re talking about fictional characters. Something we all should strive to be at least once a week. It keeps your friends and family on their toes, and sharpens your imagination.
I’ve chosen an example from Shadows Edge by Jami Gray. This is Raine McCord, on whom I have a crush, I will admit.
With a quick twist of her wrist, Raine slipped the blade between Quinn’s ribs. His heart gave one last desperate beat then fell silent. He slid slowly down her body to his knees in a strange, lover-like tableau.
Wrenching out her blade with a soft grunt, she held him in a gentle grasp, carefully lowering his lifeless body to the cracked concrete floor of the deserted warehouse. She closed his now dull brown eyes, knowing they would join the handful of others haunting her dreams.
In five sentences we have met a deadly killer who, takes the time to close the eyes of her victim and acknowledges those same eyes will haunt her dreams. An extraordinary conflict rages within this woman/assassin. Why do I have a crush on a deadly killer? You will have to read Shadows Edge to find out.
I mentioned A Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill last week. What follows is the opening few paragraphs.
Jude had a private collection.
He had framed sketches of the Seven Dwarfs on the wall of his studio, in between his platinum records. John Wayne Gacy had drawn them while he was in jail and sent them to him. Gacy liked golden-age Disney almost as much as he liked molesting little kids; almost as much as he liked Jude’s albums.
Jude had the skull of a peasant who had been trepanned in the sixteenth century, to let the demons out. He kept a collection of pens jammed into the hole in the center of the cranium.
He had a three-hundred-year-old confession, signed by a witch. “I did spake with a black dogge who sayd hee wouldst poison cows, drive horses mad and sicken children for me if I wouldst let him have my soule, and I sayd aye, and after did give him sucke at my breast.” She was burned to death.
He had a stiff and worn noose that had been used to hang a man in England at the turn of the century, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, and a snuff film. Of all the items in Jude’s collection, this last was the thing he felt most uncomfortable about possessing. It had come to him by way of a police officer, a man who had worked security at some shows in L.A. The cop had said the video was diseased. He said it with some enthusiasm. Jude had watched it and felt that he was right. It was diseased. It had also, in an indirect way, helped hasten the end of Jude’s marriage. Still he held onto it.
Joe Hill courageously introduces us to his protagonist, who is not very likable. We know he is a successful musician with macabre fans. Jude is insensitive to what others would think of his display of John Gacy’s drawings. He keeps pens in a skull of a peasant. In the last paragraph of this excerpt we see that even Jude is uncomfortable with the snuff film. “Still he held onto it.” Why does he feel compelled to keep it when he feels it’s diseased? These are the contradictions that keep us reading.
Last Wednesday I promised you a personal example, but first let me share what Jami Gray shared, was one of her favorite fictional characters. This is Kate Daniels from Ilona Andrew’s Magic Bites.
“I sat at a table in my shadowy kitchen, staring down a bottle of Boone’s Farm Hard Lemonade, when a magic fluctuation hit. My wards shivered and died, leaving my home stripped of its defenses. The TV flared into life, unnaturally loud in the empty house. I raised my eyebrow at the bottle and bet it that another urgent bulletin was on. The bottle lost.” –Ilona Andrews, MAGIC BITES
In five sentences we know a great deal about Kate. First, she keeps her home protected with magical wards. This implies to me she has enemies. She makes a bet with a bottle of Boone’s Farm Hard Lemonade. Her sense of humor is intact even in the face of what appears to be bad news. The voice Ilona gives to Kate pulls me right in, and I will keep reading.
Thanks Jami, good example. This gives the reader a real taste of what’s to come.
I’ve gone a little longer than planned today, but I promised a personal sample.
What follows is the first paragraph of Transformation, my current work in progress.
Alston slalomed his Honda Accord around the light poles that stood sentinel in the vast empty parking lot of MARS Engineering. The once bustling Philadelphia Naval Shipyard was a ghost town ever since the government shut it down. He enjoyed driving recklessly across the acres of empty parking on his way to work everyday. Down-shifting he locked up the wheels and skidded into his assigned parking spot. Designated parking was absurd since the lab employed less than a dozen people. Everyone parked more or less next to the door. Bolting from the car, he waved his badge at the reader. Forcing a smile and waved at the camera hoping Emily was on duty over in the security building.
What do you think? Do you want to know more? Or, are you looking for the nearest Goodwill store to dump this book on? Let me know what you think.
Next week we’ll talk about characters with no redeeming qualities.
As is the custom here I leave you with the words of someone wiser than myself.
“Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ~Anton Chekhov
Thanks For Tuning In,