Writer’s Craft #14 – Character X, Character Y
A friend, named Kathleen Stewart, told me that my characters stand out because of their strong responses to each other. She was reading The Courtesan Prince, Part I of the Okal Rel Saga. This got me thinking about how SF, in particular, often portrays larger-than-life characters with traits that are easy to recognize. Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan is a hyperactive dwarf with a genius for improvising. You’d never confuse him with his tall and handsome, but much duller, cousin Ivan. Rubeus Hagrid, of Rowling’s Harry Potter series, is a good-hearted giant with a soft spot for malevolent creatures, while Harry’s other mentor, Sirius Black, is quick tempered, lean and cynical.
Here’s an excerpt from The Courtesan Prince in which I’ve replaced the names of the characters with the variables X and Y. Given the adjectives associated with each character (listed below the excerpt) can you match the variables with the right names? I am purposefully going to use a short passage, that isn’t particularly dramatic, in order to test the theory that characters can behave distinctly even in small things.
The challenge to you is to do the same thing with an excerpt from your own work and see if we can replace X and Y. If you don’t have something suitable, use an excerpt from a book you like.
“I make you nervous?” Y asked with a sudden smile.
X met his stare frankly and felt the Gelack recoil. “No,” he said, and meant it. “Is that an error?”
“Courage is never an error,” said Y, a bit sadly, and sighed. “I should explain your position, but first, please, eat your breakfast.”
- Ranar: even tempered, scholarly
- Di Mon: high strung, aristocratic