Monday, January 23, 2012

Favourite Character Blogfest

I found an interesting blogfest this morning, one specifically to introduce a favourite character you've written. 

The blogfest runs from January 23-25. Here's how it works:

1. Decide which of your characters you'd like to introduce everyone to, and choose a snippet about this character (preferably no more than 200 words) to share about this character. (A snippet from your manuscript would be awesome, but if you're not comfortable with that, you can choose to do a character sketch--something to show us your character and writing.)

2. Between January 23-25, tell us who your favorite character you've written is and why and post your snippet.

3. Hop around to other participants to check out their favorite characters and a bit of their story.



So, I mulled a little on which character to choose and ended up with a character who's not a character.

Okay, she is, but she's kindof not, 'cause she's dead and the only references to her are through the memories of a ten year old boy.

I chose Kaitlin from Project #3, tentatively titled 'Left & Right'. You can read more on my 'what I'm writing' page, but the basic premise is a boy who was in a motorcycle accident which killed his sister. He lost his ability to speak, and a number of memories. He did gain two invisible friends, which has to do with Kaitlin and the accident, but is not directly relevant to this blogfest.

Kaitlin is Alexander's older sister who died in the accident. She's a bit of a mystery to me, but I do know a few things about her. She's actually Alexander's half-sister from the father's previous marriage. She fights (or fought, I guess, since she's dead...) with her new mother a lot and had a somewhat back-and-forth teasing relationship with her dad. She was around 18 or 19 when she died. I think she loved her brother in her own way, and Alexander was in awe of her 'cause she was everything he wasn't, bold, opinionated, and free.

I think I chose her because her death left such a gaping hole in his life. Alexander is broken from the accident, both literally (his stitched-up head), and emotionally (his inability to speak). What he wants more than anything else is just to see his sister again... and it breaks my heart a little.

Since Kaitlin only lives in Alexander's memories, here are a few snippets in chronological order (completely first-draft material):

I try to swallow, but my throat hurts too much, and then I think of Kaitlin. I don’t mean to think about her, but when I imagine what she’d say if she saw me cowering on the floor, I feel guilty, so I look up.

I wish Kaitlin was still here. I bet she would know and I think my throat wouldn’t close up if I tried to talk to her.

The next one needs a lead-up, basically, a kid in Alexander's class smushed a black/rotten banana into his school stuff:

I pick my jacket up off the floor and pull it on. I don’t care about the other stuff and I don’t care about the drawing. My throat tightens up until it’s hard to even breathe. I had left it at school on purpose. They were daisies, Kaitlin’s favourite flower. I was going to give the drawing to her for her birthday, but she’s dead now, so it doesn’t matter that it got wrecked.


There’s this really cool gazebo in the backyard that came with the house. Mom hates it ‘cause the wood goes all green and slimy in the winter, but I like it. It’s still too early, but in the spring, birds build their nests up near the ceiling where the beams come together. Last summer Kaitlin and I threw down blankets and stayed there for hours and hours. When we were real still and didn’t talk for a long time, the babies would poke their heads out and cheep and you could watch the parents fly back and forth and feed them bugs and stuff. It was neat.

Mari is one of Alexander's invisible friends:

I’m wearing a jacket over my sweater, but there aren’t any goosebumps on Mari’s bare skin. I wonder again if she’s a ghost. Maybe when you’re dead, you don’t get cold. I hope that’s true. Kaitlin always hated the cold.


He’s [A & K's father] found the Monday night football game and Seattle must be playing. With my fork, I push another green bean to the side of my plate and I wonder if he’s feeling lonely. Kaitlin loved green beans. She always used to watch football with dad and cheer really loudly for whatever team was playing against Seattle. I don’t think she really liked the game, ‘cause she didn’t have a favorite team or anything. I think she just liked to make him mad.

These last two sections are separated by about a page, but are continuations of the same thought:


I lied. It’s not that I don’t remember the accident, I remember some parts, but not the whole thing. It’s like someone’s spilled a box of puzzle pieces in my head and only a few landed right-side up. The edges are sharp, like razor blades, and when I try to fit them together, it hurts and all the right-side up pieces turn red against the grey upside-down ones. Spots of red on grey. Blood on cement. Mine or hers, I’m not sure which, but probably both. You don’t get seventeen stitches in your head for no reason, and they don’t keep the coffin lid shut at the funeral unless you’re messed up real bad.


The doctor said the helmet saved my life, but I don’t know why I was wearing one ‘cause I wasn’t allowed to ride Kaitlin’s bike. Mom would’ve had a fit. She always said she’d kill me if she caught me even sitting on the seat and she told Kaitlin she’d throw the bike keys down the garburator and flip the switch. For Kaitlin, that was a threat worse than death, and mom would’ve done it. When she caught Kaitlin smoking last year, she put Kaitlin’s cigarettes down the garburator. Her makeup once, too, but since the sink spat tobacco bits all over the kitchen, mom held a pot lid over the opening, which was good. Even with that, mom's hand got cut a little from the flying shards of pink plastic. Kaitlin just laughed, but she did run and fetch a bandaid.
I wish I could remember Kaitlin’s face. When I’m home and staring at the family photos on the wall, I see her and think, oh yeah, that’s what she looked like, but as soon as I step away, it’s gone. Like one of the grey upside-down puzzle pieces in my head, I can see the shape of her and where she used to fit, but the details are still flipped over and hidden. She was dark, like dad, but I can’t picture what her nose or eyes were like or how her face looked when she laughed.
But she did laugh. I think she laughed.

39 comments:

  1. Intriguing choice. I love the bits and pieces, fitting them together to see Kaitlin as a whole. You write emotions very well and that adds to the vividness of the pieces.

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    1. Thanks, Christine! This is my first attempt at writing in 1st person POV, so I'm glad the emotion is getting through... even if my clumsy attempt needs a lot of work ;)

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  2. yes you do write emotions well and your snippets were very heartwarming If I have time I might try the blogfest. I thought of my character immediately I assume you did not include all of the information you have here in the blogfest - I will look in a minute

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    1. Glad you joined the blogfest, Sue! Yeah, I don't usually join many, but that's primarily because so many people have word verification on their blogs... which always turns my dyslexic brain inside-out. After all, if I want to join the blogfest, I want to commit to reading everyone's... and I can't do that with a migraine ;)

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  3. so sad but realistic, lots of details and drama for this poor kid! nice job!

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    1. Thanks! ...not sure if the *voice* is quite right for a 10 year old boy though... sometimes his introspection feels too *old* for his age.

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  4. Poor guy. He seems real and I feel like I know him already because you get into his head so well.

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    1. Thanks, Alice :) Though I do know there's a lot that needs re-writing... it's still a story I'd like to tell.

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  5. You have a unique way of viewing things. I think your character choice is touching. Seems that, even though she's not actively running about, she's a central piece of things for young Alexander.

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    1. @ Angela

      Yes, she certainly is a central piece. I think that's what interests me the most about this particular story, the gaping hole which remains after someone dies.

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  6. This was an awesome post. I will put a little blurb of my own characters on my blog: http://www.dreamwritepublish.blogspot.com/ I think a blog-hop on this topic is a great idea. :) I'm a new follower and look forward to reading your future posts.
    :)

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    1. I checked out your blog, but didn't see the blurb... I'll have to check back later :)

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  7. Every time I read something of yours I think 'this is the one I want to read all of', then you post something new and I want that one too :-)

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    1. Thanks, Sarah :) ...sorry for screwing with you ;) Right now I'm just a little too tried of death to keep on with Alexander's story, or Triss & Jackson... I'm not usually this distracted in hopping around between characters/stories :)

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  8. Sounds like an interesting story! You've done a nice job writing in his POV.

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  9. Oh! How lovely and sad all at the same time. Thanks for sharing this.

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  10. Awww *sniff* That was so well done. I love your voice in this story. Well done. I so want to read this.

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    1. Thank you, Donna, though when I do revisit this particular story, I know I need to pay more close attention to Alexander's age.

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  11. This isn't my usual thing, but I find myself drawn in (an indication of your excellent writing). Good job.

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    1. Glad to hear I managed to lure you in then ;)

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  12. Wow. Very powerful and poignant. Thanks for sharing.

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  13. Dude. Your prose is seriously spellbinding. Kaitlin's voice is excellent! I'm seriously taking lessons from you. :)

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    1. Dude. From you, that's high praise indeed. Shall we do a manly fist-bump now?

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  14. Your writing is absolutely beautiful (both the language and the imagery)... and sad, but in a beautiful way. Great character choice!

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  15. I particularly liked the last two sections (starts from "I lied", which is a very provocative first sentence in and of itself) the best. Although it's somewhat more about grief and loss and losing control and growing up and away, I really liked how Alexander's grief is shown there. Kaitlin's needling her dad over football and laughing when her step mom put her things down the garbage disposal were very revealing! (^__^)

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    1. Thanks, yeah, still not sure if the voice sounds too mature though... he is only 10.

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  16. Sometimes the stronger characters are the ones we see from other character's eyes. From this piece, we learn so much about Kaitlin, but also Alexander. Love it.

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    1. It's a particular favourite technique of mine to show characters through the eyes of someone else. I think... since we can never truly know what's inside someone else's head, that division between our understanding of what's going on, and what's ACTUALLY going on is super interesting.

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  17. Gorgeous portrait of both Kaitlin and Alexander. Beautifully done! I quite see why she'd be a favorite.

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    1. I think I like her so much 'cause I only know her through Alexander's lens... and he loves her. Perhaps, if I was writing from someone else's perspective, I wouldn't like her as much ;)

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  18. Your writing style is gorgeous! I love it. I really do :)

    Keep writing. You'll definitely get published.

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Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)