Getting to Know You - Character Fractalling

The dictionary says 'fractalling' is not a word. Well, I did it, so I know it must exist. Contrary to my normal nature, I willingly received a character fractalling sheet from a friend and I set myself down to take the main character of Between Earth and Sky apart and put him back together. I don't not do this on a regular basis because I think fractalling squashes a character. On the contrary, I had no notion that such a thing existed. So, you see, I can sympathize with the dictionary.

Fractalling, for those who do not know, like myself, is essentially taking your character totally apart at the outset, and putting him slowly back together under the guidance of several key adverbs (with the occasional preposition): who, what, why, if, when, where, how. A lovely little cadence it makes. In short, you are doing a character profile the way business folk do it. At first it seems infinitely tedious and repetitive, but as I went along, I realized that each question built upon the one that came before it, and by the time I had squeezed through the inexorable IF and had tumbled through WHEN and WHERE to HOW, Rede was all but a living, breathing, flesh-and-blood figure at my side. He had depth I would not have thought of otherwise, features that were previously dream-blurry. When November 1st comes and I sit down to write that pesky first chapter, I won't be making a character - the character is already made.

I am simplifying this of necessity because the fractalling sheet can be found somewhere in the unfamiliar labyrinth of the Holy Worlds Christian Fantasy forum. (Nice place, by the way: lovely people.) I must say, fractal your characters. Take an hour or a whole morning or a whole day just to answer the questions WHO is your character in his essence, WHAT is your character, WHY is he that way, IF he wasn't, what would he be, WHEN you meet him, what impresses you about him, WHERE does he live and what affect does that have on him, and, lastly, HOW does your character look?

Like any human being that isn't Jason Bourne, a character will have a backstory, a history, a whole up-till-now life's worth of thought patterns which define him in the moment. You need to find out what this is, or make it up, before you begin. Not only does this make for a more convincing character, it makes writing the character a lot easier, and helps protect against those embarrassing moments of inconsistency. Of course, like any human being, your character will have those moments where he acts contrary to the rest of his being and beliefs. We all do that, within reason, and it helps make the character even more realistic - but in general inconsistencies are a breed of bad form. A character's childhood and upbringing define him. His very countryside defines him (New Yorkers, anyone?). Little details which we all take for granted impact us and shape us every day, and they are all very important when you go to make a character of your own.

So take a good long look at your characters before you write the first chapter. You won't be disappointed that you did.

Chariots! Must Have Chariots!

There are chariots in my NaNo, because everything is better with chariots. Would Ben-Hur be nearly as famous as it is now without the chariot-race? (All right, that's kind of a pity, because the rest of Ben-Hur is pretty awesome too.) But think about it: the living drum of wheels and hooves and standing nearly on top of your horses while you're driving is simply exhilarating! Where can you go wrong putting that in a story?

I won't be using Roman chariots, however. My NaNo, Between Earth and Sky, is Celtic-based; Irish, specifically, being a sort of fantastical re-telling of Saint Patrick's story. "Sort of" being the operative phrase. I was inspired by the legends surrounding Patrick, but otherwise I have run with my own ideas. But the Insular peoples had chariots, so it was the easiest step in the world to pull them into my story.

This is perhaps the most daunting of my stories to date. Because of the nature of my main character, I will be delving into theology on a regular basis. I enjoy theology, but because I am so young and so inexperienced, the room for error is big enough to be the mud-room at Versailles. I have already warned Daddy that I will be running to him frequently for help, but hopefully I know more than I think I do. It will, at the very least, be a good exercise of my knowledge. So it is daunting, but I am excited about it. In a way, November first can't come fast enough, and in a way it is approaching all too soon. So here's to the Irish landscape, waters, and her airs, and here's to my pen that it may not run dry through November.

Amazon and Release Date

The Shadow Things, along with Abigail's The Soldier's Cross can be found and pre-ordered on Amazon.com. The release is scheduled for October 29th, so keep an eye out if you feel like picking the books up in bookstores instead of ordering online. If you want a signed copy, email me (sprigofbroom293@gmail.com) and send me your address, or some address remotely related to you, so I can send you an autographed book. The price of The Shadow Things is $12.99, but direct buyers will also be paying the shipping fee. If you want an autographed copy, email me and tell me how you want it shipped and I will factor that into the price.

Of course, since I'm also doing NaNo this year along with Abigail, I may not live to enjoy seeing people read my book...