For Camp NaNoWriMo July I’m building a worldbook for the November NaNoWriMo novel. This includes ramping up the characters from nothing into ‘how they are as the story started’… so time to start unraveling the nothing and making some fictives!
What follows is a MuseFic themed character sketch to get comfortable with the personality of the character and make her a little more ‘solid’. It’s a rambling collection of random backstory, basic description, and some worldbuilding (it sneaks in, I can’t help it!)
From Nothing, Protagonist!
“Arise!” the Author gestured dramatically at her couch and a rather annoyed fictive materialised. Damini was still a little fuzzy around the edges, but the mid-thirties woman of pakistani/indian descent existed, which was better than a few seconds ago. The Author was quite proud of herself.
“I am not a demon,” Damini Cole snapped, crossing her arms narrowing dark brown eyes that glinted like a disapproving aunt’s. “Would you like to try that again?”
“Err, umm..” the Author attempted to find something suitably appeasing, but all she could come up with was ‘Here kitty, kitty’ and that was probably not the best idea.
“This is going to be a long month.” said Damini with a sigh and looked down at herself with mild curiosity. A few self-edits later and she went from the default of jeans and a t-shirt to a pair of capris and a nice blouse. Her long black hair braided itself into a thick ponytail that ended right below her shoulder blades. “You have horrible taste.”
“Jeans are perfectly acceptable defaults.” the Author groused, “It’s standard American fare!”
“For people who engage in manual labor,” the fictive sniffed. “As I am not doing yardwork, nor mucking out a barn, I will look presentable, thank you.”
“You are seriously going to make me keep track of your outfits?” To be fair, the fictive now looked like she could conquer the world in time for lunch.
“Mention it once,” said Damini, “after that the readers will know I’m capable of dressing myself appropriately for the situation.” She flicked her fingers and materialized a nice set of bracelets, a necklace, and some intricate leather sandals. “Presentation is everything, it gives me an advantage in many situations– I’d be foolish not to take advantage of the fact.”
“Dare I ask what you do for a living? Because right now I’m thinking ‘lawyer,’” muttered the Author, no longer as enamored of her proto-fictive now that it had a mind of it’s own.
“Office Manager,” countered Damini, “I like having my own little kingdom, being a lawyer means I’m working in someone else’s house. A small to medium company, maybe a few hundred people total, with a staff of four working for me.”
“You have a kingdom built on toner.” It wasn’t a question.
“Exactly,” she nodded. “I keep everyone in paperclips and copy paper and they pretty much leave me alone. Boxes of blue pens hold the world together.”
“You are a very very strange fictive,” said the Author with a sigh, giving up any hope of controlling anything in the story.
“If we were all the same, what would be the point of writing stories?” laughed Damini. “Besides, the more we exist, the more– ‘self’ we have, the easier November will be.” She leaned forward, gesturing at the pile of notes that was becoming a worldbook. “This, all of this, it already exists you’re just putting it on paper so we can unroll the story without having to stop and research.”
“Where ‘research’ equals ‘make things up as we go along’.” The Author was not impressed.
“No, because making things up isn’t the same as discovering how they are supposed to be. Think of Dogs of the Never Never, there everything ended up contradicting itself until the story died because the things that were simply couldn’t be.” Damini tapped the papers. “This month we build the foundation, the structure, and come November we just turn the story loose.”
“Is that a subtle hint that I’d better get the magic system right this time?” The Author gave her fictive a look, such as cats give owners who tell them to stop knocking things off shelves.
“Among other things.”
“I hate to point this out, but the story idea I’d been working with really doesn’t seem to fit you,” the Author frowned. “I just can’t see you reacting in a way that would make the story flow the way it needs to go.”
“Then let it flow another way,” Damini sat back in the sofa and materialized a glass of iced tea in a tall thin glass complete with straw and a sprig of mint. “You thought of a situation, all we are doing this month is setting up the scene, not dictating how it will resolve”
The Author grumbled and move her rough outline of the main story beats over into the ‘did not survive contact with the
enemy fictives’ pile.
“So,” said Damini, confidently sipping her tea, “what else do you need to know about me?”
“Everything?” the Author waved her arms at the table covered with random doodles and outlines. “Lorne is getting his own meet and greet, but why on earth would someone like you be willing to drop everything to try and save him? It just doesn’t make sense. You’re too embedded with this life, you’d lose too much to just hightail it.”
“That is incredibly rude.” snapped Damini. “Am I that mercenary to you? I am effective, not heartless. Don’t for one moment take my power, power I purposefully cultivated, to make me into some uncaring narcissist.”
“And I’m supposed to assume you made zero plans for when Lorne turns? You know he’s an impulsive thrill-seeker and that’s not someone who’s going to hoard his magic, much less make his own plans for when the shadow takes over.” The Author retorted. “You, I can see you hoarding magic, using it sparingly knowing you were looking at a death sentence, but there is no Plan B once you hit that tipping point.”
“I made my own plans,” Damini said, putting down her drink to better guessture accusingly at the Author. “I made plans, maybe not good ones, but the best I can with the world as it is. There are refuges, zoos– the world isn’t a firing squad for the shadow-claimed that you are trying to make it out to be. These are our families: parents, children, cousins, we don’t just discard them like trash once they are lost.”
“But they have to,” objected the Author, “that’s how the story works–”
“Then break that story!” snapped Damini. “That’s what worldbuilding is for, to tear down ideas that don’t work and let ones that do take their place.”
The Author and fictive glared at each other for a moment.
“Fine,” the Author finally said, “fine. I don’t want another DotNN or an unfinished NaNo.” She took a deep breath, stared at the table and then shrugged and knocked off all of the papers. “So we start over.”
“Worldbuild for a bit, then come back,” said Damini, not unkindly. “Everything will look better once you have that hashed out.” She picked her drink back up and took a calming sip.
“This is going to be one odd November,” sighed the Author, gathering materials to start over again.
“Onwards!” Damini agreed.