Of the two below, which one would you say fantasizes about giving 5-year-olds the ortolan treatment or cherry-dipping kittens in lye?
Smart money’s on the guy with the glowing eye and bloody brow, right? So there I was, thinking my cash had a minimum IQ of 160 as I whipped these folks up in Artbreeder with a side order of Photoshop—two supporting characters of a cast of 15+.
Desher Foxglove and Angharad Sadat, otherwise known (in my head) as Thing 1 and Thing 2.
For those outside the NaNoWriMo zeitgeist (and it’s hardly a zeitgeist to start with, so no shock or shame there), April is one of two “Camps” during which writers sometimes come together in similar-interest pseudo-cults to sometimes achieve overambitious writing goals like word counts, pages numbers, and percentage of drafts edited—all in a single month. For those outside the NaNoWriMo zeitgest, you should also be aware that a great many campers crawl out of bed on April 1st with a pitiful vagary of an idea, a mashed-potato plot, and woefully hollow characters.
So what did I know, going in?
I know Desher’s a crack sniper. I know Angharad’s a witty mixologist. I know they share both a bed and a mutual hatred of fae (don’t ask) for some heinous crime committed long ago (please don’t ask; I don't know).
He’s Japanese. She’s Persian-Welsh. They enjoy Lagavulin neat and the occasional Whitetail Tom Collins, and don’t you dare forget those long walks on the beach.
You’d think the guy with the scope-bite and Barrett M82 would be the wicked one, but the thing about writing characters blind is that they tend to make a hobby of tearing rugs from under your feet and finger-gunning their way out of the flimsy personality cage you thought you built for them.
Angharad isn’t the snivel-prone victim I intended her to be. Desher isn’t the apathetic murderer I designed him to be. Angharad isn’t the one second-guessing their violent plots for revenge—it’s Mr. Desher Foxglove with the conscience and internalized doubt; the one with the glowing eye and bloody brow.
And Angharad’s an evil bitch.
While I enjoy building up a solid framework for my characters and find it extremely helpful to the process of crafting something sort-of close to resembling a decent story, I enjoy even more when they kick me in the gut, stomp on my neck, and tell me, quite forcefully, “Nope, not today.”
Who doesn't love a manipulative, remorseless, uber-homicidal bombshell?