Someone asked a very good question on the NaNoWriMo Facebook page: How old are your favourite original characters? I blinked and then had to do math. Math! And man, did I feel strange afterwards. My favourites are twenty-years old. You read that right. Twenty. My first short stories with them were written when I was eleven. I am now thirty-one.
I then did some even more scary math because people then wanted to know how long I’d been writing. The first stories my mom has saved are from kindergarten, though I apparently was writing stories a bit before that first saved one. This means I’ve been writing stories for twenty-five to twenty-six years at least and novels for nineteen. Readers-mine, I feel old.
Here’s the thing about characters you write for twenty years… They are family. They are a very real part of my psyche. They are bits and pieces of my personality, other people’s personalities, and have completely their own personalities. Their voices are unique in my head. They are individuals. I can tell you more details about them than I can for many of my friends and extended family members. I can describe them in such detail that I’m almost afraid to ask an artist to create them, but I’m also curious to see what artists would create. Certainly a police sketch artist would be rather confused by the fact that I can describe non-human, fictional characters more clearly than I can many people that I’ve known for years.
I suppose, in some way, it’s an accomplishment. Many people write a character and then are done. Others, only write characters from other people’s work. I’ve always written my own people and for the last twenty years, the world of Four Corners has been growing and expanding. I have more detail about the world and the people. I have two different timelines, eight major races, a pantheon of fifty-nine different gods and goddesses, over one hundred islands, a cast of several hundred major and minor characters, and seven books that take place in two different worlds. Yes, I have other books and other series that I’m working on at the same time, but at this point, I just need to be done editing like a crazy person and actually get this stuff out. It is time for me to stop with alpha and beta readers, get it where I want it to be, and then get it to an agent.
On this, the twentieth anniversary of my first solid set of characters, I have determined that I need to set myself weekly goals and have people/a person to keep me accountable. I am going to create a calendar and actually work my way through it. Anyone out there feel like being my weekly check-in person?