Monday, June 10, 2013

Progress with --Amos-- Alatar Fuddle

Working on editing The Witch's Key, and realizing I needed to do some major character work with A. Fuddle, I have found myself with a major blockage. However, my Number 1 rule of writing is: Think positively. That sounds more than a little corny, but it works.

Basically, I don't allow myself to have negative thoughts like "I'm stuck" or "I can't figure out this character." The moment I feel that way, I sit down and try to make myself proactively figure out a solution to the problem. This is probably a good method for life in general. I'm not to the point where I can do it with all my problems, but I can generally do it with writing.

So I didn't let myself think "I can't figure out Fuddle" but rather made myself sit down today and start working character sheets.

First, I found a picture of him. This was really hard, as I knew nothing about what he looked like! I tried searching for Wizard, but only got sketches of old men with grey beards. I tried Male Witch, but mostly got pictures of weirdos. However, I did notice during these searches that I was pulled in by ones who were blond. So I searched: "Blond man in thirties" and finally, finally found this picture:

Having a picture of him gave me some grasp of who he was, and I was able to move on from there.

Next, I sat down with a very, VERY basic questionnaire, with questions like "Eye/Hair Color," "Major Strength," "Life Goal." And found myself stymied by question number one: "Name."

In the original draft, his name was Amos Fuddle. There was no real reason for me to change that, but with all the struggles I have been having with this character, I thought a change of name might help. I do love his last name, though, so I thought I would only change the first name. I have a lot of Harry Potter references throughout the book, so I felt no twinge of regret in getting rid of Amos. Now the difficulty was finding something to replace it.

First I looked at a list of Norse gods. Most of them were impossible to pronounce; this was a pity, as I was really tempted to name him Andhrimnir (for the chef of the gods.) However, his name gets mentioned way too often to give him something as hard as Andhrimnir, and 'And' is a silly nickname. So I moved on to the Wikipedia list of fictional magicians (a good reference.) Really, all I learned is that his name definitely begins with an A. Every name I have ever found that might fit him starts with that letter. Right now, I am calling him Alatar, because I don't have a Tolkien reference in my names yet, and Alatar is awesome.

Whew! Done with question one. I moved on. Question two: Birthday. November 23 (no significance, just what he answered when I asked him his birthday.)

Question three: Birthplace

Stuck again!! Why would Fuddle not answer basic questions? These weren't even obtrusive (yet)! I needed a way to get to know him. Talking out loud didn't feel right, and setting up a Facebook was out of the question. What I needed was to get him talking in a different way.

Back when I was about ten, I used to sit and have text-based conversations with my characters in Notepad documents. These were silly and random, but sometimes gave me good information about my characters. It seemed like now was a good time to pull out this exercise. So here is the conversation I had with "Alatar" Fuddle:

Alright, Mister Fuddle, let's take this time to get to know you, shall we? 

Very well. 

Do you have a first name that I can work with?

You may call me Alatar. 

Is that your name? 


It's not your name, is it? Fine. We can work with Alatar for now. So, why don't you tell me about yourself?

What would you like to know?

What is the most relevant thing I should know about you? 

I'm not sure how to answer that. Why don't you ask me what you want to know? 

Alright: What do I want to know?

That isn't what I meant. What I meant was: why don't you ask me the questions you want me to answer?

Alright, well, how long have you lived in Pinewood? 

Twenty eight years. 

How old are you?

Forty six. 

Where did you live before? 


Where is that? 


Why did you move?

It was time to start out on my own. 

Why Pinewood? 

It seemed as good a place as any. 

It's rather far from Colorado. 

I wanted to get away. 

From what? 


What in particular? 

My parents. 


I was in search of independence  Every young man starting off should move himself as far away from home, from "the nest" you might say, as possible. This gives him the opportunity to stand on his own two feet, to make or break it on his own. 

I didn't take you for the independent type. No offense. I just though you were more of a follower than a leader. 

I have made that decision. Yes, I may follow rather than lead, but not out of weakness of will or character (no matter what miss Owens says), but because I am wise enough to know who to follow. I don't need to be the one in charge. I have no such pride. 

You seem to be known for your fiery speeches. 

I make myself heard. 

Speaking out is important to you? 

The world must be educated. As I learn things and find direction, I feel it is my responsibility to share those edifications. One will never change the world by staying silent. 

You want to change the world? 

It is in dire need of change. 

What direction would you like to see it take? 

One for the better, hopefully for those with magic. You see, Miss Larson, we have been forced into a very poor style of life. We are trapped in tiny communities. We are forced into subjection, cowering in fear as those without magic have hunted our ancestors and would no doubt hunt us if they knew of our existence. We have faced generations of bigotry and stereotypes. If we do not rise up, we will find even what meager form of life we have scraped together crushed until we are nothing more than the terrible stories the mundanes tell. 

You really believe you have been treated so poorly? 

One has only to look at history to see that that is true. What is more, mundane literature and entertainment continues to be full of lies about us. These terrible tropes will be our undoing if we let them continue. 

Why have you latched onto Stodder specifically? 

He is a man with a plan who respects the contributions I have to offer. We compliment one another's work styles well. He does not always communicate with me, and I do not understand his inclusion of Miss Owens in his plans, but I still feel it is a good match. 

What is your problem with Rolanda? 

She is young and unexperienced, which leads her to be hasty and temperamental  She has time and again tried to cut me out of the equation. To be honest, and this is just between you and me, I think she is only in this because of some peculiar attachment she has to Stodder. She does not believe in our cause, she is only dedicated to him. That seems to be a flimsy foundation for such an important venture. She will never be able to convince anyone to join us if her only argument is "Stodder is amazing." 

What do you think this attachment she has for him is? 

I don't know. He has been her master since she was very young. It may be simple loyalty. Stodder is a great man. Her loyalty is well placed, but I fear it distracts her. One should never look to a single individual, but rather see the cause in its entirety and truly believe in what one is fighting for. 

In a single word, what are you fighting for? 


You don't feel you are free now? 

Not to do what I please. Not to travel nor to work, nor even to proclaim what I am. If I am to travel outside the walls of my little, protected village I must lie about who I am. Even my name I should have to keep a secret--

You do that anyways. 

--and I could not hold my head high. I am proud of who and what I am, Miss Larson. Everyone should be. Everyone should be able to say "This is who I am!!" without fear of being struck down for it. I do not have that right. Nor do any of my friends. This saddens me. I want to see a world where I may be honest about myself and still be accepted. 

And you believe Stodder will help you make this world?

I believe he and I share the same ideals. I hope that we can achieve this level of world harmony together. 

After doing this exercise, the other pieces of Fuddle's character have really come together! I am having a much easier time filling out character sheets for him, and hope to see him flow much better when I rewrite the scenes he is in. I think I understand his motivation and his place in the story a little better now. I hope to see that shining through in my next draft.

So that is how I got to know Alatar Fuddle.


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