Really, brain, really?
I feel like Diana in The Shadow of Night (second in the Deborah Harkness trilogy that begins with A Discovery of Witches and ends with The Book of Life). All it takes is a single question or moment of curiosity to start my brain cogitating and weaving out new ideas. Sometimes, I wish I had more trouble with ideas. Then maybe my actual writing could catch up.
This time it was: Good gods, I’m tired of sexy, brooding, angsty vampires. What would a good story these days look like with monstrous vampires?
Three days later, I have some character profiles and the bare bones of a backstory.
I always start with character profiles, because that’s were story starts, for me. Sure, the whole thing began with asking what monstrous vampires would look like post-Twilight, but that matters only so far as the characters who will be interacting with said vampires, and their motivations for doing so.
When building characters, I start with names and their meanings.
I have three main characters so far, though I’m thinking I’ll only follow two of them for a while: siblings Sophia, Monica, and Gregory.
Sophia, of course, means “wisdom,” and Monica means “truth,” while Gregory means “steadfast, watchful.”
So I take these meanings, and I build characters around them. Sophia, for instance, is bookish and her favorite subjects are English/Literature and Psychology. She has the ability to see deeply into a person’s motivations. Monica is also no slouch in the school department, but she prefers history, biology, and chemistry–she prefers subjects with concrete answers to those with room for interpretation (I suppose no one gave her the memo about history). Monica has the ability to see the surface truth of things, which might translate to a form of telepathy; if someone is cheating on their spouse, Monica will know it whether or not they tell her. Sophia, meanwhile, will be able to see deeper and understand the implications and also the reasons. Monica often believes she’s right when she’s not, and can be reckless and make snap decisions.
Truth and Wisdom go together, you see, and truth is great, but wisdom goes deeper.
Gregory, on the other hand, unlike his younger sisters, will have to grow into the meaning of his name. Right now, he’s not been so steadfast, or watchful. In fact, he’s run away and turned a blind eye to a lot of his past. He has good reasons for doing so, but he’s still suffering the consequences, and doesn’t know there are more on the way. He’s eventually going to have to rejoin his sisters, whether or not doing so is the right thing.
There’s more, but I think I’ve made my point. My brain goes into overdrive on a new story idea, churns out some characters and a backstory, and then peters out and starts the process all over again the next time I have a wandering thought.
It’s quite annoying.