It's been a while since I participated in A Novel Idea. September has been crazy busy lately, though I can't pinpoint why. I've written a lot recently on The Fangirl Initiative instead. But this week, I thought I would try to tackle A Novel Idea because I just can't resist this prompt!
This week, tell us about one of your favorite characters to write. What is your favorite part about writing them? Feel free to share photos and/or snippets.It took me some time to decide on a favorite character--I love all my characters, even the bad ones! But finally, I narrowed it down to a character I haven't introduced before: Estrid. Well, Estrid and Dar, since they appear in a story together.
Sometime last year, I asked a friend for a writing prompt just to get me going. He simply stated: write about dragons. Now, as you probably know, that's usually what I end up writing about. So I needed something a little more to go on. I began with a sentence, a small inkling of an idea, and suddenly I was off on an adventure that was quite unexpected, extraordinary, and exciting. I wrote an entire short story in the span of a few hours, hardly stopping for a break until I had created this entire world and breathed life into new characters.
Estrid and Dar and the Borrowing Barrows were born. And I adored it.
"In the dusty corner of the market place sat a small shop squashed between the newer, bigger buildings. It was shadowed and quiet, away from the fanfare of the center plaza where shoppers haggled over prices and exchanged gold pennies. The building was compacted, a strange-set up compared to the rest of the shops, which all had ample space and clean-cut, white or gray stones. This shop was made of dark, clay bricks, brittle and molting from age. It sat in the dark eaves of the towering shops like a trampled, withered plant."While I have yet to truly mull over and edit it, "Estrid and the Borrowing Barrows" still lingers in my mind as one of my greatest writing feats. I don't normally write short stories, but this one holds a special place in my heart and has inspired an entire collection of short stories centered in this new world. It's lovely.
Thus, Estrid and Dar are two of my favorite characters (along with Jett the Dragon). Estrid is a newly eleven-year-old girl, who visits the Borrowing Barrows for the first time on her birthday. The Borrowing Barrows is an old shop full of mystery, marvel, and magic. Dar, a man with fire for hair and a dragon for a friend, runs the shop. (Or something. He's kind of mysterious that way.) The story itself has been described as Alice in Wonderland meets Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium in Diagon Alley, which is absolutely delightful.
“Hello,” Estrid said again. She waved her hand, which made her scarf quiver as her fingers still had hold of the material.I think my favorite part about writing them is that they were so unexpected. Everything that I wrote came on a whim, which was fun and also adventurous. It wasn't anything I had written before. Estrid is adorable and also similar both to Alice (in Wonderland) and Lucy Pevensie (Narnia); she's quite smart for an eleven-year-old, but she still has this sense of wonder and belief in the mythical as well.
The fire-headed man nodded and grinned. “Hullo, welcome to Here.”
“Where is Here?” Estrid asked.
“Here? What’s here? I said ‘Welcome to Here,’ which is everywhere.”
Estrid laughed through her nose. “What is this place?”
“This is This Place. The place where Things Happen,” the man said. He rubbed his chin and patted the dragon on the head. “My name is Dar, and this is my good ole pal, Jett. He’s a dragon.”
Estrid nodded, which made Dar smile. He had two sharp teeth at the front of his mouth that glinted.
“Today is my birthday, and I have exactly eleven pennies. What can I buy here?” Estrid asked.
Dar frowned. He reach up and whipped his mirrored glasses off his face. Then he leaned in closer to Estrid and looked around wildly before whispering, “There isn’t anything to buy here, just to borrow. This is the Borrowing Barrows after all.”
Dar was also delightful to write because he was just so odd. He literally has fire for hair. He's also quirky, talks in riddles, uses big words, and may or may not be a vampire (or some other mythical entity). His best friend is a dragon, and he also has this mysterious and dramatic flair to him. (Basically, picture Howl from Howl's Moving Castle mixed with Sebastian Stan's Mad Hatter but with Robbie Kay's eyebrows.) It was so fun to create an adult character that 1. doesn't treat the child like she was stupid 2. can be eccentric without coming across childish and 3. believes in magic when most other people do not.
"The wall of books parted in a flash, gone off the middle of the desk and pushed to the edges. She saw a young man with fire for hair staring at her from behind mirrored glasses. Sitting on the desk next to him was a dragon no bigger than one of the tabby cats Estrid had at home."
"He lifted his pointer finger in the air—which suddenly turned dark black again—and made a wild expression with his face. A half grin with only part of his teeth sticking out and his right eyebrow twitch crazily above his hairline."Basically, these two characters inspired me to step out of my comfort zone of writing and to try something new. It worked, and I fell in love with a new kind of story craft. At some point, I'd love to develop this idea further and add more to the story.
Do you participate in A Novel Idea? Join us! Which characters do you love to write?