1. Sapphire at Dawn
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    Sapphire at Dawn Member

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    Help needed developing MC

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Sapphire at Dawn, Jul 21, 2016.

    I'm having trouble with the beginning of my story, and I think part of it is down to my MC being very underdeveloped at the beginning. I just can't work out who she is and how she shapes the story.

    Filly is 19 and lives in 1830s England. She had a clandestine relationship with the son of her father's business partner and he convinces her to marry by handfasting. They then tell their parents what they have done, but the groom's father is not happy and orders his son to abandon her. Their handfast marriage is not legally binding as it was not officiated by a priest, so it is easy to do. Filly then discovers she is pregnant and is practically disowned by her family. My story starts when she and her illegitimate son go to live with a sort of aunt in the countryside where she presents herself as a young widow to save her reputation.

    Filly is a romantic idealist before the story begins. She's captivated by the old tales of heroes and fairies and the idea of the perfect, chivalrous knight, which is why she gets so deeply involved with Edward (the young man she 'marries'). After all this has happened, she's forced into reality and is confronted by the stark realisation that life is not like the stories she loves. There aren't always happy-ever-afters and the perfect knight isn't as perfect as he first appears.

    After she moves to the countryside, she becomes involved in the labourer's revolt known as the Swing Riots. She's craving excitement and is tempted by the thrill of adventure that these activities bring. It also appeals to the romantic side of her and she begins to see herself as a Maid Marian type character, helping the poor people of the village to rebel against the wicked squires and parsons who have taken their livelihoods. She also begins to fall for Kit, the leader of the revolt in the village. She's wary of falling in love again, acutely aware of what happened last time, and also that she's lying to Kit. But her romantic side can't help itself and the result is a mix of pushing on and shying away.

    What I'm having trouble with is the beginning of the story. I can't decide how her experiences would affect her and how she comes across at the beginning of the story. Help!
     
  2. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    If this where she enters the story I expect bitterly disillusioned, withdrawn. Very protective of her son, non-communicative so no one will learn her secret. Inwardly very ashamed... it's the 19th century, and she is a product of that age. Either turning toward religion to seek forgiveness, or rejecting it as best one can do in a 19th century village without attracting attention she doesn't want or need... meaning she will still attend church, regardless of how she feels about it. Is the "sort of an aunt" protective, helpful, or just sheltering her out of family responsible but treating her coldly or even nastily? Explore that relationship, perhaps first. Then explore ways for her to break out of that mindset.
     
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  3. Sapphire at Dawn
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    Sapphire at Dawn Member

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    Yep, that's what I was thinking.

    I was actually walking round the village church yesterday imagining a couple of scenes to do with religion. I haven't decided which way I'll go yet, perhaps I can do both. Start out with rejection but have her turn more towards religion as the story progresses. I'll have to decide what fits the story best.

    The aunt is one of my favourite characters to write. She's based off a real person I found in a book and is rather enlightened for her time and situation, yet incredibly backwards at the same time. She'll be treating Filly with a sort of no-nonsense indifference. She wouldn't tolerate moping around or negativity, she's of the opinion that what has happened to Filly has happened, now get on with things and will probably be the main catalyst for Filly 'breaking out of that mindset'.

    Thank you for the help.
     
  4. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Those sound like very good starting points. I was musing, imagining Filly in church listening to a sermon on immorality and lust, and wanting to discretely vanish under the pew...

    The aunt sounds like just what she needs
     
  5. Sapphire at Dawn
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    Sapphire at Dawn Member

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    This is exactly what I imagined when I was in the church yesterday. Either that or a stained glass window depicting the lustful in hell. Or both.

    Good to know I'm on the right track. Thanks for taking the time to reply.
     

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