In my upcoming book, WWIV - In the Beginning, you will see life through the eyes of my protagonist Bill Carlson.
First things first, I am NOT Bill Carlson. And Bill Carlson is NOT based on me or my life. Bill does happen to live in the same city as me, Woodbury (MN), but that's really where any similarities end.
Bill is a happy optimistic fellow. He's 38, the same age as his wife Sharon. Bill and Sharon have been married for ten years. Their marriage is at a so-so point, something people run into after this amount of time together.
They have two children, a girl aged 8 and a boy, 6. Bill loves his family very much. He truly loves his wife and children with all of his heart, all of his soul and all of his mind. They are his everything. And as you will discover in the first pages of my novel, they are not with him when beginning occurs.
Bill is about 6-0 tall and weighs around 185 pounds. He's not in great shape, but he keeps in good shape. He has shorter brown hair, with regular brown eyes. Somewhat of the typical Scandinavian features found in the upper-midwest. His birth date is September 29th.
Now that's a lot of boring descriptive detail about Bill. How about some meats and potatoes about him?
You'll like Bill. He's everyones best friend. He's the neighbor that mows your lawn when you're gone on vacation (without ever asking him, you just know he will), he'll help you shovel your driveway when the plow leaves 6 feet of road snot at the end. If you need $20 until payday, Bill's your man. And he'll never ask for repayment if you forget to hit him back.
Bill works hard five days a week as a school physiologist. He loves his job and the people he works with. He loves the kids he serves and wouldn't want to be doing anything else with his career. When not working, he likes to take long rides on his mountain bike to keep in shape. Well, when he's not running his kids here and there; soccer practice, t-ball games, choir concerts, church. You know the guy. He has no apparent flaws.
Or does he?
Yeah, one big one. Especially when humanity decides to take a holiday.
Bill is an eternal optimist. A non-ending, never wavering, blind to the real world optimist. And he has no intention of giving that optimism up. EVER!
Now, where is this all leading. Well, let me tell you.
Bill, while sounding like everyones friend, everyones next door neighbor, just like that perfect guy at work, is completely fictional. He's completely made up – by me. He's a figment of my imagination.
Before I ever wrote a word in this novel, I painstakingly thought through every detail of Bill's life. All of his physical characteristics, all of his mental attributes, even his dog's name, his parent's names, his wife's parents' names...everything.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not bragging. I'm just following a pattern that writers have employed for years, decades, centuries. If you know your characters, both inside and out, you'll have everything you need at your fingertips for whatever scene may arise. I guess that's how it's done. Seems to work okay for me.
Last week, I completed my fifth manuscript. And before I ever began that manuscript I spent a week going through the five or six individuals that would be featured in the book. Now the other night I started the process anew with my sixth manuscript. And just like the five before, I started with the characters.
You see, I've learned something in this process. It's your characters that drive the story. They take you places you never expected to go, even the author. Some authors will tell you the plot drives their story; not me. I'm sometimes shocked at the twists and turns in my tales; all because a certain character takes me there.
Until next time, keep reading. Pick up a classic and give it a try!