Personality Emerges Part 1–Discovering more about our point of view character

I am super excited about this week because characters are one of my very favorite parts of a story. I love giving life to different people, and even if I hate a bad guy, I have a lot of fun figuring out how to make him or her worthy of that loathing.

So, this week we are going to learn a bit about our Point of View (POV) character, meaning the character who’s perspective the story is told from. I was going to do most of the main characters, but there was enough about Markin that I am going to let him have his very own week. Next week we will dive into the other characters. There is probably a lot about Markin I don’t have here. There is a lot I haven’t learned yet. After all, I really haven’t known Markin for very long. Like real people, characters take a very long time to know really well. In fact, I am still learning things about characters I started writing about over seven years ago. Here is what I do know so far.

 

We already know a bit about Markin. He is part of the elite special ops division of the Aviandrian military, so he has some really specialized skills. Particularly, he is trained in espionage and undercover operations. Part of what makes him ideal for this is the fact that he has nothing particularly special about his appearance to set him apart. He is probably in his mid to late twenties, but he has one of those faces that make it difficult to guess his age. His hair is a very ordinary brown, and his eyes are a gentle green, sometimes almost blue, but they aren’t a vivid enough color to stand out. He is average in height, average in weight, and it would be difficult to find anything that would really set him apart from an average crowd. In other words, he is very much your ideal gray man. The one thing that may attract attention would be the fact that he is an Elf, but Elves are common enough in Aviandria, most people don’t think much of it. His Elven senses more than compensate for what trouble it would give him as far as blending in.

One of the things that makes Markin so interesting to me is his back story. Markin spent his early years in a small village in the southern half of Aviandria. When he was about nine or ten, his village was targeted by a group of soldiers sent by the niece of the king as part of her plan to take over the kingdom. As far as Markin was aware, everybody in his village was killed but him (which wasn’t quite the case. There was one other survivor, but they didn’t know about each other. In order to read more about that, you can check out the story I post a chapter of every Friday here). He only escaped because he was searching for a hog that had run away. He didn’t even realize the village was under attack until he smelled the smoke and returned to see the entire thing in flames. He ran before any of the soldiers saw him, and he didn’t stop for most of the day. Eventually he was found by some travelers who helped him get to a town in Aviandria where he was more or less adopted by an older couple who wanted somebody to help them run their tanning business. Markin hated the work, but he had nowhere else to go. As one might imagine, Markin had a strong distrust and fear of soldiers for quite a while, but one soldier in the town managed to gain his trust through kindness and befriended him. Markin began to see that not all soldiers were like the ones who had destroyed his village. As he got older, he began to develop a great interest in the military, and with the encouragement of his soldier friend, he traveled to Accipitridaelynn to enlist as soon as he was old enough. He showed incredible talent in many areas, and was offered a place in the elite special operations division of the Aviandrian army.

Because of his experience early on with soldiers, he was determined to became the antithesis of the soldiers who burned and destroyed his village. He tries to help and save lives whenever possible, and will only take a life to defend the lives of others, and only if there is no other choice. Because of the intense lifestyle he lives, he has never pursued any romantic interests. It isn’t really because he has no desire for such things, but he doesn’t feel it would be fair to a girl to expect her to have to wait for him on all his dangerous missions where the chance of never coming back is relatively high. He also is somewhat afraid of creating many real attachments, probably due to losing everybody he loved as a child.

There are loads of character interview questions and worksheets I could sit and fill out for Markin, but I feel that those paragraphs give me a pretty decent idea of what he is like and how he would react to many situations. I don’t have to know every character perfectly before I start writing. I usually get to know them better by spending time with them in the story. After all, if you want to get to know a person, do you sit down and grill them about every detail of their life and personality and refuse to do anything else with them until they give you the answer to all their most personal information, or do you spend time with them and learn new things about them as you go? In my experience, the latter works much better. And so it is with characters. Sometimes you don’t know what they are going to do until you actually see them in that situation.

So, next week we will learn more about the other main characters. Most of them probably won’t have as many details as Markin, but you never know. I guess we’ll see.

What things do you like to know about a character you are either writing or reading about? What details have I left out that you are wondering about?

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