Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Missing Link...

No, were not talking about the mythical upright walking ape like creature who may or may not have existed between our evolution from ape to man - were talking about background of characters never before released to the public.



I call it the missing link because its usually information that's hidden, that's difficult to get out without performing the dreaded information dump and yet usually vital to why a character does what they do. I think for any major character you have to know these things whether you voice it or not.



For Example:



Danielle Laidlaw (Recurring Main Character in Black Rain and Black Sun):



Hyper competitive because she was raised mostly by her father who really wanted a son. So they did "guy" things when she was young; sports, working on cars, shooting guns. But then when she became a teenager a rift developed between them and she tried to win his love back by succeeding even more. Finally he fell ill while she was in college and when she came home to help he considered her a "quitter" for leaving school. He died shortly afterward and Danielle had been trying -consciously or unconsciously - to prove she's not a quitter ever since.


Chen Li Kang (Villain in Black Sun):

Kang is a Chinese Billionaire who came up from the streets. A former gangster who slowly took control of many legitimate businesses and has now mostly distanced himself from the criminal world. In his 60's, Kang is now dying. He has been struck by a rare degenerative nerve disorder that combines the symptoms of several other diseases. In his efforts to fight off the disease he has exhausted the options of modern medicine. But he becomes aware of a Russian experiment on a young boy who had the same disease which seemed to stop and partially reverse the progression of the disease. He decides he must capture this child and learn the truth behind this top secret experiment. It leads him into a world of energy generating crystals and fears of doomsday and a 2012 apocalypse but all Kang cares about is finding the truth to save himself.

In these instances both Danielle and Kang have firm backgrounds and operating principles. They follow them throughout the story. Danielle - after being captured by Kang and being rescued is given a chance to beg off the mission - despite wanting to take it, despite it being rational that she might do so - Danielle follows her operating principle: she's not a quitter and so she goes on to see the mission through.

Kang, who has grown up on the street knows only force, only that you get what you take. Needing the crystals that Danielle and the NRI are searching for he operates from the position of the predator stalking the prey - because that is what he knows and who he is.

The irony of this for me is that the main character Hawker has a less well known background - much of his history has been blacked out by the CIA and thus it is...blacked out to the reader. While some of it comes through in dialogue or flashbacks most of it is hidden and it leaves me with a situation that is both positive and negative. To some extent the reader and the other characters are often unsure exactly how he will react. On the other hand he is the hero so he must save the day in a fashion. Perhaps in the next book we'll learn more about him - but so far it has been fun to keep it hidden.

Till next time,

Graham

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