I promised i’d write more about how i construct my own work and so i thought doing this would be a good idea. It was inspired by an article i read on how they developed the Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT. As with any good piece of fiction, you need good characters but they don’t just come from nowhere… So this is an article on how some of my own characters developed and evolved.
Will… the hero of Dark Legend and the media crowned ‘legend’ of the stories title. The thing about all characters is that they take a while to form properly… and Will was certainly no exception. In fact… when i started he wasn’t even called Will (He was called Alex… and Alex was Will if you must know.) and he wasn’t the reluctant media celebrity that he became. As a character, Will is arrogant, cocky and determined… He’s tough, He doesn’t trust people readily and he doesn’t suffer fools even though he can be the biggest idiot in the room sometimes… But he wasn’t always that way. In fact, looking at the first draft of episode 1 he’s more than a bit pompous and full of himself as well… a direct contrast to the way in which he’s incredibly humble these days and refutes his ‘legend’ status frequently as though what he does is nothing. In this first draft there was almost no animosity between him and the other characters… the first scene with Randy for instance they just shook hands and became instant friends… In later drafts this never happened. Will is now far more dismissive of Randy and the others and just either tries to ignore them or beat them up. As Joe later remarks in ‘Scumbags’ at this point Will is a bit of a prick. He wasn’t a prick in the first draft. Originally he dressed a bit like a council estate skinhead as well… but this was changed by the time i got to episode 3 and slowly his appearance began to take on a more practical approach untill he became what you see today… almost normal, but practical. There is a lot more to Will but i can’t say much more without giving most of the story away.
Mechanic to the Morfasson family, Marc Bolan lookalike and best friend of Otto. Thing is… when i first imagined Carver i didn’t really envisage him having a very big part in the story. He was just there to be a mechanic and that was it… but once i got a little way in i realized that Otto needed some sort of foil, someone to bounce off… a friend if you will. So, gradually i developed a back story involving his father being a smuggler/fisherman and how he’d been left with the Morfassons… the most recent evolution of this backstory is a natural extension which wasn’t in the first draft where we learn how he went from just being left to dodging school and hiding out with another mechanic by the name of ‘Old Crusty.’ Eventually Carver developed into a kind of opposite to Otto… Sort of an Anti-Punk ‘good guy’ if you like… towards the end he gets a girlfriend and becomes ‘CJ’ in one of those sickening ‘smoosh smoosh’ romances… which is exactly the opposite of every other romance in the book. It’s a contrast that wasn’t there to begin with. And this goes on such as when he feels ‘ill’ upon arriving in New York for the first time and seeing all the skyscrapers and the huge buildings whereas Otto just takes it in his stride.
Charlie is one of the oldest characters in my cannon… not in terms of physical age but in terms of how long ago they were first created. He first appeared in what eventually became the first Morfasson Saga novel… back when it had very little to do with the Morfasson’s at all. He started out life as a journalist imprisoned in some weird wooden fortress (like something out of a medieval fantasy) and he only turned up half way through the book… just all the other characters up to that point were virtually dead/about to die. I initially got the idea for Charlie from Abbe Faria in the Count of Monte Cristo. He was there to act as a fellow ‘inmate’ to another character. He still has all these traits… only the Fortress is now a more solid construction and quite a bit further south and more isolated. It also makes more sense in the context of the book. Gradually Charlie became the focus of that first book and now it is essentially his story. The Morfasson’s have a much heavier involvement as well. Over time Charlie has developed a family of his own. He has a wife, a son (and it’s hinted at later that he has a Grandson!) I’ve now started rewriting that first book and Charlie has become the narrator of the first half… He’s no longer a journalist and that first half of the book is almost entirely new material concerning his background and how he ended up in the prison. I’ll be taking you through the writing of this book myself so no need to worry about this too much.
(Morfasson Saga: Heritage Wars)
The story of Marcus is basically the story of the Morfasson Saga and how it came together. The first book was already in existence by this point… and looking at it now i realize it was the biggest piece of trash ever written that made very little sense. (Don’t worry… it’s being rewritten from scratch.) Marcus wasn’t even related to that book in anyway shape or form. His story was an entirely separate one involving… something else. (Sorry… i don’t want to say as his origin is one of my ‘depth things’… but there is a big clue if you can work it out!) Basically if you work that out it becomes quite frankly obvious where he came from. This aspect was completely ditched when Marco’s story (He gained the familiar form at a later date…) became intertwined with what would become The actual Saga. For a time his story was essentially part 2 of the saga but it’s now once again a story in its own right… it’s more realistic that way. (The updated story came about whilst i was bored in a seminar…) It ties in a little with the original story idea but not a lot. In the beginning he never really had a personality of his own either and for ages he lived in the rest of his families shadow… I’d sidelined him in favour of everyone else. but that’s starting to change. He’s becoming this kind of nerdy, sly, anti-hero type character.. and his story is fast turning into The Avengers + Time Team + Die Hard…If that makes sense.
(Morfasson Saga, Rebels)
Since i created him Harry has aged in dog years… roughly… He’s gone from being an annoying kid left behind in some god forsaken greasy spoon through to a gangly teenage dunce and finally to a terrible parent. (Seriously… when you read Rebels you’ll see what a terrible parent he really is.) As such, Harry’s character is one of the most well rounded i’ve got. He started out after i figured i needed some way to expand the whole idea of the Morfassons and to have at least one of them to serve as a ‘main character’ for much of the first half before switching to Marcus. So he was born at the very end of the first book and left behind in a greasy spoon. His parentage was ambiguous at first (his father COULD have been Charlie Fuller…) and this is why he looks a little bit different to the rest of his family… he has a different mother anyway so i just explained it away through that. For some reason Harry seems to get it a bit a rougher than any other characters… his entire life appears to be one string of disasters after another… i’d consider stopping and letting him have it easy but where would be the fun in that?
Zacra started out as a maniacal villain in a short lived Dark Legend spin-off involving time travel. His name comes from the fact that i wanted his name to sound really evil. The idea was that he was a friend of Will’s who got left behind when the Graffe took over the world, somehow survived, went mad and invented some sort of time grabbing device… don’t ask. The idea of him stuck around though and i decided to incorporate him into my rapidly expanding universe, becoming my first character who wasn’t a priest or a vicar or the Pope to openly practice religion… (He’s Jewish). I kept the idea that he was a friend of Will and that he was some sort of tech whizz and from there incorporated him into the story. Over the years his role has expanded somewhat and he’s now an integral part of the back story… Not saying any more though ;p