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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Josh and Seth's Big Adventure

One of the best things about starting a new novel (writing or reading) is getting to know the characters. Even if you are the writer of the novel (the "god" of your fictional universe), you still get to learn about your characters as you go and they still surprise you and take the story in directions you hadn't imagined.

There are two main characters in the novel I'm working on for NaNoWriMo: Seth, a zoologist, is the main character, and Josh, a photographer, is his sidekick. The two have been friends since grade school, even though they are as different as night and day. Seth is the mature one: steady, reliable, responsible; while Josh is the fun one. I have to be careful that Josh doesn't take over this novel and make it all about him (notice how he wiggled in to get top billing in the post title?).

Besides their friendship, Seth and Josh share a love of cryptozoology, the science and study of strange (often legendary) creatures; they've both been fascinated with it since they were kids. Josh jumps into it with his usual boisterousness, Seth with more reserve.

They have different goals for their little hobby. Seth wants to be taken seriously. He would be searching the Amazon jungle for new animal species if he had the means, because that's how he'd really like to validate himself as a scientist. But since he works for a small agricultural college, he doesn't have the means of trekking through the Amazon rain forest or Papua New Guinea. He has to use what's at his disposal, and his best shot at discovering something new is to seek out the legends of America (in a discreet, non-embarrassing manner; kept very low key until they actually discover something; IF they discover something).

Josh, on the other hand, isn't embarrassed at all by their little hobby. He took over his dead father's photography studio and spends his days shooting bland studio portraits, being thrown up on by babies and cried on by brides. The worst are the portraits of pets in costumes; he despises the shoots with pets in costumes. So he lives for the little adventures their hobby brings. And someday, they are going to actually find something, and Josh is going to have his picture in the New York Times: one arm around Bigfoot, the other around six adoring supermodels. He just knows it!

As the writer, I get to spend every day "watching" these two characters interact, "watch" them chasing their hopes and dreams. And I get to think of obstacles to throw in their way, and then "watch" like a proud parent as they overcome those obstacles.

Writing is the best job ever!

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