Characters & Plot | 16 June 2014

I wanted to work on writing / editing a particular story. But as I was getting it ready (i.e. transferring the relevant documents to where I needed them), the process opened up a bottle of contemplation and confusion.

The rest of this may not make sense to anyone, but if you’re still curious, feel free to read on.

Six years ago I was strongly inspired to write a story about a romantic love that could transcend time and would rely on very conventional heroic traditions — battling monsters and/or giants, slaying beasts, obtaining unusual items to win a bride.

Aside from the initial impetus, the two stories that probably played the largest role in shaping the story’s raw mold were: the Ramayana and The Adventures of Sayf Ben Dhi Yazan.

Consequently, the earliest thing I knew about the story was that it would have two leads – a man and woman who would be in love, but be separated.  Ignoring the heteronormativity for the moment, the problem is that I invented (created?) at least four variants for each one.

The man:

  1. some guy (maybe a Prince?), b. 23 Nov “2009”, brave, bold, dramatic, melancholy, teasing
    1. Story: must go off and acquire 3 magical and hard to find items to prove his worthiness to marry the woman he loves (this may also be the plot of #3)
  2. Prince, b. 18 June “1996”,  fun, silly, dutiful, friendly toward (good) demons, strong
    1. Story: … (I know it might  involve looking for someone and the possible summoning of the dead)
  3. Prince, b. 6 Jan “1993”, noble, silly, sly, stubborn, self-righteous, brave, good-hearted, emotional, heroic
    1. Story: … (may have to prove something???)
  4. Prince of Jerom, b. 13 Hibam 18 A.R., brave, teasing, tactless, noble, silly, likes to tinker and built stuff, gets enraged when loved ones are threatened, dark brown eyes, smooth straight black hair
    1. Story: must find at least 3 magical items so as to be able to find his fiancée, obtains allies and overcomes various obstacles and monsters along the way

As you can tell, #4 is the only one that’s been developed enough to have a concrete birthday and slightly more details in his description. Also I know where he goes, what he encounters, who he meets, and (loosely) what items he has to get. The other three are vaguer, especially #1 and #3 who may actually be the same idea. And I’m not sure either one qualifies as a character, other than steps in character development.

In the earliest outline there were actually two reasons why the man has to go off and do heroic things (fighting monsters and such). In one, it was because he had to go to war and that’s why they were separated. This wasn’t developed very far. In the other,  his parents were against the marriage because they didn’t approve of the woman (this correlates to man #3). But apparently both these plots have been abandoned, except for the has-to-go-on-a-search-and-fight-monsters-and-get-magical-items bit.

The woman:

  1. not-a-Princess, b. 11 March “2010”, sweet, sensible, strict, loving, faithful
    1. Story: a middle-sibling princess (?) forms a deep instantaneous bond with another, slowly fall in love but parents won’t allow marriage, loved one has to go on a quest to prove worthiness
  2. Princess, b. 20 Dec “1998”, spontaneous, desire to be free, self-conscious, cold
    1. Story: … (some inspiration from Sīta — born out of nature, seen as blessed by fortune, possibly kidnapped but not by a demon, although there might be demons in it)
    2. I feel uncomfortable putting this character here based on certain body-based feelings the character has expressed
  3. Princess?, b. 21 Aug “1993”, steadfast, sweet, playful, pious, loyal, smart, family-loving, willful, generous, poised, beautiful
    1. Story: …  (like man #1, I really don’t know)
  4. not-a-Princess, b. 12 Ramin I 19 A.R., sweet, sensible, taunting, loving, faithful, likes painting, terrible cook, well-traveled, grey eyes, black wavy hair, brown olive skin?
    1. Story: must discover a way to return home after ending up on demon islands which are hard to get to and to leave, amounts to a spiritual-styled quest with mythical creatures and spiritually cultivated jewels, influenced by Sufism

She’s a little different than him, insofar as each of her variants were, technically, named and had backstory (parents, siblings, personality). The trouble was that each one felt like a stand-alone variant. But I have a hard time trying to chronology describe the jump from one to the other. Maybe it doesn’t matter? I do know that initially she was supposed to be a princess but that changed into her not being one. Also, at some point she had siblings, then she didn’t, and in the #4 she has stepsisters.

What’s odd is that the most developed variant (#4) completely disregards the initial idea of the character. Namely, that she would be

a single-child princess much sought after for her renowned beauty with a strong loving relationship with her parents or father and who is kidnapped by a male antagonist who wants to marry her who she must resist through her willpower

I’m not really sure what I’m trying to uncover or sort out through all this.

Clearly I had an idea — a love that overcomes time and involves separation of two people in romantic love. The original outline had war and obstinate parents as the cause of separation and conflict. And when developing the two central characters, they each went through various stages. But where the man developed traits I hadn’t expected (tinkering) which deviated from the initial characterization, the woman developed a backstory that was deviant from the initial characterization.

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