Tag Archives: national geographic

Character Focus: Alice

In December, I have a month long review planned of all the books I’ve read this year. But until then, I have about four posts to entertain you with and I thought I would spend some time introducing you to the main characters of my WIP: The Abassi Expedition.

If you read my Next Big Thing Blog Hop post, you got to know a little about my WIP and how it came to be. Today, however, I’d like to spend some more time on Alice. I won’t be able to give too, too much away without ruining the whole story but I can give you a character sketch and tell you how I developed her.

Originally, I was working on some lesson plans to get students writing and revising stories with examples. So, to do this, I had to write my own story.

As is the way with all of my stories, I just get an idea, an image in my head. The basic idea was a steampunk story about a young woman hanging out in her father’s shop when a young man shows up to recruit her into the Queen’s army. So I started writing. I don’t have an original version, so this is a bit revised, but it’s the still the beginning of my original idea.

Water pooled in the cracks between the cobblestones and even they seemed to shiver from the cold. Ripples broke across the puddles from the rain, hard and unforgiving, as it crashed down. A small crack of thunder brought on a harder onslaught.

Alice read in a chair at the front of her father’s clock shop. She could do no work in weather like this. Noises drifted forward from her father’s bench as he tinkered with another invention. The pings and taps accompanied the drawn out sighs of the chorus of rain.

After I created this original story, I started to develop Alice a little. First, I made a character sketch that’s a bit pompous because I was trying very, very hard to describe her without plain words or cliches. Here is the first character sketch I did of Alice:

Her hair, the color of freshly brewed black tea, curls like fresh apple peels. She stands no taller or shorter than any other girl her age. Her fair skin seems to always be blooming like magic roses. She doesn’t look like the merchants’ daughters, frail as twigs, or the bakers’ who were always plump, but as if she ate heartily and exercised happily—so she was neither plump nor thin. She seems to always have a sniffle and her eyes water quite easily. When she works, she hums a favorite tune from a recent concerto or symphony.

After I created her, I used Jeff Gerke’s Character Versus Plot to pick her personality traits to make sure her character was realistical. Alice is INTJ, Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging.

Then I needed to develop my story from one scene to a plot for a novel. I wanted to write a story of exploration but I wanted to have the freedom to play with everything, so I put it on another planet, Kepler. Another thing I had to do was to pick a plot and some arcs for Alice. So, her story is that of coming-of-age, her arcs are about finding herself, mentally, emotionally, physically.

After talking with my good friend, Sabrina A Fish, about Alice, Kepler, and the human colony of New London, I decided to make some changes for my cast. So, first I started changing their races and therefore their background stories. One, in particular, Alice changed a lot. She went from a normal, white girl to a half-Arabic girl. I didn’t just change her race for the hell of it, it shifted for her the story too.

Part of my inspiration for the shift in Alice, came from this iconic picture:

Recently, some of my amazingly talented students agreed to do some actual sketches of my characters so I created some descriptions for them. Here’s the updated sketch:

Alice Hadley is 16. She’s half-Arabic, she has long, dark, curly hair but bright green eyes. She is unsure of herself. She typically wears knee high boots, breeches, a white/tan shirt, and a corset all covered in grease because she’s an engineer and always working on one thing or another. She’s average height and build. She’s very shy and unsure of herself.

So far, I have tried to let all of this information affect me in an organic way–it’s in my mind but I don’t obsess over it as I write. It will, however, affect my re-writes. I plan to go through my first draft and think about Alice and all of the decisions she makes. When creating, you can’t let yourself obsess over the minutia because then your characters won’t grow as they were meant to.

Here are some pictures of steampunk outfits that kind of match what I imagine Alice to wear. Keep in mind that they are just outfits, not her. That will come when my students get back to me.

Don’t forget to check back for Reblog Wednesday and Friday is my character focus on William!