Character Development – an exercise (or exorcism)

I am ashamed to admit I have been working on a novel for years.  I have added to it in agonized rage and untended desire and fanatical fire over time.  It haunts me when I put it away for too long.

During this pandemic (although I am still working), I am taking an online writing course to fill my new-found spare time.  My current module focuses on the need for an in-depth character profile.  I created the physical and “typical” profile years ago but it does not fill in the gaps that lend to complete character development.

I decided to have a “discussion” with my three main characters about their First Loves.  I am sharing in hopes that it motivates me to continue — with not only the online writing class but with the novel.  Thank you for indulging me.

First Love —

Genesee —

My first true love was reading.  Imaginary friends quickly bored me as they never disagreed or debated with me.  But a book not only taught me new words and showed me differing perspectives, it allowed me to travel the world without leaving home.  Books taught me about affection, something that was not abundant at my home.  It taught me social dynamics and allowed me to observe people without putting myself in danger. 

Yes, I know. You mean my first love for a boy.  It’s hard to say as it seemed back then that I fell in and out of love daily.  I had an intense infatuation (obsession) for a sweet country boy.  He was colorblind and had a funny name but hearing his three-wheeler roar by my house made me giddy with possibility.   

(She pauses and looks down at her hands)  But it was Devin in tenth grade that taught me about unconditional love.  A love so strong there is no name for it and no book ever prepared me for its power.  

Devin —  

Not a very fair question since I have no memory of my childhood or teen years. I know that I have dreams with faces of girls I do not recognize but they seem all too familiar — as in my body reacts to the images, but my mind cannot form a connection.  

Since my accident?  (Smiles mischievously and winks at me)  Ask me after we have dinner tonight?  He laughs when I roll my eyes.  He hesitates for a moment and then solemnly answers.   I have been with a few or many women since then.  And there have been intense attractions, great sex and moments of soulful intimacy but not what I call “love”.  I’m still waiting to find out if that actually exists … for me, at least.  

Isaac —

His jaw sets almost in anger and his eyes narrow.  I begin to regret asking as I know that I have soured his mood and I won’t even get the courtesy of an answer.  

His voice is soft although his features remain hardened as he breathes out, “Danielle. Danielle was my first love.  She was my first best friend.  She was my first lover.  She was my first and only heartbreak as I’ve never allowed myself to love another.  

He stands up abruptly and stalks to the window, looking out at the ocean.  “Next question,” he demands.  



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