Character Building

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls, the most massive characters are seared with scars. “

Khalil Gibran

How do you create riveting characters?

Nobody wants to read  a story with flat Stanley.   No author wants to write with flat Stanley.  We want fully developed characters that convey the movie playing inside our heads.  We want the world to meet our imaginary friends and love or hate them  the same as we do.

Sometimes,  we like to play devil’s advocate and see if the audience ” gets it” with a character.  It’s simple to write the typical weasel,  the lovable innocent, the  dashing cad that you want to  get his come uppance.  But  how do you  show the tormented soul without being cliche’? How do you show the dark haunted  individual and  keep the audience guessing as to whether he’s good or evil?  Has he gone to the dark side?  Was he always dark?  Or does he appear to be evil but in the end he saves the day?

Allow me to introduce you to one of my scarred souls. Her  birth  name was Hopshetut, daughter of the Pharoah.  Born into privilege, power, and position  it wasn’t enough for Hapshetsut. The life of a woman in 1050 BC came with  certain aspects that she found distasteful.  Her tale is  of woe and disturbing  events.

The only woman Pharoah that Egypt has ever known, disgracing her lineage to the point that her images were scratched from every   place in Egypt. Mystery surrounded the life of the real Hapshetsut.  In her quest for power and immortality she  was entombed alive and leaves behind an empty grave-site.

I found the whole  “mystery” aspect intriguing and well, I just couldn’t leave it alone.  While watching The Mummy with my family,  my mind began to wander  as my National Geographic magazine lay open beside me.  My eyes wandered,  the TV, the magazine.  I’d seen the movie before.  The magazine won.

My version may be a little more fanciful, but it’s not as far fetched as the Loch Ness monster, or Sasquatch!  I was asked what authors  influenced me as many writers  have been.    How do you acknowledge the writer’s of  TV shows you grew up with when you didn’t learn the writer’s names?

The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery, Creature From the Black Lagoon  – is it any wonder I’m as whack as I am?  Thrills and chills, goose bumps, things that go bump in the night all influenced my morbid sense of curiosity to play what-if.

Hapshetsut has taken on  flesh in such a rapid manner,   it was like she whispered it in my ear on the night wind.

This is a rendition that a friend has done for me  for Hapshetsut:

I think he has captured my character there.  Of course, based on the information I gave him, he has done exceptional.

Care for a little taste?

Here’s just a brief  excerpt from chapter one:

Tonight was a banquet.  There were camel trains loaded with gifts, and tithes for the Pharaoh. The annual tribute feast wasn’t for two more moons. Yet she was to be present at her Father’s side. At least she wasn’t sent in with the harem. At these things she was always allowed to present herself as the proper princess.

In another portion of the palace Thutmose II stood arms akimbo, as his servants draped his shendyt over his loins. He stood while the harem girls bathed and dried him. He stood while his servants dressed him. He took great pride in his physical appearance. He sat on his stone bench while Akshermunset the preistess painted his eye makeup. He had long desired her. She trained at the tutors when he was a child, now she was the preistess. She was not considered a commoner and he wanted to ask his father if she could be his queen when he ruled now that he ws next in line for the throne. He dreaded these gala affairs. The only good thing was that when it was over he’d have at least three of the harem beauties in his quarters and have his fill of wine.

Just as Kirsis had finished applying thick black eyeliner to Hopshetsut’s eyes Matia came to the open doorway bowing low. “It is time Princess Hopshetsut.”

It was at times like these she felt she was where she belonged. She held a regal sense of power. Shed seen plenty of the s ancient papyrus; she knew what she had to do to get the power. It was a small price to pay, but blood offered to one of the gods would bring them to the temple. She would arrange the meeting with Senmut.

She walked to the grand plaza, head held high. She would enjoy this night, and make certain her father and brother were both too drunk to request her company. With a smug grin she entered the plaza and approached the throne, bowing before her father who motioned her to stand at his left.

Nubian dancers performed a tribal dance in Pharoah’s honor. Moabite warriors did a sword display then bowed before Pharaoh. Then Pharaoh rose to make his edicts and announcements. This got Hopshetsut’s attention because her father was a wise ruler, and now she would learn the reason for this banquet.

Everyone quieted when the Pharaoh rose. He walked to the Dias, where his throne sat to make his announcements. “Last month, Osiris claimed my sons for her own. Osiris was greedy last month. She took many of your children as well.” He walked behind the queen’s throne. Caressing his hand down her arm. It has been a hard time for all of us. In the grip of grief I have been forced to make decisions that affect the future of Egypt after Osiris has called me to the other side.” He paced, hands clasped behind his back, a stern expression.

“The period for grieving is over as today I have decided for the future of the great nation of Egypt. My remaining heirs, Thutmose II and Hopshetsut” He summoned them to rise and come to his side. “Thutmose II has learned a great deal in military tactics. He has returned to me a man in his own right.”

Hopshetsut didn’t for a second buy the speech. She knew better than anyone what a simpleton her brother really was. But she wasn’t about to interrupt the Pharaoh. She walked to his left side as was the custom, bowing her knee to her father, to her Pharaoh.

Thutmose II wasn’t as gracious, or mindful of protocol. He walked towards his father face on and stood to his right, clasping his father’s hand without a bow, without a nod. Hopshetsut didn’t miss the sudden clenching of their father’s jaw.

“Hopshetsut has been schooled alongside her brother in all matters. She has always been the best scholar and the most studious. Her mind is as sharp as our Captain of the Guard.” He lifted his daughter’s hand to his lips to plant a kiss.

This can’t be good. As he raised her hand for a kiss, she saw the glare in her brother’s eyes and played it up, bowing her head demurely as her father’s lips touched her knuckles. What came next shocked her to her absolute core. In a thousand years she hadn’t expected this humiliating blow.

“Thutmose II, my son shall be named Pharaoh of Egypt when Osiris has called me to the beyond, AND my daughter Hopshetsut shall reign as Queen of Egypt by his side. The two together shall bring our great land into a new era. A greater land than it is today.”

She didn’t know who was floored more, herself or her halfwit brother. After father announced it she thought ‘of course’. Thutmose II would never be allowed to rule alone, and a woman was never to be Pharaoh. Her brother’s blood wasn’t pure, and his hands were bound to hand over the throne to any female. She forced a fake smile on her face. She knew how to play the game. Unlike her dimwit brother, she accepted fate. At least until she could change it.

Well, now I feel I need to go dabble with the Queen of the Fae for her part of this story.

TTFN, and write on my friends – write on!


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