Category Archives: characters

Sci-Fi Characters

I have slowed down on revamping Aeroquest.  You may have noticed, I did not spit out the next Canto yesterday.  But I am still noodling around with the characters and the story.  I took as my model the short chapters and many characters of Frank Herbert’s Dune series.  And since it was intended as a comedy novel along the lines of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it has a lot of ridiculous things in it that subvert the plot and the many subplots.

The story is salvageable.  But I will have to do some very big changes.  I need to streamline the plot.  I need to cut out unnecessary characters.  And I need to give more extensive development and stage time to the characters I keep.

So here is an insight into critical characters and who they are.

The Aero Brothers are the two main characters who give the book its name.  They were not created by me, but, rather, by one of the high school boys who played the science fiction RPG Traveller with me back in 1985.  He created both characters loosely based on Han Solo from Star Wars.  Ham was a hotshot space pilot.  Ged was a rogue hunter who developed the psionic power of changing his shape.  He was so powerful that he could use this mind power to change not only his size and shape but also his species.  The boy who created these characters was a natural born leader even though he was small for his age and often taken for granted by his fellow players in the game.  So these characters both reflect his real-life personality.

Trav Dalgoda, known as “Goofy” for his weird obsessions (like the eyepatch he doesn’t actually need), is a clown character who is constantly driven by his worst impulses to move the plot forward.  He doesn’t mean to betray anybody on purpose, but he is obsessed with treasure hunting and watching things blow up.  He can’t help causing massive destruction on planetary scales.  Tron Blastarr, the scar-faced space pirate, is a bad guy turned hero who is often on the wrong end of Goofy’s plot-moving missteps.  He ends up deciding that instead of merely being a pirate leader, he needs to lead a rebellion and form a new interstellar government.

These four are the most important characters in the entire story.  I cannot rewrite it without any of them.  All four of them are based on real people who played the science fiction role-playing game with me in the 80’s.  I will tell you more about Aeroquest characters in future posts.

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Filed under aliens, characters, humor, novel, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, science fiction

Characters in Colored Pencil

As a novelist, certain characters, as I understand them, have to be portrayed in a certain specific way.  It may be because the character is based on a real person, so those characteristics are tied to reality and changing them will impair the character’s realism.  It may also be because the character has a very special function in the story, possibly a metaphorical or thematic function so a change in those particulars can derail the entire story.  But portraying them in colored pencil is not nearly so arcane.  Colored pencil is my own preferred medium, the one I know best how to use as an artist.

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Snow Babies

These characters are not specifically people.  They are created in nature when a person dies in a blizzard by freezing to death.  They act like banshees in that they serve both as omens of impending death, and collectors of the spirit forms of the deceased.  Snow ghosts after a manner of speaking.

They are from my novel Snow Babies and give the book its name.  Of course, they are not the only snow babies that the title refers to.  But they are essential to the basic theme of the story.

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Brent Clarke

Brent is the leader of the Pirates.  He appears in the novels Superchicken, and The Baby Werewolf, though I have another couple of stories in my head where he plays an important role as well.

Brent is an amalgam of two real people.  One was a boy from my boyhood gang, and the other was a student I taught more than a decade after that.  He is a farm boy, naturally outgoing and athletic, but also a bit of a bully and a bigger bit of a jerk, especially around girls.

 

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Miss Francis “Franny” Morgan

Miss Morgan is a middle school teacher based on a real-life colleague who had a gift for reaching and teaching challenging kids, though she’s also got a bit of me in her since the major challenges she faces in the story are mostly things that happened to me, and I made her an English teacher like me instead of the Science teacher she really was.  She is the main character in the novel that bears her name, Magical Miss Morgan.  She is also a minor character in Superchicken, almost twenty years earlier in time.  I pictured her wearing a purple paisley dress to represent her magical abilities.  That magic is, of course, the ability to make stories come to life through imagination and creativity.

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Sean “Cudgel” Murphy

Cudgel is “Grampy” of the Murphy Clan, living in the home of his eldest son Warren.  He is basically a clown character, being an irascible, evil old man who loves his family, only ever drives his beloved Austin Hereford motor car (“the best goddam car in the whole goddam world from 1954”), and will fight for any reason or excuse at the drop of a hat.

He has already played a role in the novels The Bicycle-Wheel Genius and Snow Babies.  And I hope to use him in several more.  He is loosely based on several old men I have known throughout my life, but he functions mainly as a clown, a comic relief character that breaks up the tension in developing plots.

So there you have some characters that I have written about in my novels and illustrated in living colored pencil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under characters, colored pencil, humor, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Character References, Part 3

When choosing who’s picture to publish of all the many made-up people that live in my head and my fiction, I often wonder, do I have an accurate sense of who is important and who is merely minor?  I offer now some characters I don’t feel comfortable leaving out.

Mazie Haire

Mazie Haire

One of the Haire Sisters, rumored to be a witch, and proud to prove it to you, Mazie is a severe and highly focused individual with a knack for seeing and convincing you of the truth.  So, maybe she really is a witch.

She appears in;

Snow Babies

 

 

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Milton John Morgan (Milt)

I can’t tell you about the witch without mentioning the wizard.  Milt Morgan is the Merlin of the Norwall Pirates (an adventuring gang and 4-H softball team).

He is one of the founders of the gang and the one who got them into the most trouble in the 1970’s.

He appears in;

Superchicken

The Baby Werewolf

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Torrie Brownfield

Torrie is the hair-everywhere boy with hypertrichosis, the werewolf-hair disease.  He was genetically doomed to life looking like a werewolf.  He was discovered living in hiding in Norwall by the Pirates’ gang who decided they simply had to make him a member.

He is, of course, the main character of;

The Baby Werewolf

And also appears in;

Recipes for Gingerbread Children

 

Harker

Harker Dawes

Harker is a clown-character based on a real person living in the real town of Norwall.  He buys the local hardware store and runs the business into bankruptcy.  He is not only a ne’er-do-well, but he also is a truly loveable fool.

He plays a key role in;

Snow Babies

He is also in the upcoming novel;

Fools and Their Toys

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Dilsey Murphy

Dilsey is Mike’s slightly older sister who seems to be in a lot of my stories.  She is a tomboy and a Daddy’s girl.  She is also beloved by her irascible Grampy, Cudgel Murphy.  Mike Murphy both hates her and loves her, but mostly just depends on her.

She is in;

Magical Miss Morgan

The Bicycle-Wheel Genius

and a large number of upcoming stories

 

 

cudgels car

Sean “Cudgel” Murphy

Grampy of the Murphy Clan, Cudgel is the meanest old man you’d ever want to meet.  He is excellently suited to the job of teaching kids to swear.  And he only drives his Austin Hereford, “The finest car made anywhere in the whole goddam world in 1954!”

He appears in;

Snow Babies

The Bicycle-Wheel Genius

Crooner

Francois Martin

Francois, the French orphan, is the main character in my current manuscript,

Sing Sad Songs.

He paints his face in clown paint and sings beautifully enough to save his Uncle’s business.  I am halfway finished with this new novel.

So, now I feel like I have exhausted myself in character introductions and will probably eschew a “Part 4”.  But with Mickey, there are no guarantees.

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A Character Reference, Part 2

Yesterday an inconvenient internet outage interrupted my fountain of character gushing.  So let me splash a couple more on here.

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Tim Kellogg

Tim is a school teacher’s son who is sorta, kinda, based on my own oldest son… and maybe a little bit on me.  He’s clever, creative, a natural leader, and only slightly evil part of the time.

Tim is a main character in;

Catch a Falling Star

The Bicycle-Wheel Genius

Magical Miss Morgan

 

Grandma Gretel

 

Grandma Gretel Stein

Gretel is a German survivor of the concentration camps who sees and talks to fairies on a regular basis.  She also bakes magically delicious gingerbread cookies.  And loves to tell stories to those who eat her cookies.

She is a main character in;

Recipes for Gingerbread Children

She is an important character in;

Superchicken

The Baby Werewolf

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The Primary Cast of Recipes for Gingerbread Children (left to right) Grandma Gretel, the cookie baker, Todd Niland, handsome young farm boy and cookie-eater, Sherry Cobble, nudist and junior high cheerleader, and Sandy Wickham, cookie-eater and Todd Niland’s crush.

My Art 2 of Davalon

Farbick

He’s the alien Telleron pilot and good guy aboard Xiar’s space ship who gets shot during the failed invasion of Iowa and helps save the planet in the near future.  He’s a main character in;

Catch a Falling Star

Stardusters and Space Lizards

Davalon (re-named David by the couple who adopts him)

Dav is the alien boy accidentally lost on earth in Catch a Falling Star, and leader of the young explorers in Stardusters and Space Lizards.

Superchick

Edward-Andrew Campbell, the Superchicken

It is possible E-A is really me.  He bears my high school nickname.  He is a boy trying to cope with being the new kid in a tightly knit little Iowa farm town.

He is the main character in;

Superchicken

 

 

I fear I am still a long way from done with referring to characters in my books.  But more waits for another day.

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Lazy Sunday Non-Posting

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Dilsey Murphy, my favorite minor character

Some days… some rainy, nasty,  high-pollen days… I just don’t feel well enough to do the usual amount of writing.

Five hundred words on the daily post and five hundred words on my novel project are the usual product.

Today I give you a look at an artwork that I scanned in four parts and put together with a cheap photoshop program.  This is a picture of Dilsey Murphy, a supporting character in The Bicycle-Wheel Genius and Magical Miss Morgan.  She’s wearing a Carl Eller jersey for watching Sunday football with her dad Warren Murphy, a rabid Minnesota Vikings fan.  She is one of my favorite characters of all time as a minor player in a large number of my hometown stories, both written and unwritten.

So, that is the best I can do for today in this particular goofy little blog.  Less than 200 words, but with a Paffooney I am proud of.

 

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A Boy Named Tim

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Timothy Allen Kellogg is a fictional character who has lived in my fictional world since 1976 when he first appeared in an illustration I created at my desk in my college dorm room.

Tim is a main character in Catch a Falling Star, The Bicycle-Wheel Genius, and Magical Miss Morgan.  He will likely be written into a few more as well.

One could make a good case that he has become the fictional avatar of my eldest son.  He is the son of an English Teacher who has always been a me-character.  Lawrence “Rance” Kellogg is a character created during my college days as a crucial part of my own fictionalized life story.  But if Tim is my son in fictional form, you have to realize also that the character existed nineteen years before my son was a reality.  So there is some kind of magical evolution going on here.

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I must also acknowledge that Tim, being a major character, also voices many of the things that have always been issues in my mind.  He has to deal with the loss that comes when a best friend moves away.  He has to deal with the revelation that there really are transgender people and he actually knows one.  He has to deal with having an over-large imagination and being smarter than almost everyone else he knows.

But I can absolutely, and with a clear conscience, declare that Tim is NOT a me-character.  He has a girlfriend whom he has a never-ending unspoken crush on.  I never had that when I was a boy (at least I would never admit it to you if I did).   So, there is reason for me to try to seriously understand this fictional character, who he is, where he comes from, and the ideas he represents.  I am not the only writer I know who creates characters that he or she comes to treat as real people.  I hold imaginary conversations with Tim constantly, trying to learn more about him, how he feels about things, and the judgments he makes about the essential truths of life.

So now I have to end this essay, not because I am really finished talking about Tim, but because he tells me I have told you too much already, and he doesn’t want me talking about him any more today.

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Made-Up People

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I often get criticized for talking to people who are basically invisible, probably imaginary, and definitely not real people, no matter what else they may be.

The unfinished cover picture is from the novel The Bicycle-Wheel Genius which I just finished the final rewrite and edit for.  All of the characters in that book are fictional.    Even though some of them strongly resemble the real people who inspired me to create them, they are fictional people doing fictional and sometimes impossible things.  And yet, they are all people who I have lived with as walking, talking, fictional people for many years.  Most of those people have been talking to me since the 1970’s.  I know some of them far better than any of the real people who are a part of my life.

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These, of course, are only a few of my imaginary friends.  Some I spend time with a lot.  Some I haven’t seen or heard from in quite a while.  And I do know they are not real people.  Mandy is a cartoon panda bear, and Anneliese is a living gingerbread cookie.  I do understand I made these people up in my stupid little head.

But it seems to me that the people in the world around us are really no less imaginary, ephemeral, and unreal.  Look at the current Presidentumb of the Disunited States.  He is an evil cartoon James Bond villain if there ever was one.

Animated cast of OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT. Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Animated cast of OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT. Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

People in the real world create an imaginary person in their own stupid little heads, and pretend real hard that that imaginary person is really them in real life.  And of course, nobody sees anybody else in the same way that they see themselves.  Everybody thinks they are a somebody who is different from anybody else who thinks they are a somebody too, and really they are telling themselves, and each other, lies about who somebody really is, and it is all very confusing, and if you can follow this sentence, you must be a far better reader than I am a writer, because none of it really makes sense to me.  I think everybody is imaginary in some sense of the word.

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So, if you happen to see me talking to a big white rabbit-man who used to be a pet white rabbit, but got changed into a rabbit-man through futuristic genetic science and metal carrots, don’t panic and call the police.  I am just talking to another fictional character from a book I just finished writing.  And why are you looking inside my head, anyway?  There’s an awful lot of personal stuff going on in there.  Of course, you only see that because I wrote about it in this essay.  So it is not an invasion of privacy.  It is just me writing down stuff I probably should keep in my own stupid little head.  My bad.

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