Photo | Vladimir Nabokov & Vera

There are several ways to help a character develop or grow.

These ways are a variation of how I initially find the character that I need or didn’t know I needed. Like I explained previously I use two methods really – one being, finding a character within the circles of people around me and the other, from things I see like photographs.

Not sure how I found this photograph, but I did. It is associated with a book I will have to look into called “Letters to Vera” by Vladimir Nabokov – I ‘think’ the book is about a long term relationship. But what ever the book is about it was exactly the image of Alastar Whybow’s magician companion and counter part in the Guild Physiologus – Edita Plotke.

When I saw this old photograph two things popped into my head. First the woman does not look from that era. Her eyes say something different, like she is looking back at me knowing the future – that she is timeless. The second thing is that I know it is her, Edita. It is Edita right down to the way she is toying with the collar of her elaborate coat. I could feel her through the photo and it was so good to see her in the flesh.

The gentle man standing with her in a devoted way and appearing out of character within the role of devotion, looks like my impression of her old flame and lover, Osbert Stanhope. Osbert is a magus and a practicing necromancer. He like Alastar Whybow have a similar dark past as members of the magician’s Guild Maleficia. Both magus, as young men, explored without seemingly limits the arts of magick where ever it took them. Alastar dabble in necromancy research with the brothers Osbert and Osborn Stanhope. But later Alastar’s studies took him into far different areas of magick. What later joined the three men together was their rejection of the totality of darkness that the Guild of Maleficia enforced upon its guild membership. Dark practices that the three did not feel were necessary for advancement of the Great Work. After joining the Guild Physiologus, Osbert and Osborn later met their work mates. Alastar Whybow was assigned within his guild work, Edita Plotke as his devoted companion, as he was to be her’s, in the Great Work within the Guild Physiologus. The work could be dangerous and the Guild wanted its membership safe and accounted for. Like the saying goes two heads are better than one. Edita had a fine head and was a match to Alastar’s abilities, as much as he was to her’s.

The photograph says it all. The character as you can tell grew their own flesh and heart. This picture is worth more than a thousand words!

I have yet to find a photograph representation of Alastar Whybow. I am sure some day, maybe, way after the novel is completed I may either meet him or find a photo of him. I have grown very close to him and feel he is even more important than the main character. He has made it hard for me to flesh out Candice le Wilde. But I finally did find someone who could help Candice out. That is her magus guardian/guide Gerard Kopt. Gerard Kopt is a magician researcher and point man for the Guild Physiologus. He is an expert on the type of mythological creature that Candice is and does not realize she is yet, the virgin – a unicorn rider, as they are called. Kopt at first attempts as always to be detached from his work – to put in  his best focused and professional effort, while teaching and guiding the unicorn riders. He has studied magic from around the world in his travels and he is very familiar with the ever so real myths surrounding the dead and death. Life came to the character of Candice when she was met with her severe need of finding herself as the world she knew crumbled in her hands. She turned to the one who appeared to pursue her. She felt she must surrender to his demands in order to learn who she was. Kopt could no longer be detached, the situation was now more than just a student who needed him and that he must teach. He continued his professional approach because that was his best he could give to this responsibility. But he knew he needed to give something of himself in order for this woman to survive learning what she must know and finding herself. He had to be there in the moment as a human being for her, as an equal and someone she could trust with her life. So both Gerard and Candice found their voice within each other, because of the roles they must both take on. It was amazing to me to have found both characters in this way!

Something else I have found useful in the creation and growth of the characters is what I call a ‘Character Bestiary’. This file started out as a sort of story timeline of when characters would appear in the story and what characters could be possibly needed. The document grew into not only the name and type of character, but what their persona was about, who they were associated with and what other characters were important to them – whether enemies, friends or lovers. I have thought about including a polished version of this document in the back of the book for easy reader reference of characters and terms as a working Character Bestiary. If I were reading a book that had so many character relationships and did not know what a magus was or how the term guild was being used – I would most certainly find such a thing helpful. What do you think?