Who the Heck Do You Think You Are? by Pam Uphoff
(Pam is out of town and asked me to post this for her.)
“Wolfson, we’re going t’have a chat when I get done with this job.”
What? What? Look, you’re a bit character, you don’t even have a first name, or a rank. You can’t just stand up and demand a major role.
(Picture steamed author with fingers posed motionless over the keys, mind blank.)
Fine, fine. You’re a lieutenant. Oh, you want a first name? Mortimer.
I suspect all writers have had the experience of a character taking over a story. I was lucky this time, he was satisfied with playing a minor part . . . so . . . how’d I wind up with his backstory as a short story, and how’d he wind up with major roles thereafter?
And it can be worse than that.
. . . Raod and company weren’t the only strollers, but there weren’t many people about. Joggers of both sexes, a grayhaired couple meandering . . .
One young man didn’t look either athletic or relaxed.
He was focused on Rael, scowling.
Young, dark-haired, light complexioned, he could have stepped out of an antique picture of an arrogant young Uruguayan noble from before the nuclear war. His scowl deepened as he stalked toward her. He stopped two meters away from her outstretched legs.
“We know who you are, why you’re here. It won’t work, we’re not stupid.”
Rael cocked her head and thought that over. What? “Good. Now go away.”
He leaned forward, eyes narrowing.
Is he actually trying to look intimidating? Rael looked him over: feet in new high-fashion leather boots, faux combat pants, tight black muscle shirt with almost enough muscles to carry it off. Fuzz on his chin that might be an attempt at a goatee. Gorgeous eyelashes around crystalline blue eyes.
Enough glow to her inner vision to show he was a Oner, not a Halfer. Projecting it as hard as he could. High Servaone, possibly low Clostuone. Hell, as young and untrained as he is, he could be higher.
“We won’t fall for your act.” His voice went falsetto. ” ‘Oh, I’m all depressed and need more pain killers than the doctor will prescribe. Oh, woe is me! What shall I do?’ Well, Chica, you get nothing from us, capich? Nada.”
Rael could feel her smile spreading. “Wow! Three languages in one sentence. Must be wonderful to be multilingual.” She stifled a snicker. “And voice acting as well. Do I know you? Nah, you’re too young.”
He stiffened. “Are you laughing at me?”
“I laugh at a lot of things.” She shrugged her left shoulder. “I get into a lot of trouble that way. What’s your name?”
“Eb . . . None of your business, Cocina.”
She frowned. “Did you just call me a kitchen? I’ve never been called a kitchen before.”
His face went expressionless, blank for a moment. Near panic in his eyes. “No! No, you misheard. So just be warned, we know who you are and you won’t find any drugs on any of us, and we won’t help you at all.” He turned and stalked away. Quickly.
Rael leaned her head back, grinning. Trying to control laughter, because laughing had a nasty tendency to become suddenly painful. Oh, One! I have just met the Empire’s stupidest drug dealer. She sobered suddenly. He can’t have been older than sixteen. Was he clued in enough to know he was disposable? Someone with a few more street smarts was watching from a distance. Probably the same man who sent the kid out here to deliver an ultimatum. Heh. So they think I’m a Narc? I really ought to be insulted. I . . . almost wish I was capable of the work.
Did you see that? He flubbed his lines. Made himself memorable. The stupid wannabe gang member is now the Main Character of six stories of various lengths, at least two of which will be novels when I get around to editing them.
What causes this? Why do some characters suddenly click with a writer’s subconscious and come to life? How the heck do they take over a chunk of the backbrain and take over the writing process? I mean, my MCs take over all the time. It’s these walk-ons that suddenly spring to life that baffle me.
So, fess up. Give us an example of the moment the %$#@ stood up and became real in _your_ writing.
Oh, and Mr. Flubbed his lines can be found here: