Elizabeth: What would your characters give for Christmas?

XmasCatAfter the big push in November, my writing productivity has slowed down tremendously. There most definitely will not be a second consecutive month with a 50,000 word count.

I’m okay with that.

Life has been busy enough this month with business trips, vacation, work deadlines, and a stomach virus, along with shopping, baking, wrapping, and whatnot.

Though writing has moved down on the priority list for a few weeks, I’m still trying to keep up last month’s practice of touching some part of the story every day. So, while the draft manuscript is off sitting in a drawer “resting”, I’ve been resting myself, filling the creative well, and brainstorming particular pieces of the story that are not completely nailed down just yet.

One thing I’ve been trying to get a better feel for is my characters. Yes, I know who they are and what happens to them during the story, but I don’t quite have their character arcs nailed down as well as I’d like to and I’m still trying to flesh out some background details.   We’ve talked about “character” on the blog many times. The posts here, here, and here provide some practical exercises for learning about your characters, and there is a good post here that talks about character arcs.

One thing I’ve always found helpful, when trying to get to know my characters better, is to think about how they would act in everyday situations. Since I am looking specifically at how the characters change over the course of the story, I want to see how their actions at the beginning of the story differ from their actions at the end of the story.

Since we’re in the midst of the holiday season, I thought it would be a fun exercise to think about what gifts my characters would give to each other at different points in the story.

My protagonist is Maddie. She’s in her late twenties, works in the business field, and is very career focused. She worked at the Small Business Administration at one point, helping owners get their companies up and running. That’s where she first met the antagonist, Sam, when he had just taken over the family business after his dad’s death. They got together, then things fell apart, and now they are giving it another try.

In the beginning, Sam would probably have given Maddie a briefcase or some other business-like gift. Being practical, Maddie would have given Sam something he needed for the company – maybe a software program to help him with his billing or something, since she knows he is struggling with that.   Ugh. It’s no wonder they broke up.

Fast forward to the end of the story where, conveniently, it actually is Christmastime. Maddie and Sam have both had their ups and downs, and both have both learned that they didn’t really want what they were initially working so hard to get. For Maddie, that means that she has stopped climbing the corporate ladder and found work that is more personal and fulfilling. For Sam, that means that he’s thinking of selling the family business to go back to the career he really wants, rather than sticking with the job he was forced into.

So, what would they give each other now?

I think Sam would give Maddie a puppy because he knows she has wanted one since her previous dog died when she was in college. She never got another, because she was so focused on work, but now things have changed.  Maddie might give Sam a sketchbook and drafting tools because she knows what he really wants to do is go back to being an architect and she wants him to know she supports his dream.   Hopefully, when the puppy gets loose and chews up the drafting tools they’ll take it all in stride.   Hmm. Maybe he should give her a ring instead. I might have to give that a little more thought.

So, what do you think your current characters would give each other for Christmas? Do their choices give you any additional insights about them?

8 thoughts on “Elizabeth: What would your characters give for Christmas?

  1. I’m in February in my story. Not sure if there’s an engagement ring lurking at a Fourth of July picnic, or if it’ll be a Christmas gift. Or if it’ll be forthcoming. Or if they’ll even be alive . . . . Christmas would be Book Three or Four, I think.

    I’m finding it a little hard to peek behind the curtain, to tell the truth. I think I know, but I want to keep it as a surprise for myself . . . if that makes any sense at all.

    I do think, though, that the gifts people give each other say a lot about both people and the state of the relationship. That’s great characterization (-:.

  2. Keefe was 14 when her mother, Marianne Blackmon, an inspriational artist, died during what should have been a routine hysterectomy. Keefe’s dad remarried a year later and Keefe wound up with the step-mother from Hell. As part of her satanic mission, stepmom Lilith has been removing all traces of her predecessor from the face of the earth. So Keefe has nothing that belonged to her mom. Asmodeus would give Keefe Marianne’s palette, which he rescued from a landfill in Hell.

    Now I just need to think about what she might give him.

  3. I like this game! In the beginning, Mary would give Cam something laddish and a touch juvenile – maybe an anthology of a lad’s magazine like Viz (I have no idea what the US equivalent would be, but it’s full of fart jokes and politically incorrect humor), or a portable version of a traditional pub game like skittles (when he’s home, he plays Jenga in the village pub with Alex, Gilded Lily’s chief geek). Cam would give Mary something that reflects her neat-freak organisational skills and the fact that she’s never off duty. I think maybe the Aqua Notes that a couple of the Ladies have recommended, so that she can make to-do lists even when she’s in the shower.

    I have to think some more about how that would change when they know one another better.

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