Character is possibly my favorite aspect of Story. Sure a compelling plot is great and a well built setting is a joy, but who cares about any of that if there aren't any good characters to root for? So I've signed up for my first blogfest in some time: the I'm Hearing Voices Character Blogfest, which lasts all week. This fest is being hosted by Cassie Mae of Reading, Writing, and Lovin' It and Angie of Live to Write... Edit When Necessary.
Day One has us asking one of our characters a series of rather personal questions. I've chosen to ask them of Bulsara, who is the star of the short story I'm trying to write. A little background on him first. Bulsara is one of the denizens of the fantasy world I've been building for the past year. He's a minstrel with the itch to travel and at the beginning of the story is he thousands of miles away from his homeland, in a part of the world that is so vastly different from his own that he finds he can't even get a decent job. The poor guy is a fish out of water who is about to find himself on an adventure like he's never experienced before. Let's make him even more uncomfortable, shall we?
Sit down, Bulsara, and have a drink. I've got a few questions for you.
Thank you, my friend! Sure you wouldn't rather have a song instead?
Not today. There are some things I'm very interested to know about you.
Ah, well, of course. I'll tell you all about myself... for another drink.
Have as many as you like. I can easily conjure them out of the air.
Good trick. So, what can I tell you?
What is your biggest vulnerability?
Who says I have any?
You must. I created you and I know better than to make a character without any flaws.
If you must know, as a minstrel I'm a bit limited.
My voice has always been my instrument. I have dedicated many years to perfecting my tone and timbre, my diction and resonance. If I may say so, mine is surely the finest voice to come out of Naqada, my home city, for at least one hundred years. And yet...
It does me no good here in this wilderness trap! I traveled to see and experience things, to improve myself and my songwriting. Now I find myself in the most dismal corner of the world and not a soul here cares that I have cultivated the most impressive vocal range for generations! They just want me to pluck or blow their primitive noise makers. Their pipes and their lutes. But I... I just can't get the hang of them.
I see. Do others know or is it a secret?
Well, every single person who has turned me down knows, obviously. I can't get a performing job anywhere. Though if anyone from my homeland ever learned... oh, my pride.
So perhaps the real vulnerability is your pride?
I suppose. Also women. But everyone knows that.
What do people believe about you that is false?
A better question would be what don't they believe about me that is false? I'm a minstrel. A performing bard. I am trained and paid, sometimes, to create a persona that people can believe in. A persona that excites them, that brings out their emotional responses. Who can say which parts are true and which are false? Not I. That's a secret I'll keep.
Fine. What would your best friend say is your fatal flaw?
My, my. You're really focused on the negatives aren't you? Are you sure that doesn't say more about you than me?
I'm doing the analyzing here. And I expect an answer or that mug of ale just might disappear.
You do play dirty, don't you? I like that. Well then, the truth is that I don't have a best friend. I don't really have any friends. I travel too much, you see. There's just no time to form any sort of relationship.
I'll put down that you fail to form real attachments. Imagine then, that you do have a best friend. What do you think he or she would say is your one redeeming quality?
One? That's being a little judgmental, isn't it? I have many good qualities. But if I must restrict myself to one... I'm a good judge of people. You have to be, in my line of work. You need to be able to read the reactions of the crowd and adapt your performance to their moods. Sometimes I like to think that being a minstrel is the best job you can have if you really want to understand the human condition. People respond to music like nothing else.
Very interesting. Last two questions. What do you want most? And what would you do to get it?
What I want... Renown. I want every land and every country in this whole world to know me as the greatest minstrel of the age. I want them to tell stories of my musical prowess for generations. I want them to remember my contributions. I want my songs to be sung for centuries to come. What would I do to get it? Just about anything, I imagine.
Thank you, Bulsara. You've been a very good subject.
Ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. The innermost thoughts of Bulsara, minstrel extraordinaire, hopefully coming to a kindle near you very soon. Come back on Wednesday for the next post in the I'm Hearing Voices Blogfest.