Creating Characters That Keep YourReaders Aching For More
The Archangel Uriel
Today, I am going to share some excerpts on three new characters from Poison Well.
Each of them needed to be funny and interesting, and have a good backstory.
Remember, this is Christine Taylor's new Black Ops team, and it is always fun to give your main character a hard time.
This is a long post, but bear with me here. A lot of work went into these characters, and you should do the same with yours.
A new character can be described to the reader, or you can learn about them through good dialogue or action.
Pine Coffin Hardy
“Nice day, isn’t it?” Harry said.
“Wonderful.” Christine replied, annoyed. “Going to fill me in on this new operator?”
“Certainly, dear. Pine Coffin Hardy is an American legend. He - ”
Christine held up a hand. “I’m sorry, what did you say his name was?”
“Pine Coffin Hardy.”
“Pine Coffin Hardy.”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“Harry, come on. You expect me to believe that a woman - at some point in time, had a beautiful little baby, and decided to name her child Pine Coffin?”
Harry nodded, bemused. “That’s his name.”
“Okay, I’m just going to let that go for the moment. Continue.”
“May I, sweetheart? Are you sure?”
“Go ahead.” Christine said. “Spin your web of deceit. I’m used to it now.”
Harry cleared his throat. “Pine Coffin Hardy – as I was saying – was an American legend in the boxing ring. Except…Hardy was a black heavyweight champion at the turn of the century…an era where a black boxer that defeated a white boxer could get a guy lynched real quick.”
“Duh, of course.”
“Sorry, go on.” Christine noticed the look on Harry’s face. “Enough with the facial expressions! I was only kidding.”
“Quite all right.” Harry smirked. “Fortunately, Pine Coffin’s sheer personality overcame the racism at the time, which is really saying something. Hardy went on to own several New York nightclubs, became a winning race car driver, an actual bullfighter, and a secret agent in World War One.”
“Wow. Sounds like a genuine tough guy.”
“That’s not the end of his mucking about. After the war, Pine Coffin was the first man to trek around the globe on its polar axis, and he did that unsupported. He led expeditions up the White Nile, and Norway’s Jostedalsbreen Glacier. He also hiked to the South Pole…solo, using only surface transport – which hasn’t been done since.”
“How did he die?”
“That’s between Hardy and God, and neither of them are talking.”
“Yep…. but I have a theory.”
“I’m all ears.”
Harry put on sunglasses. “We know that Hardy went to prison in 1921 for gun-running…and not just any gun-running. He was very busy buying up every rifle he could get his hands on and shipping them to Africa.”
“Yes, Christine…Africa.” Harry stopped for a moment and gazed skyward. “In 1924, Hardy was released from maximum security in Sing Sing, and he transferred all of his wealth to his brother – then boarded a ship for Uganda.”
“Uganda! Back then, that was the armpit of the world.”
“Yes - still is, in fact.” Harry said. “It seems Pine Coffin Hardy had a real problem with the corrupt military coup that had taken place there. A serious problem. His diaries were confiscated from prison – and they revealed a desire to put an end to the oppressive, brutal government then in power.”
“Oh, yeah?” Christine asked, fascinated. “What did he do?”
“I think that Hardy did what he does best.”
“What was that exactly?”
“I think Hardy went to Uganda, hooked with a few mercenary rebels, and took on the whole Ugandan Army. The whole damn army. He was certainly never heard of again, and may have very well ended up in front of a firing squad.”
“I guess his mom was right in naming him Pine Coffin.”
Harry nodded and pointed. “There he is now.”
Christine followed Harry’s finger to a mountain of a man standing in the middle of Swann Street, daring traffic to mess with him.
Several young children skipped across the road safely, waving at the behemoth. It took her a moment to figure out what Pine Coffin Hardy was doing.
When Christine did, she punched Harry in the arm. “Do you think I’m blind, Harry? Give me a break!”
Pine Coffin Hardy, perhaps America’s original badass, was a crossing guard.
Christine’s spirits lifted, realizing that the tarp-covered objects on the flatbed truck were two vehicles – one of which would be the Camaro she’d requested. But she was puzzled by the young slip of the Asian girl waving the truck in.
“Who is that?”
Pine Coffin took a deep gulp of his drink. “That’s the muscle - Uriel.”
“God’s youngest Archangel?” Christine exclaimed. “That Uriel?”
“Yes….and the fourth member of our team.”
Christine looked again. Uriel was a Hmong teenager, about five feet tall, 95 pounds or so, and dressed in black jeans and a peach blouse.
“That’s the muscle? You’re kidding, right?”
Pine Coffin shook his head. “Nope. You and I were human at one time, Christine. We have limitations imposed upon on us by that fact. Uriel was never human.”
“Never human…that’s a little hard to comprehend.”
“It was for me too at first. Try to understand, though - Father God made her from materials only found in deep space, just like Michael, Raphael and Gabriel. But they are much, much older. Uriel is only 990-million-years old.”
Pine Coffin nodded. “Even so, she is absolutely indestructible.”
Parker Noble – in Christine’s opinion - was not an impressive sight. Although he was a handsome young man, with pale blue eyes and unruly dirty blond hair - his choice in attire left a lot to be desired.
A whole lot to be desired.
Noble wore dark jeans with holes in the knees, reproduction Star Wars boots, a threadbare Smashing Pumpkins T-shirt with a brown vest, and a ratty straw cowboy hat. Christine nearly dry-heaved in revulsion.
He sat at his cluttered computer workstation, surrounded by comic books, Red Bull cans and toy race cars - as well as a bunch of other junk. A slot-car track wound its way around the area, held up in places by stacks of books and sci-fi memorabilia.
She briefly leafed through a Spiderman comic, then lifted a Ferrari from the track and peered at it. The little race man inside had been painted with painstaking detail.
“Hey, hey, hey! Don’t touch that.” Noble hollered, pulling off his headphones. “Those cars are all prepped for Le Mans. Took me hours to get the look right.”
Christine gingerly set the car back on the track. Noble went back to fiddling with a makeshift computer keyboard.
“Dr. Noble, we came down to speak to you.” Harry said patiently.
“Dude, I’m totally swamped here. I got an epic race laid out and I’m combining a new music phenomenon – dubstep jazz fusion rock. Busy day, you dig? Good race needs a soundtrack, know what I’m saying?”
Harry nodded, mouth open. “Busy day…yes…real groundbreaking stuff.”
“Yeah, you feel me.” Noble flicked a hand. “So whatever you need…core values on the server, or dissolved gas readings from the heat plant…just go ahead and get what you want.”
“That’s very generous of you, Dr. Noble.”
“Uh-huh, whatever. The carbon capture system is working just fine, by the way. I checked the trace element emissions at lunch time.”
Christine, incensed, picked up a toy Porsche and crushed it. “The race has been cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.”
Noble swiveled slowly in his chair and looked at the tiny car parts spread across the floor, then up at Christine.
“Dude, that’s harsh.”
Christine nodded. “No great loss. Porsche was never anything more than an overpriced VW Bug.”
“Dr. Noble….do you know who we are?”
“Umm…no. Should I?”
“This is Director Moss, and I’m Deputy Director Taylor. Ring any bells?”
“Christine Taylor and Harry Moss? Whoa, you guys started this place.” Noble stood and shook their hands. “Totally old school back then – you guys are real pioneers. I don’t get topside much, you know? Been stuck down here since ’92, taking care of the server farm and geothermal exchangers. But that’s cool, you know? Totally dig what you guys have done with the place.”
Christine sniffed. “I’m so totally glad you approve.”
“Are you…like…making fun of me?”
“No, I simply don’t like you.” Christine said. “You look like a scruffy Han Solo.”
Noble grinned broadly. “Thanks!”
“A scruffy gay Han Solo.”
“Got a problem with that?’
“You aren’t exactly user-friendly, Dr. Taylor.”
“I’m not some appliance – like a coffee maker.”
“That’s good.” Noble smiled radiantly. “Be some real cold coffee. Nobody likes cold coffee.”
All of the characters in my new book are found somewhere in history. Uriel is a real Archangel, known as the Flame of God....as an example.
Here are some more characters that were developed from studying history:
King Brian the Hated - Irish conqueror
Ulf the Quarrelsome - His brother
Learned Hand Hardy - A judge and father of two famous turn-of-the-century models
Alicia Sonnet - An actual serial killer in 1863 (Belle Gunness of Norway)
What is your favorite supporting character?