This week’s challenge: tell us about any experience you’ve had with a character developing without your conscious input.
I first met Adam right here on Gather. In my memory of our first meeting I saw him in silhouette. He walked out of a bank of fog. He strode up, smiled at me and shook my hand.
My memory is faulty, of course. Adam was not the sort of person who would stride up to anybody, let alone shake their hand or smile. Few people ever actually met Adam, and those who did rarely remember him. He only appeared on Gather four times, but he has stuck with me ever since.
In early March 2009, Ron drew my attention to Sandy Knauer’s character development exercises the day before they were due to start. The first exercise was to introduce everybody to the character we were going to use, and as a result of that time pressure Adam first presented as a bit of a blank canvas.
In my mind at least, he did not stay that way for long.
That blank canvas was a bit of a façade. Adam may have been beige, but he was that way for a reason. When he was made to list his refrigerator magnets he revealed more about himself by what he didn’t say than by what he did. And his letters to some of the other characters were equally opaque.
But within my imagination he had already grown. By now I had become a first-time dad and my priorities elsewhere, so a few more of Adam’s experiences made it to the page but not to Gather.
Which was probably a good thing. Because when he wrote his letter to me, I had become decidedly spooked. Not only because of what he said and for the fact that he ganged up on me, but also because I already knew by this time what he was capable of, what he was going to do, and where he was going to end up.
You see, I knew that Adam was already dead. And that the reason he was dead was that he had crossed too many people too many times, including, with fatal results, Ron’s excellently nasty character. Everything he said and did here was a memory, a last flash of consciousness before he went… well, I don’t know where. As it happened, Adam was not a particularly nice person, and while he may longer be on Gather he is, as he wrote to me, sitting in my id, waiting for me to acknowledge him and place him again on a page.
Which I don’t think I’m brave enough to do any time soon. At least not until I've taken more of those happy pills that the nice doctor gave to me.