My brain is being held hostage by (as yet) an untold story. I don't know how it begins or ends, but the hero is wearing rumpled camouflage and is trying to talk me into a skydiving scene. He's a doctor, and a strange dichotomy: a man committed to saving lives, who can't feel truly alive unless he's risking his own. Not an easy man to be around, trust me; the first to volunteer for a medical mission to Afghanistan, a man who'll finish his ER shift stateside despite a fractured leg-- and, trust me, someone who'll have no empathy if you call in sick with a sore throat. Nor will he open to discovering the emotional wounds behind his own apparent death wish.
I can imagine the inevitable clash if he must suddenly share workspace with an idealistic ER nurse . . . turned hospital chaplain because of an injury that put her on extended disability. Especially if she gets close enough to see the wounded man behind his bravado.
For writers this is often the way books start, hints of characters, glimpses of action, snippets of dialogue. These things simply come to us--often in the shower. Seriously. Where is that crayon soap when you need it?
So why an "action hero" character? Good question. Maybe because I understand--on a small scale, certainly-- the pull between a cautious, logical, pre-planned, "safe" approach to life and the intriguing draw of the out-of-the-ordinary adventure. Or because, admittedly, I've had times in my life when due to circumstances, I threw ordinary caution to the wind. And now, in hindsight, I can ask . . . "What on earth were you thinking?!" Like when I:
1) took my small children to watch their father strap himself into a hang glider and jump from a high Sierra cliff. Then chased him for miles when an updraft carried him frighteningly out of sight and far away from target.
2) climbed into the bucket seat of an ultralight aircraft--no more than a lawnmower with wings--legs dangling, to skim over northern California vineyards . . . and chase coyotes. Always holding my breath when the tiny engine sputtered, gasped.
3) drove to a sky diving site to take photographs . . . and ended up jumping from a plane at 13,000 feet.
4) Swam in the Caribbean with stingrays . . . the week before the Crocodile Hunter was fatally speared through the chest by one.
5) Rode a young thoroughbred who'd been laid up for months (his energy building like a volcano), and was bucked off to suffer fractured ribs, back, punctured lung, a broken neck and a spinal cord injury.
I do not consider myself particularly adventurous. But, in hindsight and with distance, it's clear to me that in almost every instance there was an emotional component that spurred my taking an uncharacteristic risk. That is what I find intriguing about this new hero who has been tugging at my subconcious. Why is he so willing to take risks? What motivates him? Is he truly fearless . . . or does he fear something far more devastating than physical injury and even death?
And . . . what would it take for him to change?
Couple of questions for you:
1) Have you taken an uncharacteristic risk that makes you now wonder, "What was I thinking?"
2) Anyone have a suggestion for good name for this hero who is stomping around in my mind?
My last 3 heroes were Logan, Scott, and Nick.
This new name should ideally work well with the heroine's name: Riley. So I should avoid R's, or "ee" sounding endings--too "matchy matchy". (This coming from an author who is a "Candy" married to an "Andy"!)
Perhaps one syllable, or three? A shortened version of a longer name?
I'd love to hear your ideas!
Meanwhile I'll let these characters, this story, percolate while hubby and finish making excursion plans for our upcoming vacation. A cruise through the Southern Caribbean to the Panama Canal. I'm proud of myself for crossing out the "Stingray Adventure" this go round. A glass bottom boat (even if Pirahnas are an issue) sounds relatively tame. Kayaks though the Grand Cayman lagoon, sure--vegetation is non-threatening. Chagres River Panama rainforest hike with sloths, igunanas, monkeys, toucans . . . cool. And then there's that last one:
"Rain Forest Canopy Adventure": double-cable ziplines streching 197 feet above the rainforest. The rainforest canopy at eye-level, thrilling slides from platform to platform, "adrenaline afficionados will love this tour."
Oh, blast it.
My un-named hero, is whispering "Go for it."
Forget the shower soap. Get me a roll of duct tape--this character is going to be a challenge.