Friday, October 9, 2009

Stalked by a Nameless Hero

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.

12 comments:

Bridget Chumbley said...

Candy, who would have known you had such an adventurous side? Those were some pretty big 'risks' you've taken!

I love the new thoughts your characters are 'forcing' into your creative mind! I'm so anxious to see how it all plays out...

Isn't it awesome when they go from 'ideas' to 'real people'?

Oh, and what about Mitch? Or Chris (Christopher)?

Sherry3995 said...

Ok, in regards to doing something daring... Nope not me. No bungi jumping, no skydiving, no not me, sorry.

As for your hero's name, I am sensing a Tyler. Sounds like he could be from a long line of military family members, rough and tough, but deep down, a big ole teddy bear, great for cuddling. Sounds like he would be one to push the envelope regarding procedures, like "a rule bender" however only doing this to benefit someone else, not himself.

I enjoy reading this blog, thanks for sharing, enjoy your trip.

CandaceCalvert said...

Hi Bridget. Yes, you too know the awesome process of breathing "life" into characters. At some point they do seem real--and quite able and willing to argue their viewpoints!

I like both of your suggestions--particularly Mitch. It's one I hadn't thought of. Making a list. Not on the shower wall. ;-)

CandaceCalvert said...

Tyler--another good suggestion. And I like the idea of his military family. He's a Texan, too--lots of military folks here, particularly in the San Antonio area.

Thanks for stopping by, Sherry. And here's a salute to YOU for having such great, safe, common sense! :-)

Kristi said...

Something uncharacteristic? Not really - but boy, have you had some adventures!!

Character's name... How about Jake - or maybe Cooper - Coop for short.

Loved Critical Care - looking forward to this new one!

CandaceCalvert said...

Thank you, Kristi (reminds me, there's a character in Code Triage named Kristi!).

I've always liked Jake. And love the idea of Cooper. Last names as first names always seem neat to me.

Jake and Riley.
Riley and Coop.
Just feeling them out . . . ;-)

Julie J. said...

Candy, girl, you are definitely someone full of adventure! I can't even enjoy the thrill rides at Six Flags!

Names...wow, you've already got some good ones. I was thinking Michael, Xavier ("X" for short), or Jordan.

I'm so excited I can barely contain myself to read your upcoming novels!!

C.J. Darlington said...

Name ideas:

Colt
Bullitt (my Dad's middle name that he uses as his first!)
Jeff

CandaceCalvert said...

Julie, thanks for stopping by! And Jordan is one I'd been thinking of too. Great minds! ;-)

CandaceCalvert said...

CJ--your dad's name is really Bullitt? I'm so awed by that!!

Incredible. No wonderful you inherited such a creative imagination. :-)

SketchGirl said...

I like the name Nathaniel nickname Nate.
I think I would be more adventureous if I didn't let me imagination get ahead of me or wasn't afraid of heights most zany things seem to involve heights and when they add the warning if your afraid of heights... a real buzz kill.

Hero could have been a bookish type and then something just snapped and he just suddenly felt larger than life. Event to cause the change death of a close friend, near death encounter, broken relationship, reached the end of his rope....

CandaceCalvert said...

Hello "SketchGirl"--thank you for stopping by (up?) from Australia!
I had a horse named Nate once. :-)
Good name.
And you're so right about motivation behind a hero's need for risk and adventure. I'm thinking--as opposed to "larger than life"--one of those losses might make him feel a sense of survivor's remorse. And take risks with his own life?
Hope you stop by again!