For this week’s Wednesday Night Writing Exercise, I looked at one of my older pieces, about figuring out what characters’ natural environments are. This time I’ve got a nice range, mostly requests, of characters and the rather idiosyncratic (and almost never purely physical) environments they best fit into. As always, feel free to comment on the results, or to add your own examples.
Devin flourishes on the boundaries of conversation; his is not a location but a state of being. At his front are people talking; they may be parties full of strangers, they may be his two closest friends among his peers, they may be his mentor’s odd permanent houseguests; at his back there is silence, and an absence of sound and motion. Sometimes it seems as if he cloaks himself in that silence and absence, becomes part of it, all the better hidden in plain sight; watching like an owl, listening like a deer. In those rare times when he speaks–more often among friends than acquaintances–his words are all the louder for their scarcity.
One might think that Hieu belongs outdoors, and one would probably, at least at first glance, be right. In the perfectly tweaked homes of the powerful, he doesn’t fit–his look alone is an imbalance waiting to happen. But neither does he belong fully in the wilderness. Hieu’s space is metaphysical rather than physical; the place between courage and sensibility, between the desperate situation and the crazy idea it kicks loose.
(That, or Hieu’s optimal place is charging through the austere stone halls of a school that hides somewhere sinister, clinging to the back of a boar and possibly steering it with a starmap on a stick. Belonging is what you make of it.)
Kes belongs in two places. One is those places where the enemy can be found; the world about her is bright colors but the details matter far, far less than the black and white clash between her and the foe; they are many, but she is strong, and she exults in her fight. In peace, her environment is the training ground, warm polished wood beneath her feet, the walls at a distance plain or mirrored or a bright off-white; within it she holds a space and defends it, against shadows or golems or her peers, seeing or blind–her world is a fight, her world is a dance, her world is a pattern, and she knows every step as she moves through it.
One can tell where Dexter belongs from where he is–little else matters. Dexter carries his belonging like he does his curtain rod staff, wears it like he does his jacket–if where he goes, people laugh with him, if the colors seem brighter in his presence, if darkness takes a look and decides to tread carefully around him or to move the other way, then Dexter is where Dexter belongs.