Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor
zette@cableone.net

 

The Ordinary Woman

By Rodger Murry
2006,
Rodger Murry


There have been so many articles on character creation that it would almost be redundant for me to describe how I create characters. First off, I'm not terribly certain where they come from, other than I'm fond of relating names to characteristics. But I would like to talk to you about the creation of one of my characters.

August is not particularly young at 32, nor particularly pretty except in that clear-skinned, nice hair and brightly-coloured eyes way that most women are pretty. Neither slim nor plump, she is the average.

She is named after a month because her mother and her grandmother and all the women in her family's history have been named after the months of the year. Her grandmother was June, her mother July.

Her first appearance was in a short story where she left her long-time sleazeball boyfriend after shooting up his TV because he cheated on her with an unnamed high school girl. Typical, sort of. She left in her father's old farm truck, with his police pistol tucked between the seats, and drove until morning.

Now it may sound silly, but I created August specifically for the purpose of describing the place she was in and what it made her feel, because it's a place I've been and a thing I've felt but never been able to articulate. August was, essentially, me. At the time I wrote her I was not a 32-year-old women with trouble fitting into her jeans and a sleazy boyfriend who never left his armchair -- except, apparently, to commit statutory rape. I was not even a woman. For clarification, I am not one now either.

I was feeling jaded, vaguely lost, and as though I were driving along a paved county road between two endless wheat fields in the sunrise. No destination, just cruising along in the rosy light of youth and possibility. So August became somebody that people could really believe. You could see why this woman was jaded and uncertain.

In that short story, which I later titled "The Ordinary Woman," August showed my favourite attributes in myself and other people: an urge to raise some hell, and the balls to not give a damn about everyone else when her own wellbeing was at stake.

Later I began a much longer story with August, which is still untitled and should become a novel in the due course of time, and I am finding that there is room to show the parts of August that are also in me. She's not all piss and vinegar, and she's definitely not perfect.

There is a scene in the story where August wakes up in an inn and finds herself, through her morning routine, trying to get up the momentum to get through the day. She feels as she puts her bra on and puts her hair back into its ponytail that she is putting herself together. There is a feeling that she is getting ready to go through the day on her own two feet, because Lord knows nobody else is going to carry her.

Finally she stands, dressed, takes a deep breath, and makes the decision that I make many mornings. She decides to walk out the door and try her damndest to be the best person she is because she'll be damned if anything keeps her from being who she is.

I'm not sure why I feel the need to tell people about August. She is, for me, an extremely rare treat. So many times in books I have wanted to jump into the story and scream, "Don't do that, you idiots! Don't you see where this is going! Foreshadowing in chapter six clearly indicates what the antagonist is going to do!" With August, I have that voice in the story. It's not filtered through a character that I have created by the rules or through any process. That's just me, on the page. Sure, she's a woman and nearly 20 years my senior, but she is me, make no mistake. Just as in life, on the page, being myself has been a great freedom and a joy.