Monday, March 17, 2014

Three Dee

Tommy Webber: Whatever, the one with the hologram. The wall of fire.
Gwen DeMarco: How the hell is Fred supposed to project a hologram?
Guy Fleegman: We're doing episode 81, Jason?
Jason Nesmith: It doesn't have to be a hologram, just a diversion.
Guy Fleegman: Jason, are we doing episode 81 or not?
Jason Nesmith: It's a rough plan, Guy, what does it matter if we're doing episode 81 or not?
Guy Fleegman: BECAUSE I DIED... IN EPISODE 81!
Galaxy Quest,1999.

The far-ranging work conversation somehow evolved to mention of Karen. Let me explain.
"It's made by Hazard 4," my work buddy said of the tactical gear bag he owned. "I think it's called the Evac Plan B."
"Awesome!" I replied. "That's exactly what Karen carried as a diaper bag."
"I used it as a diaper bag the first three months I owned it." He showed me how the interior could be customized, panels moved to and fro.
"Who's Karen?" another work friend asked.
"The main character in my first novel." Of course.
"You talk like she's real."
Out of IdeasI first met Karen Sorenson in 2005, at an airshow. An airplane had crashed miles away from the airport. I read a report and, on the drive home with a very good friend began what became Out of Ideas, my first novel. I needed a main character.
I chose Karen.
Creating a character, I've discovered, is a series of stops and starts. The first dimension is a gender, a name, and an outline. Tall, attractive and athletic. Successful in everything but love. Cindy, Claudia.... Karen! Blonde? Why not.
A police officer, of course. In an unhappy marriage, working for a good sheriff's department that is a thousand miles from where she wants to be. Lonely. Longing.
I wrote nearly a hundred thousand words just with that. But she was still one-dimensional.
An especially gracious friend at work helped me with a woman's perspective on being tall. Another, a decade-long peer, filled in a lot of blanks about the challenges of being a woman in law enforcement. My wife endured hundreds of "Karen would do...." questions at the most inopportune times. Surreptitious eavesdropping on how police women talk to each other evolved into dialogue. 
A writing instructor with a keen eye for consistency, two writer friends.... A friend who unwittingly but then graciously lent me a name....
She is three dimensional, as though projected as a hologram.
"You talk about her like she's real," one of my valued coworkers said.
She is.

No comments:

Post a Comment