The Blog of John Hewitt

Character Biography for Delbert “Dell” Martin

Below is a character biography I have been working on for my planned NaNoWriMo story. The goal with the biography for me is mainly to get some character details I can draw in as the story progresses. Dell is meant to be the lead character, but by necessity, he is not as flamboyant as some of the other characters I intend to introduce. I think he is interesting, but not a flashy character. If you read my post, Character Bio Sheets, you’ll see that I left some items off. The sheet is meant to be a tool that you can fill in as you go. This is what I have for him so far, and I will add more as I get more thoughts about the character.

 

Character Name: Delbert Martin

Nickname / Alias: Dell

Date of Birth:  August 29th, 1995

Place of Birth: Tucson, Arizona

Residence:  Dell lives in the town of Santa Creda. He lives in a tiny apartment above a sandwich shop. He moved there about a year earlier to take a job.

General Appearance:  Dell is pleasant looking, but not the type of person people notice for his looks. He is relatively fit, with a surprising amount of upper body strength for his size. He tends to dress neatly, if somewhat blandly.  He prefers solid colors, and mainly dresses in blues, grays, and browns.

Height: Five foot nine.

Weight: 155 pounds.

Clothing Sizes: Wears medium shirts and size 32 pants.

Clothing Choices:  For casual wear Dell generally wears Jeans and a t-shirt. For work he wears khakis and a polo shirt.

Hair: Dell has dark brown hair that he wears short, usually about two inches long. He does not have a beard or mustache.

Eye Color: Brown

Handedness: Right

Jewelry: He does not wear jewelry.

Tattoos / Marks: None

Role in the Story: Dell is the lead protagonist. If there are scenes without him, they will be few and probably focused on Zeke.

Key Relationships: Dell and Zeke spend most days together, he is the closest friend Dell has.  Mari was his best friend growing up. He had romantic feelings toward her that were never realized. Del’s Mother Rozalia has a somewhat strained relationship with him. He also has three older brothers, with whom he seldom speaks. They are eight, ten, and thirteen years older than him. Dell was closer to his father, who died three years earlier. Dell has another high school friend, Jared, but does not keep in touch after Mari began dating him. Dell has some interest in Janie, a girl who works the checkout counter at the independent grocery/convenience store across the street from the sandwich shop.

Education: Dell has an Associate’s Degree in Computer Information Systems. He is also a high school graduate. He graduated both schools with honors and has always been a good student who likes to read.

Work History: For the past year and a half, Dell has worked as an overnight Junior System Administrator for a health insurance company. He works three twelve-hour shifts a week and is alone for most of his shift. He sometimes gets called in on additional nights because they have trouble keeping other overnight personnel. During college he worked part-time at a call center for a prescription drug provider.

Skills: Dell spent two years on his high school wrestling team, and although he was never one of the top wrestlers, he has an above-average ability to defend himself. Dell is fairly handy with carpentry tools and general household maintenance. Dell can pick basic locks, especially padlocks. He can juggle, although nothing fancy. He spends a lot of time reading and trying to teach himself things.

Phobias / Fears:  Fears rejection and feeling unwelcome. Fears losing his temper. Fears failure, especially financial failure.

Good Qualities:  Dell is loyal to his friends, perhaps to a fault. He is good with money. He is trustworthy. He rarely drinks and does not smoke.

Bad Habits / Vices: Tends to close off to people when he is angry, often frustrating people who do not know what they have done to upset him. He is easily upset when people discount his opinion because of his age.

Quirks: Keeps a drawer full of wooden pencils that he can break when he is angry. Reliant on the wifi connection from the sandwich shop for his Internet.

Goals and Motivations: Dell values his independence. His biggest motivation is to remain employed and able to keep his apartment and live alone.  Dell’s older brothers have tended to be, in his opinion, unreliable and overly needy, with one or more of them moving back home due to job losses, divorces, and other mishaps. Dell also wants to contribute something to the world, which is why he helps maintain the shrines with Zeke.

Favorite Food: Oranges, preferably Navel and Valencia oranges . Dell usually eats five or six oranges a day. He also eats a lot of sandwiches due to his proximity to a sandwich shop.

Favorite Music: Dell is fond of indie rock bands, especially Wilco and My Morning Jacket. He also likes some older country/folk musicians such as Townes Van Zandt, Woody Guthrie, and John Prine.

 

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo

It is about a month and a half until National Novel Writing Month. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel over the course of the month of November. I have taken up the challenge five times, and have completed it twice, only once coming up with something I actually considered a novel. This year it is my intention to compete again.

In the past, I haven’t overly prepared for NaNoWrimo. The most prepared I had been was when I had a list of characters and a general idea of their relationships and “secrets”. The least prepared I have been is when I literally sat down on the second day of November and began to type with only a vague idea of who two characters were.

This year my goal is to be as prepared as possible. My goal is to have the following

  1. In-depth character descriptions for as many characters possible.
  2. A list of themes I want to explore.
  3. Descriptions of all the key settings.
  4. A map of the character relationships.
  5. A general plot outline.
  6. If possible, a highly detailed plot outline with a breakdown by chapters or beats.

The plotting represents the biggest challenge for me. Plots are my weak point. I tend to start writing with very little idea of where my characters are going to end up. I then struggle to have things happen to them.

This year I have a bit of an advantage over previous years. I already have a good idea of who the two main characters are and what the backbone of their relationship is. This is a key difference between this story and some of my previous stories. Most of my previous stories have started with a single protagonist who starts, essentially friendless and as an outsider. This story is going to be more about a friendship. While the characters have only known each other for a few months, they are already quite close by the time the story starts. This should relieve some of the weight of having to introduce a character, one by one, to all the other characters in the story. The two main characters have known each other long enough to have a good idea of each other’s habits, strengths, and weaknesses.

Another advantage is that I have decided to once again set my story in the fictional town of Santa Creda. I have already spent a great deal of time fleshing out this location. Although I don’t intend for  the characters to frequent the same exact places as those from my previous story, the general atmosphere of the town, as well as its landmarks and politics, will remain the same. A few of the previous characters may also leak over into the new story, although I don’t have any specific characters in mind yet. They are still in town though, so you never know who might show up.

When it comes to plotting, I decided to give myself a bit of a crutch. I am setting the story during the Christmas holidays, which provides a natural backdrop of events that can be explored by the characters as they progress.

As I work through my preparations, I will post some of the pre-work here, along with my thinking behind how I approached these things. It should be fun.