Author Wil Radcliffe is here today to share some insight about Bringing Characters To Life Through Backstory.
Let’s get on with the Guest Post, shall we!
Bringing Characters to Life through Backstory
Who the hell is Ard Bréag?
If you’d asked me two years ago when I first started writing TheWhisper King trilogy, I would have most likely answered, How am I supposed to know?
But now, after having typed the last words in the final book of the saga, I can tell you exactly who the hell Ard Bréag is.
He started out as a simple plot device. It’s Ard Bréag’s death in the first book that sets up our hero’s ascension to greatness… as well as his fall from grace.
And yet, even though we feel his presence throughout parts of the first, second, and third books, he’s never a full character. Just a name people mention. A martyr. A footnote.
It’s not even until the second book we learn his real name (Lester Briggs), and we learn how and why he died.
But other than his death, we don’t really learn much about his life. That’s because The Whisper King is about David Kinder. Unfortunately for Mister Briggs, there is no room for his story inside David Kinder’s story.
But we feel his presence all the same. The way his death impacts David and his friends. The way the decisions he made as leader of the Lán Croi drive the entire plot. He is there, in many ways as important as the Whisper King himself.
And just because I haven’t revealed much about old Ard Bréag in my books, doesn’t mean I haven’t thought out every detail of his life.
He was born Lester Abner Briggs on October 12, 1860 in Nebraska Territory. When he was six-years-old the Union Pacific Railroad seized his family’s farm through Eminent Domain. When his father and older brother resisted, the railroad hired Pinkerton men to kill them. Now homeless, Lester and his mother went to live with relatives in Chicago.
It was there the shadows began talking to Lester. Telling him how he could get his revenge. How he could grow powerful. How he could serve… the Whisper King.
Lester followed the voices to the Shadow Mountains where he trained with other orphans and castaway children. He learned to find the beast deep inside and unleash it. He became a creature of metal and steam, with Gatling gun arms and burning coals for eyes.
The railroad didn’t just make him an orphan… it made him a monster.
Soon Lester became one of the Whisper King’s most trusted soldiers. He was sent back to earth on many important missions. Assassinations. Robberies. Infiltrations.
Lester Briggs became Oide Bréag. And then Ard Bréag. He rose through the ranks of the Lán Croi until he was second only to the Whisper King himself.
Lifetimes of adventures. Romances on the American plains, in the African Congo, and deep in the Siberian tundra.
I could write books about Ard Bréag. Volumes. Epics that would span 150 years.
And yet, reading The Whisper King you would only know Ard Bréag died… not that he lived.
But that’s fine. A reader doesn’t need to know every detail about every character. Only the writer does. Only the writer needs to have that information tucked neatly in the back of his head. He may never use it. He may never reveal it. But he needs it. He needs it to bring his world to life.
Even a minor character has impact. Otherwise, why would he or she be in the book?
As you write your own books, stories, and screenplays, remember that. Remember backstory. Remember character. Remember personality.
If your world lives for you, it will live for your readers.
So, who the hell is Ard Bréag?
He’s just a character who was born in my mind and died on the page. And in between he lived a rich, full life.
Because that’s what good characters do.
The Whisper King Trilogy Thus Far:
My name is David Kinder. And this is my story… every goddamn bloodstained word of it.
About 25 years ago when I was six my parents died in a car crash. I was bounced around a few state homes until they finally settled me at Meripitt Hill, an orphanage just outside of Lansing, Michigan. It was there that the shadows started visiting me. Not normal shadows. These shadows moved on their own accord, and whispered strange, alien things to me. Scared the piss out of me.
Wasn’t until Donna Elizondo moved to Meripitt Hill that my life started to actually become bearable. She became my best friend. Taught me to love music and to dance. That kept the shadows away. That kept me safe.
That year we were an epic story of two. We danced. We laughed. Hell, I suspect I was falling in love with her, if kids could really know what love is.
But then she was taken away from me. Adopted.
That’s when the shadows returned for me. That’s when they took me to the Shadow Mountains to serve the Whisper King.
For years I learned how to fight. How to kill. I even learned how to transform myself into a Cuthach…a monster. There were thousands of us being trained there. Thousands of us learning to reach deep inside and unleash the monsters in our guts.
When a spot opened in the Whisper King’s elite guard, the Silent Heart, I was chosen to fill it. But first I had to take one final test. A test that would determine once and for all if I was destined to be man or monster.
Find it on: NECRO PUBLICATIONS
Beyond the maddening edges of creation lurk nameless horrors greater than the Whisper King himself. To find his kidnapped daughter and save his hometown David Kinder must face these horrors, even as he tries to untangle a conspiracy that threatens to destroy the Whisper King’s empire in the Shadow Mountains. Along the way he reconnects with old friends, makes new alliances, and discovers that sometimes to destroy monsters you must become something… worse.
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