It’s time to dig back into my mind to talk about my upcoming light novel series From Ashe. Last time, I talked about picking the genre and settling on a main character. Of course, a main character can’t carry a story alone… they, oftentimes, need a partner in crime to go along with them.
That’s why in this second installment, I will talk about the creation of a second main character and then how those two main characters sparked the idea of what kind of world I will build around them.
Second Main Character
In From Ashe, I wanted to keep the whole anime feel of the story alive so I figured that I would create a Japanese main character opposite of Ashe. This is not the first time I’ve done this, though. In Final Hope, Mikomi was the main character which all other characters, save for Mikomi’s father, were American. In A.R. Dragonfly, Amber Ryann is American while the secondary main character, Kaito, is Japanese.
Keeping with that theme, I created Renji Keita to play opposite of Ashe Sawyer. The name doesn’t really have any hidden… I simply picked a couple of Japanese names that sounded good together and went with it.
Now that I had the name picked out, I needed to decide just what kind of character Renji was going to be. I wanted to try something a bit different here. I thought back to how Mikomi worked in Final Hope. He was expressive vocally as well as internally. Mikomi had a lot of inner monologue to his character but he also talked as much as he thought. I wanted to try and make Mikomi seem a bit cerebral and then I thought… ‘What if I did the same but just took away the speaking aspects of the character?’
A character that spoke exclusively in inner monologue was intriguing but there had to be SOME interaction. That’s when I thought of Kaito Akihiko… not the speaking parts of his character but his actual design. Sebastian liked to refer to him as yin/yang head because of his half black/half white hairstyle. Because as such, I decided to take that and spin it into Renji’s personality.
His vocalization is very limited. He will only speak in very short answers, mostly just a simple word or two. His tone will be apathetic which makes you wonder about him. Then, his inner monologues will be a complete opposite of his vocalization. You will get to understand his true feelings by reading what he thinks. A lot of it is going to be painfully obvious to what he thinks about Ashe but it’s meant to build up frustration in the reader. It’s also supposed to make you think and guess as to why he is the way he is and what his true relationship with Ashe is.
Once I had the character established, I decided that Renji would simply just be a friend of Ashe’s but then I started to wonder how and why they became friends.
When I thought about it, I didn’t like the fact that they were friends and not living together. Someone with the personality of Renji wouldn’t like to go out. That would mean Ashe would have to go see him whenever he needed any screen time and there are just so many excuses one can come up with to go see an apathetic friend. So, I changed gears and made Renji her rooommate that lives with her.
That solves the whole ‘going to see Renji’ problem but now it created a new one: why is Renji even living with Ashe?”
When I thought about that, it gave me the opportunity to create Renji’s backstory. As I was trying to create it, I felt that it was straying a bit too far away from tying into the story in a meaningful way. That’s when I decided to intertwine Renji’s backstory with Ashe’s. When I did that, everything began to click and line up perfectly. It gave purpose and meaning to both Renji living with Ashe and his personality as a whole.
A backstory is fine and everything but it needs a world to live in. Now that I had two main characters and their reason for existing with one another, it was time to construct the world of From Ashe.
When I say world… I’m not talking about characters. I’m talking about the physical world. Final Hope took place in the suburbs, A.R. Dragonfly in the city. Now, I’m going to try a country setting with From Ashe but it’s not going to be the country you’re thinking of. No wide-open plains, no farms, no random cows grazing on the side of the road… not that kind of country. I’m talking log cabin in the woods kind of country.
Ashe’s house will be on a narrow road on the edge of a forest. Neighbors exist but their houses are far apart from each other. I grew up in Massachusetts and one of my mom’s friends lives in a city called Southampton. She lives on exactly what I envisioned as the environment for Ashe’s home but not the house itself. Since Ashe is a writer, I wanted to build her home in that typical writer style… wood floors and furniture, a fireplace, maybe the soft amber glow of a candle or the golden rays of the sun pouring into the house. A real writing atmosphere.
So, if Ashe lives in the woods, what would she do for work? She’s just starting out as a writer… there’s no way she would be making a living off of her books just yet. She needs income, she has bills to pay. So, I created a job for Ashe and placed it in the city… but not a big city like in A.R. Dragonfly… more like a normal suburban city. It takes a few turns on a couple of roads to get where Ashe needs to go from her home but once she gets out of the forest, she’s in a pretty developed area where the company she works for resides.
That also got me thinking about the town as a whole. In A.R. Dragonfly, I never gave the city a name. I wanted to leave it up to the reader’s imagination to try and picture where Amber lived. In From Ashe, I will give the town / city a name. It will be a fictional city but it will reside in the United States somewhere. I probably won’t name a state but it will have four seasons so I will still leave it up to the reader’s interpretation as to where Ashe lives.
With Ashe’s home and the area she lives in now established, it was time to weave those elements into the story… and that’s where we will pick things up next time!
In Part 3, I’ll talk about Filling the World, and Creating Side Stories! Until then, think about what kind of world Ashe should live in. Think about what she does for a living, the people she meets, and their personalities. Like last time, let me know your guesses and we’ll see if they line up with what I have planned!