There was a time when I used to be abysmal at writing female characters. I always managed to make them too stereotypical and the character would just sit there on the page, not doing anything. Then one day I woke up and wrote this movie called Derby Double. One of my lead characters was a woman of wealth and means. I had this Emma Peale image in my head. If you remember the Avengers then you remember Diana Riggs who played that brilliant character. The character was a woman named Elizabeth Manning. She is a spy who works for Interpol. She’s smart, sophisticated and has a lot of gumption. She had this knack of saving my Male lead character three times in the movie and along the way, I made her pretty witty too. That was my first solid female character.
Since then I have always tried to look for some quirk or spark with my female characters. For a man to write a female character is never easy. How did I solve this? I am fortunate to have had some pretty strong females throughout my life. The first would be my mother. The second would be my sister and in college, I knew some girls that were strong, independent and women to admire.
In Letters From England, I have come upon four characters that I believe are going to be a treat to write. Rosalyn Atherton- Hall, who shows up at the end of Episode One. This is within the 1990’s section of the series. Rosalyn is Lord Francis’s daughter and much like the Atherton-Hall’s she doesn’t care who she steps on to get what she wants. I know I have a good character when they begin to talk to me. Rosalyn spoke loud and clear and said to me, “Hello, I’m here. Let’s have some fun.” The cool thing about this character is I didn’t base her on anyone. She is completely fictitious. When a character does that for me, then it makes the writing a hoot. Then there is the character based on my Mother. She was slow to develop in Episode two, but she is coming along quite nicely. The third is my sister, who finally showed up in Act four tonight. I wrote this scene between her and Marty. The end result was my sister did something that she would have done to me, when I was little.
The last character is Marty Campbell. I need a separate paragraph for her. I knew who she was, the minute she showed up on the page. Marty didn’t just say hello to me, she brought me to a wild party. Marty is fast becoming my favorite female character in this series. Marty is loosely based on a girl I spent summers in Wonalancet. The ironic thing is when we first met, she and I were like oil and water. I thought she was a snot-nosed brat. I think she sprayed me with a water hose at my house and I didn’t see the humor in it. She did. Then again that was part of her mischievous nature. As time went along and we hit our teenage years, I began to hang out with her more and more and she had grown out of the brat stage and was one of the most interesting people I’ve ever known. She always had a smile on her face. She came to see Crossing The Bridge at the Barnstormers and showed a keen interest in my writing. Later when I moved to Vermont we developed an email relationship.
Some aspects of Marty are not here. I made her a Babe Ruth Baseball Player. A catcher to be precise. In real life, this girl did not have a remote interest in Baseball. There were other aspects of her personality I put into her that were within her character. She could be bold and daring. She was a hell of a square dancer. When she was my partner we would swing the hell out of each other. I think we both liked the head rush. As we swung we had a grand time laughing our heads off. Laughing was one of her greatest attributes. She had a great sense of humor. It seemed no matter what was going on, whenever we looked at one another, we would start laughing. We didn’t know why we just started laughing. Her parents were two of the coolest parents I ever met. Her father had this great dry sense of humor and he was a very reserved and gentleman. One of my fondest memories of this girl happened before my friend Dave’s ice cream party. I met her coming out of her driveway, so we walked down together. As we’re walking, she burst out into song singing Johnny Nash’s, “I Can See Clearly Now.” *(It reminded me of when my mom would wake up in a good mood and just burst out in song.) Out of the blue, I just joined right in. This was not a song that would have come out of my mouth, but when I hear it, that moment is the first thing I think of. One of the coolest things about writing this character is that I feel the real person is right there with me as I create and play with the character. To Marty, may our paths cross again someday.