When someone asks for advice on how to develop a character for their story, I often tell them to write slice-of-life flash-fiction about the character. The idea is that by spending time with the character while they do mundane or everyday things, we get to know them a little better.
I’ve done this in the past, but I don’t feel like I did it enough when I started writing the Lost Dogs series, and I wish I had. It’s also been over two years now that I’ve been working on Lost Dogs, and I haven’t really had the need to do any in-depth character development.
Except for Lost Dogs #6: A Break in the Clouds, which is about Paivi, everything I’ve written has been from the point of view of Roy or Alene. By now, I feel like I know them well enough that I can write their stories without any off-page exercises in character development.
However, Lost Dogs won’t always be about Roy and Alene.
Starting with book #11, which I don’t yet have a name for, the story will be told from Toini’s point of view.
I have written stories about Toini in the past, but it’s a long time since last, and I feel like I need a refresher on who she is. As such, I’m going to take my own advice, for once, and start a flash fiction series featuring Toini. Hopefully, it will mean I won’t be fumbling around like a nervous teenager on a first date when I start writing about her.
I’ll be sharing these pieces of flash fiction here on the blog for anyone who might be interested.
The idea is to post one story a week, and that with each of them we’ll get to know Toini a little bit better. The stories will be less than five hundred words, and while there won’t be any major action or excitement, there may be some dry puns and the occasional witty banter.
To start off with, here’s the first piece – a brief introduction to Toini herself.
The Dullest Journey – Part 1
Toini sat at the little table by the window in her cabin. Alone with her thoughts and the darkness. Gazing off into the night outside, without really seeing.
Soon, the light of dawn would paint the clouds below in pink and grey, and a new day would begin.
Soon, but not just yet.
A middle-aged hippie woman in a knitted, grey sweater and green, camouflage pattern combat fatigues. Pale skin worn rough by weather and wind, waist-length dreadlocks in blonde and brown. Blue eyes, thin lips, and a silver-ring piercing in the left corner of her mouth.
Tattooed rose thorns wound their way from underneath the sweater, up across her right cheek, and disappeared into the hair above her ear.
Toini Eleonoora Riveniemi, Holy Paladin of Ek, Commander of The Orange Cream.
Soon, the alarm would go off and tell her to wake up. Tell her it was time to get cleaned and dressed and start getting the day in order. The alarm didn’t care she’d already done all that an hour ago. It’d ring anyway. It’s what it did. It’s only task.
Sometimes she thought about adjusting it, so it rang when she woke up, but so far it hadn’t happened, and it wasn’t like it actually mattered – not for real. The alarm clock was an inanimate object, and it had no thoughts or feeling. It didn’t get upset that she didn’t need it.
A thin smile tugged at the corner of her mouth, and she nodded to herself.
Thoughts like that was why she got up so early. To sit alone and let her mind wander. Entertain the idle fancies that the waking world had no time for.
Once the alarm rang, she’d give herself another few minutes, and then she’d slip into the role of commander and go make sure the ship still flew. It did, of course, or she’d already know about it, but that wasn’t the point. It was just routine.
Go to the mess, grab a cup of coffee, and a have a few words with Helgesson, the chef. Go to the engine room, tell Dipali there was coffee, and let the woman grumble at her for not bringing a cup. Go to the bridge, ask for the reports, and then sit in her chair and watch as the light of morning slid west across the world below.
Soon, but not just yet.
To be continued…