Characters: Letting them take on a life of their own

Last week, I blogged about taking the Rise of Superheroes and their Impact on Pop Culture.  I’ve really enjoyed learning about this form of literature but I wasn’t really counting on the homework.  Homework!

Last week, I was supposed to be roughing out my World War I book but got hit with a huge rewrite on another book.  Blah.  Sigh.  I couldn’t do both but that also meant that I really couldn’t justify spending any time on this assignment either.  And yet . . .

Step 1 — pick out a deity on which to base a hero or villain.  I love Mesoamerican mythology so I picked one of my favorites.  Xipe Totec.  Yep.  God of the Flayed Skin.  God of agriculture and renewal and war.  Obviously, Xipe is a villain.  What else could he be?

That done, I walked away from the assignment.  Then they gave us Step 2.  Pick a modern issue for your hero (or in my case villain).  Ugh.  Fine.  Whatever.  Identity theft.  Xipe literally wore the skin of human sacrifices.  My Xipe would put on the identities of . . . wait?  What?  Not the every day people being harrased by identity theft?

And that’s when my Xipe started to speak her mind. Yes.  Her.  Unless she’s a he.  Xipe is a shifter so it’s hard to be sure.  But a shifter hero who goes after the baddies by assuming their identities.

And the more I let Xipe develop, the more I realize I will not be letting this slide. She’s in my head and taking on a life I didn’t originally anticipate.  I’d read about people letting their characters speak and always thought it sounded a little hokey but . . . seriously, when a gal wearing someone’s skin decides to tell you what is what, you had better listen.