Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Building a Character

One of my most compelling female characters was Rayne Holland of IN MY BEDROOM. It was the first time that I attempted to do a psychological story--really get into the mind of a character who stood on the precipice of sanity. There were many questions I asked myself about what would cause a person to develop a split personality or become bi-polar. The answer that I settled on was a traumatic sexual assault. To up the ante I made that assault an incestuous one.

In looking through the stacks of papers that I have in my makeshift office, I ran across the original handwritten notes that I used to build Rayne Holland. From these notes an unforgettable character was born.

Rayne Holland:
Raised in her early years by her father. Mother died when Rayne was eight, the result of a weak heart, weakened further by the pregnancy and the ensuing years. Rayne always felt the loss and a sense of guilt--heaped upon her by her father. She felt at fault and believed she had to "make up" for her mother's loss.

Rayne was in desperate need of love. Father, in his own twisted grief begins assualting Rayne (who looks just like her mother) shortly after her mother's funeral and continues to do so until she is almost sixteen and her remarries (Edith). Although Rayne was terribly ashamed she felt this was maybe a way to "please" her father--get him to love her. Inside she knows it is wrong and in an attempt to deal with her self-hatred and guilt her personality fractures.

Edith suspects what is going on. Convinces her husband to send Rayne to live with his sister--in an attempt to protect Rayne and her marriage.

Rayne grows up withdrawn. Becomes absorbed in books, reading, television and movies. Ultimately gets a degree in film.

The nature of her work as a filmaker is reflective of her reality/personality--all fabrication. Making something out of nothing--creating an imaginary world. This is where she can bloom and feel almost human when she is creating.

She has successfully buried the assaults deep in her subconscious and it is not until a life-altering accidents takes place that the demons begin to rise to the surface and the two personalities begin to battle.

Well... that's how I began to build Rayne Holland and took her on a journey of self-discovery and healing.

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