Don’t expect eloquence and dramatic insight from your character profiles at the beginning. It may happen now, or it may happen later. It’s simply a tool to get you started, and to help you understand your protagonist before you’ve already written 100k words.
And yes, my new book’s notebook really does have a fuzzy hedgehog on the cover.
Greek summer’s romantic lessons on music, love, and the beauty of imperfection…
Protagonist: Stefanie Petros
Like all Greek girls, she is named after a grandmother. Since Stef is the first (and only) born child, she is named for her paternal grandmother, and takes her father’s first initial as her middle intial (no middle name) P- for Panagiotis – dad’s known as “Pete”.
Stef’s last name, Petros, means “rock.” She is extremely disciplined and can’t understand how other people can be so “lazy.”
She grew up in a suburb of Boston but when a famous professional flutist “discovered” her at the tender age of 13, she was invited to study privately in NYC and so her parents sacrificed, changed jobs, and moved the family to a 2-bedroom tiny apartment within a few metro stops of her teacher’s school.
From age 13-15 her mother home-schooled her while Stefanie took a 30-minute daily lesson with the professional’s grad assistant, in preparation for her weekly 2-hour lesson with the master. She practiced scales and warm-ups for the first hour of every day, then studied with mom until lunch. After lunch she prepared etudes by memory and then performed each day’s assignment at her 3:15pm lesson in a musty practice room in the conservatory.
Sometimes the lessons would end on time, but usually they ran over until 4pm when the next student was scheduled. Occassionally they’d run even longer if she’d been particularly good. The TA would sneak in duet music for sight-reading and Stef was particularly fond of these sessions because she was an excellent reader.
Stef’s mom wasn’t quite as fond of the “late days” though, because Anna still had to prepare the family’s dinner and then coach Stef through the rest of the her day’s school work.
Stef loved it when her dad would get home from work. He’d always pretend Stef was a visiting guest and ask her questions like she was famous or royalty.
After two years’ daily lessons, the master had Stef play for one of his “colleagues.” He asked her to play the 3rd movement of the Mozart Concerto in D – a technical challenge which also showed off her beautiful tone.
The “colleague” turned out to be a representative from a famous flute maker, and the company offered to schedule Stefanie for a preliminary concerto performance with a 2nd-tier orchestra. If things went well, they would underwrite a larger venue, and also consider a US tour.
Things indeed went well for young Stef, who at age 15 performed with the Hartford Symphony – close enough to her native Boston that old friends, and most importantly her first flute teacher were able to visit and see her perform.
When the flute maker’s contract came through for the full tour – along with a brand new custom-made instrument – her family’s Greek connections appeared to dress and ornament her.
Mr. E. sent a stunning gown. [amend later to a local fashion shop] The shoe maker sent designer heels, and the jeweler loaned a diamond tennis bracelet and choker, in exchange for promotion in concert programs.
Stefanie had dark brown hair, though she loved the idea of someday getting highlights. She inherited her father’s brown eyes and olive complexion, but her mother’s tendency for cynacism and snark. At least inside the margins of her own head – she rarely spoke out loud unless directly questioned.
Stef is far more comfortable in the practice room than under the lights, but her rigorous preparation makes certain she never misses a note.
Because stage lighting is incredibly hot, she doesn’t wear perfume, or even scented deodorant during performances, but each night at bedtime she applies (sparingly) body lotion to her legs and arms.
She is 5’4″ tall, but most people assume she’s taller because she is never seen without heels (this is after she begins touring from age 15 to the present at 23).
A slender 120 pounds, she’s neither anorexic nor chunky. The girl loves pasta and cheese almost as much as the flute and music. Stefanie has strong leg muscles from walking to and from school each day, and toned arms from so
much many hours holding up the flute.
When Stefanie is playing, people notice her beauty. They see the sparkle of diamond bangles. They feel enveloped by her flute’s tone, and impressed by the speed and agility with which she performs.
But when the flute is in its case, they notice her eyes and her hesitance (and even timidity) to speak.
Stefanie is hyper-critical of others, including the grad students who coach her each day on a rotational basis. Despite their extra near-decade of
ma growth, they possess only a portion of Stef’s maturity.
She never points out these “flaws” – but keeps count in her head at all times. Always keeping score.
That’s it for today, folks. All the typos (misspellings and variation in verb tense) are intentionally preserved from the original handwritten draft.
Personal observation: I’m not entirely sure Stefanie is a sympathetic protagonist yet, but I’ve got to love her because parts of her are me. Not the best parts, of course, but the least likable ones, and that’s nobody’s fault but my own. Hopefully I’ve grown out of most of that BS by now, but if not, then I’ll simply hope to solve it by the time the book’s published 🙂
If you’d like to download the Character Profile worksheets I created for my students, you can get them HERE for FREE!
I’m glad to have you along for the journey, and I’d love to hear about your writing project in the comments below. Wishing us both the BEST YEAR EVER in 2015!