So, let me tell you a little bit about the character I'm highlighting. His name is Jori Virtanen (that's pronounced Yo-ree). He's a 24-year-old model who hates his job and dreams of being an artist. He's been through some tough times in his adolescence--things that continue to haunt him into adulthood. His friendships with the main character and her love interest change his life.
He wasn't in the first draft of the book. I created him to help with a plotline I thought wasn't quite working. After input from my critique group, I realized he didn't fulfill his intended purpose. I considered writing him out again.
Essentially, killing him.
Refusing to allow him to exist.
I couldn't do it.
The little stinker had weaseled his way into my heart. In fact, he's going to be the main character in the sequel I'm planning for my NaNo project this year. My tale used to have an epilogue, but once I realized Jori needed to have his story told, too, I've since removed the epilogue. It gave away too much about what happens to him.
Here's my main character's first introduction to Jori. It begins on a ship, docked in Seattle, preparing to embark on a 28-day cruise to New Zealand.
... I sighed, standing in the warmth of the sunlight and imagining a run on the treadmill with nothing but the Pacific Ocean before me.
“Nice, yes?” asked a deep voice behind me.
I spun around and couldn’t help a soft gasp. Before me stood the most beautiful human being I’d ever seen. He was a little taller than me, probably close to my age, and must have been a direct descendent of some Scandinavian god with his pale blond hair and light gray eyes.
He raised his hands. “I didn’t mean to startle you.” His voice had just a hint of an accent I couldn’t place.
I searched his shirt for a ship logo. “Do you work here?”
“Me?” His eyebrows rose. “No, I’m a passenger. My name is Jori. Jori Virtanen.”
“Nice to meet you, Jori.” I shook the hand he extended. “I’m Lyn North. Where are you from?”
I blinked. “Seattle? Your accent . . .”
“Ah, yes.” Jori’s smile made him even more beautiful, and I had to squeeze my jaw shut to keep it from falling open. “My family emigrated from Finland about nine years ago.” He glanced at the wall of windows and said, almost to himself, “It will be interesting to do some sketching in here.”
I followed his gaze to the view of the dock outside. “Are you an artist?”
He hesitated. “I hope to be someday.”
I eyed him, curious. In my experience, beautiful people tended to be self-absorbed. Yet he seemed . . . humble. “Are you going to sketch the scenery in New Zealand? Wouldn’t it be faster to fly?”
Jori chuckled. “I do plan to do some drawing there.” A group of people who’d gathered at the salon registration desk outside the gym drew his attention. “I like to sketch people.” He turned back to me. “What better place than a cruise ship for people?”
Remembering what I’d come to the gym for, I asked, “Have you seen any of the staff around?”
“I noticed someone here just before you came.” Jori’s eyes did a quick scan from my head to my feet, and I felt a surge of irritation. After the pain of the last year I wasn’t ready to enter the meat market in spite of what Elle thought. He asked, “Are you interested in some of the classes?”
“I want to see if it’s okay to use that open area by the door.” I nodded to indicate the location, taking a step toward the exit.
One of his eyebrows rose. “Are you a dancer?”
“No, I want it for karate practice.”
At that moment a man entered the gym, and I pointed, “Is that the staff guy?”
“Well, it was nice meeting you.” I raised my hand in farewell. “I need to go talk with him and then meet my friend.”
Jori glanced at my left hand. “Your boyfriend?”
“No.” I edged away. “A girl friend, like a sister.”
“Are you going to the departure party?” he asked before I could get away.
“Uh, yes. For a little while.”
His pale eyes glittered. “Then I will look for you.” He did a little bow and left.
With a frown, I watched him leave. That incredible specimen of male perfection couldn’t have just been coming on to me. I rubbed my temple. No way was I telling Elle about the encounter.
Have you ever had a character take over a story?
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