Getting to Know My Characters

Novel retreat progress, 26,085 words. At this rate, I’m definitely not going to finish a novel by Wednesday, but that’s okay — that was sort of a pipe dream, really. If I get deep enough into it now, sort out the plot structure, get to a solid 50K or so, I should then be in reasonable shape to do 3-4K a week in March and April, which should get me a novel draft by the end of the semester. Goals.

Another little character snippet. I like writing these; I get to know my characters better every time I do. 🙂


If he’d been the superstitious sort, Arvind would have thought they’d angered some evil demon. Everything went wrong for them that year, the first year of their marriage.

He was a good gardener, had picked up the knack from his father, who could walk across the fields and have vegetables and fruit spring up in his wake. At least it had seemed that way to Arvind as a child; he’d gladly sat beside Appa and pulled weeds from the vegetable bed, or helped clear stones from a new patch of land, so Appa could plant a few more berry bushes and even a mango tree.

Arvind had set out with confidence to build the same kind of garden for his new bride, something that she could tend and nurture while he was out at sea. But plant after plant failed – it was too hot, then too cold, then too dry, then too wet. This one had blackspot, and that one had blight, and all the applications of neem oil in the world weren’t enough to eradicate the plague of aphids that descended on his tomatoes and eggplants.

Saila told him not to worry, just concentrate on the fishing; they’d try again next season. But then storms came, unseasonable, and he ended up driven onto the rocks, a hole torn in his boat that took weeks to repair. Arvind missed the best season, and was left to chase the dregs. He brought fish home, and to market, but so little that most of their meals were dal and rice, with the occasional roti for variation. Saila was a good cook, and even the simplest of meals, she made tasty. But she grew thinner before his eyes.

When they started losing the babies, and grief drew lines in a face that should have been smooth and laughing for years to come, that’s when Arvind knew. He’d never be the husband his Sailaja deserved. He’d failed her, before they’d had a chance to begin.

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