Merging Similar Characters

Changes, Part 6

During a break from writing, I continue discussing the changes I have made to my Ridgewood characters.

Sometimes it is necessary for authors to reduce the number of characters entering and exiting their story’s scenes. This is a good time to look for characters with similar personalities.

If two characters have similar personalities, and if they serve the same function in a story, merging them into one character often gives me a richer character. By merging characters, I do not mean throwing all their traits into one stew. Otherwise, the result will be a blurry character.

Dave and Kenny

Dave began as my first and major protagonist. My stories were about him and his growth. Then Kenny came who became Lenny; he and Dave shared similar stories.

Except for their looks, Dave and Kenny are interchangeable characters. Look at their personalities.

  • Dave lives a fast-paced lifestyle of extracurricular activities during the school seasons. He is sports active, outdoorsy and loves to hunt. He likes playing baseball, bicycling, and riding motorcycles and 4-wheelers. He is mechanically inclined and is handy at fixing small engines. Since he is the only boy in the family, he seeks out other boys with similar interests.
  • Kenny is a combination of athletic and rugged, curious and adventurous, and thoughtful and artistic. His favorite activity is fishing. He, too, is the only boy in the family.

Dave and Kenny are from similar molds. They are the same age, in the same grade at the same school, and both believe in the supernatural. They rarely disagree on anything.

They may as well be identical twins.

Boring.

So, I combined them into one character, found a name for him that suited him well, and set about giving him a purpose for future stories.

Amy and Trina

Amy became a main character in my stories when I challenged myself to write from a girl’s perspective. Except for Amy’s bright blonde hair & blue eyes, she and Trina were as easily interchangeable as Dave and Kenny were.

Vree’s older sister, Trina Erickson, was a minor character for many years. When she was on stage in my stories, she had interests similar to Amy’s and was a member of Amy’s all-girl rock group ARC. Like Amy, she played guitar & keyboards, so I combined the two characters and made her Amy Erickson, Vree’s musically inclined sister for my 2012 novel Night of the Hellhounds, which I retitled Margga’s Curse in 2014 and Mergelda’s Curse in 2017.

The New Look

Verawenda “Vree” Renee Erickson, 13
The Protagonist

  • The youngest member of the group of teens on Myers Ridge
  • Feels like an outsider who wants to be part of the group
  • Born August 19, Ridgewood PA
  • If this is the first day of the school year, then she is in eighth grade
  • Vree & the rest of the Myers Ridge & Ridgewood teens attend Ridgewood High

Identity Type Profile
Shy, secretive, romantic, sensitive, intuitive; in love with Kaden Conrad

“Can see, hear & do paranormal things, which she hides from others” best describes Vree after lightning strikes her on the day of her 13th birthday & puts her in a coma. She awakens from the coma to discover she has a brain tumor & telepathic powers. Her body emits white light when she’s extremely anxious or excited—a talking white crow named Enit Huw (EE-nit HO-ew) calls her a Luminary. A strange book of magic describes Luminaries as powerful sorcerers/magicians whose bodies produce bright white light.

Horrible headaches, caused by her tumor, make concentration difficult.

Her nickname Vree comes from her initials VRE. Her first name is a combination of Vera & Wenda—her mom’s paternal grandmother was Vera Lewis & maternal grandmother was Wenda Walsh. Her middle name Renee is her maternal grandmother’s middle name.

  • Eye Color: “Green”—blue-green with amber flecks—bluer if she wears white clothing, greener if she wears dark clothing
  • Hair Color / Style: Straight, shoulder length blonde hair parted in the middle—wants short hair for easier maintenance
  • Skin Tone: Light; peach; fair—usually burns, tans minimally
  • Build (Ht / Wt): 5’ 1”—95 pounds; lean, muscular legs, prefers jogging to clear her mind
  • Usual Dress: Prefers casual over dressy—T-shirts, shorts, jeans, tennis shoes; sweats, leggings, heavy socks during cold weather; rarely wears makeup

Residence
31719 Ridge Road (on Myers Ridge), Ridgewood PA

Julianna “Julie” Michelle Conrad, 13
The Best Friend

  • Kaden Conrad’s younger sister
  • Vree Erickson’s best friend & neighbor
  • Born April 27 in Ridgewood PA
  • If this is the first day of the school year, then she is in eighth grade

Identity Type Profile
Motivated by helping others

“People-oriented & fun loving—makes things more fun for others by her enjoyment” best describes Julie. She’s the Caring Best Friend. She has great people skills & is interested in helping others, but tends to put their needs over her own needs. warmhearted, popular, & conscientious—she’s the center of attention in social situations. She can be extremely loyal to her peers & not respectful of laws & rules that get in the way of getting things done. She values harmony & tends to avoid conflicts rather than deal with problems head-on.

  • Eye Color: Blue
  • Hair Color / Style: Straight, thick & long brown hair parted on the right; wears ponytail when playing sports
  • Skin Tone: Light; peach; fair—usually burns, tans minimally
  • Build (Ht / Wt): 5’ 3”—115 pounds; stocky build but not fat, athletic, plays softball & basketball
  • Usual Dress: Prefers casual over dressy—T-shirts, shorts, jeans, tennis shoes; sweats, leggings, heavy knee socks during cold weather; has a sexy side & likes wearing bikinis & tight shorts—thinks her butt & calves are her best features

Residence
32726 Ridge Road (on Myers Ridge), Ridgewood, PA

Kaden Nicholas Conrad, 15
The Love Interest

  • Julie Conrad’s big brother
  • Vree Erickson’s love interest
  • Has his sights set on Vree’s older sister, Amy Erickson
  • Born July 23 in Ridgewood PA
  • If this is the first day of the school year, then he is in tenth grade

Identity Type Profile
Enthusiastic; adventurous; motivated to do his best

“Action-oriented” & “Doesn’t trust other people as much as he trusts himself” best describe Kaden. He is a loyal friend & a risk-taker who lives a fast-paced lifestyle of extracurricular activities during the school seasons. Easy to get to know, since “what you see is what you get.” He is a combination of athletic & rugged, & curious & adventurous. He is sports active, outdoorsy & loves to hunt & fish. He likes playing football, baseball, bicycling, & riding motorcycles & 4-wheelers. He is mechanically inclined & is handy at fixing small engines. Since he is the only boy in the family, he seeks out other boys with similar interests.

  • Eye Color: Dark brown
  • Hair Color / Style: Dark Brown, thick, somewhat unruly & hardly ever combed or brushed, worn long but never too long
  • Skin Tone: Tanned (moderate brown), burns minimally
  • Build (Ht / Wt): 5’ 10”—147 pounds; muscular chest because he swims a lot in the summer; muscular legs because he runs, hikes & bicycles a lot; muscular arms because he lifts weights for football
  • Usual Dress: Casual—Typical T-shirts, jeans & tennis shoes; sweatshirts during cold weather
  • Special Appearance: Has “Holly” & “Always” in a heart tattooed on the underside of his right forearm

Residence
32726 Ridge Road (on Myers Ridge), Ridgewood, PA

Amy Elizabeth Erickson, 15
The Older Sister & Rival

  • Vree Erickson’s older sister
  • The middle child & the shortest family member
  • Kaden Conrad’s love interest & Vree’s rival
  • Born April 23 in Ridgewood PA
  • If this is the first day of the school year, then she is in tenth grade

Identity Type Profile
Exuberant about music

“Strives to excel at music for self-expression” & “Trusts others & needs to be trusted in return” best describe Amy. Music means everything to her. When she is down, she recharges by writing & playing songs on her mother’s piano & on her own Gibson acoustic guitar, “jamming” with her all-girl “rock band” called ARC, or “hanging” with friends. She sings with a beautiful soprano voice.

She is gentle, compassionate, kind & charming too. Generally an easygoing person—most of the time, she is slow to anger, but she has a ferocious temper once it is roused.

She is a people pleaser who sometimes tries too hard to make others like her. She is at her best when she is with her best friends.

She is the center of Kaden Conrad’s attention. She likes him too, but shows it only when she feels he’s losing interest in her.

She is shorter than her 13-year-old sister, Vree, & she looks younger too. Strangers mistake her as the youngest sibling, which rouses her temper.

  • Eye Color: Bright blue
  • Hair Color / Style: Strawberry blonde, long, often braided on the right side
  • Skin Tone: Pale complexion—spends a lot of time indoors; has a slightly freckled nose
  • Build (Ht / Wt): 4’ 11”—90 pounds;
  • Usual Dress: T-shirts with sayings about music, blouses, jeans & skirts, sandals & tennis shoes, open toe & peep toe flats & pumps because “they’re irresistibly sexy yet sophisticated”; & sweaters, sweatshirts & leggings during cold weather

Residence
31719 Ridge Road (on Myers Ridge), Ridgewood PA

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