Character Sketch: Sarah Russell

Part IV- Sarah Russell

“One more win.”

—   Sarah Russell

 The stadium came to life on Sunday. A living, breathing ocean of navy blue and gold, swaying two and fro in the waning minutes before kickoff. The stadium buzzed as the field emptied signaling the beginning of the pregame fervor that the city of Fort Worth was eager to pour into their beloved Flyers. Miller Field hushed as the minute ticked down on the massive LCD screen that served as a scoreboard. They began to stomp their feet as the clock hit five minutes. It was a low rumble reverberated through the earth itself.

Sarah Russell stood in the tunnel below the stadium when Miller Field began to quake. The light from the field poured in, casting a lone silhouette as she stood off to the side leaning against the wall. Sarah extended her arm to prop herself up, feeling sick as she minutes to kickoff approached. This was the only part of the game that she couldn’t control and those sixty minutes were pure torture.

She composed herself as a whoop and holler erupted from the home locker room, which stood just around the corner of the tunnel. Sarah smoothed out her red hair, which was short and cropped around her elfin face, and took a deep breath rediscovering her smile and swagger.

The players erupted from the locker room, dashing out the tunnel in a stampede of blue and gold. They slowed down for a moment as they passed her by, giving Sarah a slap on the hand before sprinting out the tunnel. Some called her Sarah and others Mrs. Russell, but every one of them regarded her a moment as the architect of this team.

Sarah stopped a moment as the coach approached her. “Murph’ we ready for this one? I sure could use a win to get those pricks at the paper off my back.”

She slapped Murphy Deroscher on the back. He was a sturdy old man with a ball cap covering his slow-graying hair and a mustache fit for sweeping the floor. “Maybe you should have gotten a better coach,” he said in a gruff voice.

They both shared a laugh and brief embrace. “No finer one in the league then you Cap. Show them they were wrong about you.”

“Will do,” Murph said. He gave her a salute as he passed by and disappeared into the light pouring in from the field.

Sarah turned around and headed deeper into the stadium. The field wasn’t her arena and saw no need to be seen anywhere near it. She turned the corner towards the locker room when she felt her phone vibrate in the pocket of her neatly pressed black business suit.

She leaned against the wall and punched a few buttons. Sarah nearly sank to the ground when she saw the text message from their public relations department. Alton Miller is dead. Booth brought up for third quarter segment. Is that Ok?

 Sarah put her phone down for a moment and thought about it a moment. She sighed and began to type Tell them it’s fine. Prep me on questions? She walked down the hall towards the elevators, her heels clicking on the concrete floors. Sarah entered the elevator as the stadium broke out into a cheer. Then the doors closed and she went up to the luxury boxes

I’m not  that satisfied with this, but I wanted to post it anyways. Sarah is my main character and much of this story revolves around her. It’s hard to read it over again with an impartial eye because of the amount of time that goes into the research and the emotional and psychic investment I’ve made in this person.

There are some people that can start typing and a character pops up, but to me it’s a flimsy illusion and I can’t get past that when reading other people’s work. In an earlier post I mentioned that it took 80 pages of research and about a month getting to this point. About 75 percent of that is working out my characters, discovering their motivations and how they fit into the overall story arc that I am looking to tell.

Yes this is fiction and yes these are not real people, but that’s the real illusion. You know it’s an excellent character when he or she is being referred to on a first name basis. Think Harry Potter, Sherlock Holmes or Frodo Baggins. The goal is to create that kind of depth and the key to that is two-fold. One, they need the proper motivation and two the writer needs to believe they are a real person in order to convey that to the reader.

Motivation drives a charachter to do what they do within your story and without it they might as well be sitting on their ass and twiddling their thumbs. You may be asking ‘why the hell do I as an author need to believe in the character?’ Well, if you think about it, in every single dramatic problem you set up there are choices to be made as far as what they are going to do next. If you don’t know the person inside and out, backwards and forwards, there’s no way to make the accurate and believable choice.

Remember, when you sit down to write fiction, the author is no longer writing as themselves. You are making choices as the character, thinking as them and if you’ve done your homework it will feel like you are going through it as them.