I presented a draft from 2016 in the last post, of a story I wrote in 1971 that introduced the characters Nick Corwin and Vree Erickson. It began as a high school creative writing assignment that developed into a short story about a boy with a magic typewriter that took him places when he typed his stories on it.
The magic came from a special ribbon that never reached an end or ever dried of its ink. But the person typing had to keep typing for the magic to work. Once they stopped typing, their journey stopped. Thus, they occupied two places when they typed, so it was important that the typist wasn’t interrupted.
The story of a magic typewriter began forming in my mind from the Steppenwolf song “Magic Carpet Ride,” which came out in 1968 and still played a lot on radio three years later. The lyric “Fantasy will set you free,” was my mantra and became the theme of Nick’s travels to Ridgewood (or Ravenwood as I called it back then).
I wrote several stories about Nick’s travels and based it on the question: “What could happen if someone was able to travel to a fictional place and live there?” Teachers, of course, wanted to know why. Was the person unhappy in the real world? Was I unhappy? Did I want to talk to the school’s counselor?
I wasn’t and didn’t. Neither was Nick.
Traveling into a favorite fiction book was an adventure no passionate reader would pass up. Or so I imagined.
Another question was: “What if Nick fell in love with one of the fictional characters?” And my answer was: “Cool! If he falls in love with a character in a book and decides to stay, how will this affect his ‘real’ self who must type to keep his book self there?”
And my final questions were: “How does ‘real Nick’ cope being stuck at his typewriter? Will he write the story, or will it take on a life of its own, taking away his control? If so, could the connection of ‘real Nick’ and ‘book Nick’ become severed, trapping ‘book Nick’ in the story? And what if, on top of all that, there’s an antagonist in the book committed to rain on ‘book Nick’s’ happiness? He doesn’t belong there, does he? What if he’s considered different, dangerous, and an abomination?”
I mulled over Nick’s dilemmas until a friend said in so many words: “It’s fantasy. You control the events. Why ruin a good thing with the pressures of reality? Let him live, love, and be happy in that other world.”
But the logical part of my brain said: “There has to be conflict in story before there’s any happiness.” And so, I began creating what would have been my first novel. It didn’t happen. But it left me with some chapters that feature Vree, so they will pop up here in future posts. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, let’s discuss more about Vree.
• Smalltown girl.
• Few friends.
• Not only privy to a world of magic but can perform her own low-level stuff.
• The belle of my “rural fantasy” stories…
…which I used to call “urban fantasy.” I believe urban fantasy stories don’t have to be rooted in the city and large towns. It can happen in bucolic towns, small villages, and even the countryside. Unfortunately, some people disagree, delegating urban to city and town, not rural or its synonymous cousin: bucolic. A friend suggested I call it “town and country fantasy.” A nice idea because it gives off the laid-back vibe I’ve always had with Town & Country magazine, but only when I skip over the luxury parts of the publication and focus on its leisure ones.
No matter how anyone wishes to label my stories, the magic and weird stuff common with fantasy is not the norm in Ridgewood, and it creeps in at the edges of a world in which magic is mostly hidden. The people who live there have normal lives, except Vree and her friends, of course, or there’d be no conflict otherwise.
Vree was never the center of her social circle until 2013. She stopped being an only child and became the youngest of three children. She and her siblings Dave and Amy were triplets, with Vree the last born and therefore “the baby.” Like most siblings, they fought a lot, but Dave and Amy ended up one-dimensional characters, so I made changes in the new series, and now Vree’s a single child again with just a few friends in Ridgewood. I know it’s a common trope in YA fantasy: single kids with few friends. And it’s one that’s become cliché. But writing and reading about single kids in close-knit friendships in rural fantasy is my favorite cliché to do, and I don’t plan to stop doing it anytime soon.
Vree is highly creative, an artist excellent beyond her years, and one who enjoys working in solitude. Twenty years ago, I bought a book about careers and personalities titled, Do What You Are, by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger, in its third edition, 2001. The book was—and still is—a useful reference for creating character personalities based on 16 personality types. I chose the INFP personality for Vree. INFP is an acronym that stands for Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, and Perceiving. According to the book, a person of this type are excellent artists and do well working in the arts.
Introverted is stage one of the 4-stage growth process of the INFP. This was Vree’s dominant personality, which developed after her birth and stayed her primary personality until she was around 12. During this stage, spending time alone energized her.
iNtuitive is stage two and the secondary personality of Vree’s type. It came into play at around age 12 and has pulled ahead as her dominant personality. It will remain dominant until she is around 25. During this stage, ideas and concepts rather than facts and details are important to her.
Feeling is stage three and will be Vree’s dominant personality until she is in her fifties. During this time, she will make decisions based on feelings and values.
Stage four, Perceiving, will kick in last. Then she will prefer to be spontaneous and flexible rather than planned and organized.
Whether all this is true, it draws an interesting sketch of what kind of infant she was, the person she is now, and who she may be in the future. And if it is, I found it interesting that people with the INFP personality enjoy doing things by themselves … ALONE. This is how I pictured Vree when I created her as an only sibling all those many years ago.
Vree enjoys time by herself because she doesn’t need acceptance. She has friends—a small group of them—but sometimes the best company is no company at all. She isn’t inherently unhappy, either. In fact, she’s self-loving. She likes who she is. She doesn’t like circumstances that keep her apart from her parents and living at home, but she’s level-headed about it and empathetic to her parents’ needs. And it’s those reasons why I like her character so much.
She isn’t perfect—no one is—but she’s aware of that and knows what her weaknesses and strengths are. She works hard to do right—she has a strong moral compass.
You can read her stories at Amazon [https://www.amazon.com/Steven-L-Campbell/e/B00B356PPU/],
and other outlets.
That’s all for now.
This post “Beginnings, Chapter 3” copyright © 2022 Steven Leo Campbell at stevecampbellcreations.com – All rights reserved.