Blue Lines, Character Study, divorce, Jay-Z, Kenneth A Suffern Jr, KYW, psychology, UNC Chapel Hill, West Side Story
Character Development Exercise…
The following are partial (censored) excerpts of Blue Lines protagonists KYW’s character Development Worksheet(s).
* Given Name:
Key, Key-Key, Keep (Renee calls her that, because it is easier than incorrectly pronouncing her name), Love (well only Blue calls her that).
– gender Female
– age 18 years old
– height 5”8’
– weight 115lbs
– hair color/style long shoulder length hair usually out and seldom in braids
– eye color Brown
– makeup rarely
– clothing style usually sweats, since she is at school, or a hoodie and jeans.
* Race/ethnicity: Black/Filipino American
Make sure to keep in mind:
– How did your character get here from there? She had shipped her belongings and school supplies the same day that she flew into North Carolina. She packed enough belongings to hold her over until her boxes arrived.
– What was their life like before the story began? She had no complaints until her grandfather fell sick, and she spent most of her time tending to him. She had previously not had a family member deathly ill or sick, therefore she was very saddened by the cancer that had spread through and racked his body. She was told that death was imminent and spent every moment that she could by his bedside. She considered delaying her entrance her freshman year, or going to a community college to stay in proximity to him and her family.
– What was growing up like for them? She enjoyed her childhood, but still was affected by the stigma of a divorced family. She spent most of her time with her mother, but would often visit her father and his family. She did enjoy her father picking her up and taking her home when she played soccer in middle school.
– Did they have a good or bad childhood? Regardless of the challenges (many she was unaware of) she would emphatically say that it was a very good childhood.
– What struggles have they had, or hardships they have overcome? Her mother (twice) almost lost her house, and their car was repossessed once, as work was not as easy to come by for her mother as it was for her affluent father. But she had a close-knit group of aunts, uncles, and grandparents from both side who were always around for support. And although they were divorced, her father would not let anything bad happen to his firstborn child.
– Has their life worked out like they expected? Still expecting, idealistic, and young, actually too young to know.
– Were they forced into their current path, or are they here by choice? Choice
– Do they have regrets? Prior to the story of this phase of her life beginning, her only regret was that she had not yet been in love. Although the fact did not concern her often, she would randomly soul search and wonder whether her “standards” had led her to miss out on love.
– What special circumstances have made them into who they are today? At an early age KYW learned that just because her father could give her everything her heart longed for, she chose to live with her mother. And in living with her mother, she would forego many of those things because she did not want her mother to feel inadequate because she could not offer her what her father could. She learned very early that physical possessions are fleeting, but family and love of family are much more important. She learned perspective at a young age, for the most part. She also learned that experience is a great teacher and adversity builds character.
* More thinking or feeling?: She is a feeling person. Though her major (Psychology) will require analytical thinking, in life she reacts/acts based off of her emotions. Sometimes that reliance causes her to say things she should not.
* What do you see is the biggest contradiction(s) your character lives out?: she projects the façade that she is in complete control of her life, but she is not.
* Tends to be self centered? Yes, with those close to her. Selfish? Tremendously selfish, but she is oblivious to her selfish acts most times although she hurts the people she loves because of her selfishness. Selfless? She is selfless when she helps people she does not know (charity).
* Favorite and hated foods/drinks:
Starbucks Frappuccino drinks, orange juice, – tomato juice, Brussels sprouts, vanilla,
* Education or important learning experiences:
College Freshman (Psychology Major), death of her Grandfather was the first family member that she was cognizant of their death.
* Most hated activities:
* Most enjoyed activities:
Sleeping. Writing in her journal. Running. Talking to her mother. Talking to Azul. Reading.
Who is your character’s hero, or who do they admire or emulate? Primarily her mother.
– self – she feels that she can be a better person
– friendship – everyone needs good friend.
– love – love is a very important concept in her life, but when the story opens, she feels that she may never experience it. She has had boyfriends in the past, but knew through every stage of the relationship that she did not love them. She also knew that other than their current relationship, they had no future ahead of them. Although love is important to her, her parents were divorced and she does not believe she will actually find love.
– Family – the most important part of her life. She loves her family dearly.
– Marriage – would like to get married, but accepts that it may not happen. She does feel that if she gets to the point of being asked, she will only say yes if she believes that they indeed have a future.
– country – needs work. Politicians are full of shit.
– the world – needs to be taken care of, and it’s people. She feels leaders of other countries are just as full of shit, but try to put themselves across as higher than thou, in relation to Americans.
– religion – She does not believe in organized religion. She feels that it is a farce, another form of business. But she is a member of a church at home in Sacramento, and attends when she is home. As she describes, there is no room and she still sits on the floor.
* Political philosophy:
– public causes supported/protested: Walked to raise money to feed homeless, HUD, Cancer (it seemed like any walk for cancer after her grandfather was diagnosed), March of Dimes.
– politically active/apathetic: inbetween. She has planned not to missed any elections through absent tee ballot. She feels strongly, but does not yet know how to act.
* Catchphrase that defines their worldview? (examples: “What goes around comes around.” “Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse.” etc.): “Physical possessions are fleeting, but family and love of family are much more important”
Closest friend(s): Azul Louis
* Job/career/occupation: Student study to become a Psychiatrist
– Attitude towards job: None, has not worked yet.
* Noted accomplishments: Who’s Who of high School Seniors
* Favorite music or group/favorite TV shows or films: Jay-Z, Westside Story
Your character has the chance to meet someone with whom they can have the most satisfying love imaginable – the stuff of dreams. Sadly, they know that in six months the person will die. Knowing that pain that would follow, would they still want to meet that person and fall in love? What if they knew their lover would not die, but instead would betray them? If her relationship had ended due to infidelity, then no, she would not want that chance. [In love, is intensity or permanence more important to them? Neither intensity nor permanence really make up KYW’s love wants/needs, the knowing that she found love has more value for her. How much do they expect from someone who loves them? She would expect the world. Although she feels that she has never experienced it she does have a strong picture of what she believes love to be and an inkling of how it would feel. What would make them feel betrayed by their mate – indifference? Yes, because if there is love there should be no room for indifference. There is a difference between acting indifferent to prove a point, and just not caring, thus is/was it really love? Dishonesty? Dishonesty is just as bad as infidelity, because she would be cheated of something, maybe not sexual infidelity, but mental, etc. There is no need to lie in love. Furthermore there is a distinct difference in lying and not telling the full truth (in the case of a planned surprise for her, a mutual friend’s confidence which may affect her dealings with them, etc.) Infidelity? There is no repairing infidelity. Not only does it encompass lying, indifference to her feelings, and disrespect, it is also the willful knowledge of putting her life at risk.
The manuscript Blue Lines is a fictional period piece, written by Kenneth Suffern, Jr., that takes place at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill between the years of 1997 – 1998. Loosely based on true events, and experiences during that time, told through the eyes and voice of the main female protagonist, a freshman first attending the school.
Always feel free to give your comments, and/or suggestions.