Friday, April 27, 2012

How I Write 'immortal' Characters

By Dano

My long-lived characters (because nothing except Gods are truly immortal and I won't write a God) have all been ordinary people. They are not kings or heroes or even particularly honorable, just people with simple goals, human failings, and several or more lifetimes of experience to draw from. Their minds have been exposed to multiple cultures for extended periods of time, and have integrated into them. Mostly however, through their own ingenuity, they have survived.

Vampires who murder, like Mundanes who murder, are generally caught. The difference is that a vampire won't get a fair trial. One has only to look at history to see this, as many corpses were dug up as lately as the nineteenth century and 'staked' into their coffins to keep them from wandering about at night. There was no more evidence against them than an outbreak of illness shortly after their death. Imagine if a tight knit society of that time were confronted with actual ex-sanguinated corpses, mass hysteria would have ensued. To survive any length of time they would have to have evaded detection throughout history, would remember, and probably would not change their habits quickly. Even in a modern, open society they would stay in the shadows.

A long lived character in any position of power would also be noticed after a few decades, let alone centuries, unless he changed identities. One has only to look at the likes of Dick Clark or George Burns to see this, Mr. Clark for his youthful appearance and Mr. Burns for his longevity. (Both men have sadly passed, but what's up with Bridgette Bardot?) They would not only have to integrate with changing societies, but remain transparent to them.

I accomplish this by placing my characters at the fringes of society where a little weirdness and changing identity would be overlooked. They have occupations that require travel, or anonymity, or both. In short, they appear as regular people with a few odd habits until you get to know them. 

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