The title of this post, Methinks He Doth Grin Too Much, is a Ranch Pen hijacking of Mr. Shakespeare’s line in Hamlet, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.
Anytime an author wants to feel as though he or she has been stabbed in the eye with a sharp pencil, they head over to Amazon to read the one star reviews of their books. My book The Cedar Tree has racked up three so far with one of the reviews complaining (among other things) that the main character, Gil Howard, grins too much. Which reminds me…I haven’t written a post about any of my characters for a while and Gil will do as well as anyone.
Gil is probably my favorite character. Ladies seem to like him and–surprisingly enough–so do guys. Over the years, he morphed into a composite of many of the men in my life: unapologetically male, strong, confident and competent in his field of expertise…and sadly deficient in the romance department. He is goofy and a kidder who would almost rather take a beating than get mushy, but he has an unexpected streak of tenderness and ends up with a heart for God even though he doesn’t always do the right thing. And he is an optimist who laughs and grins a lot.
Gil has been with me a long time, longer even than my kids. He started out as a dashing fellow named Rory. Here is an excerpt from a previous post, Broken Winged Buzzard Dreams:
I was a teen-ager when I first ventured into novel writing. My first attempt was set in the 1800′s and featured a protagonist named Rory. I forget his last name. He rode a big horse–black, I believe. His love interest was Kate and his story was full of stuff like this:
Rory raced his freshly shod, big, black, shiny, deep chested Quarter Horse horse with four white socks and a blaze face up to the burning wooden cabin and slid to a sliding stop. He jumped off the saddle and ran quickly up to the door burning hotly, vowing to stake the devil who had done this to Kate onto an anthill of ants.
“Help, Rory, you big, strong, very good looking man, you,” Kate cried feebly from inside the burning inferno somewhere.
Oh, goodness! She was fading fast!
“Kate, darlin’!” he cried out desperately. “Hold fast to our dreams, for if you die, they’re pretty much all out the window! Darlin’! Oh, and by the way, throw the kids out to me if they’re still with us…”
Eventually, Rory ended up in the garbage and I didn’t do much writing for a few years. He wouldn’t stay dead, however, and finally resurrected from the ashes of his trash can as a new and better character. Rory’s dumb love interest, Kate, eventually turned into Gil’s love interest, Katie Campbell, of The Cedar Tree.
Once in a while someone will ask what is my favorite part of writing Gil. The answer is his and Katie’s snippy exchanges, hands down. This is one of my favorites from The Cedar Tree:
Gil eyed Lance as he crossed to the door and left. The guy was hopeless. Katie was way too much firepower for him…like a .458 magnum elephant rifle against a BB gun. She’d eat him alive and he’d just stand there and let her.
He headed down the hall. “You need a ride in the mornin’?” he asked through her closed bedroom door.
“No,” she snapped sarcastically. “I can walk. It’s only twelve miles.”
“Okay. Have it your way.”
“Okay. Have fun bottle feeding all those bummers.”
“I could feed ‘em. Any moron can feed bum lambs.”
“While I’m feedin’ bummers, you can build the hay barn.”
“I would, but I didn’t take building lessons from Dr. Seuss.”
“Hey,” he said, stung. “That salvaged lumber might not look so hot, but it’s a good barn.”
“Okay,” he said irritably, “you get on the end of a hammer tomorrow and see how it goes…”
(Eerily similar to some of the snippy exchanges at the Ranch Pen.)
Some writers sketch their characters to keep them straight in their mind’s eye, and many years ago I sketched up ol’ Rory to look like Tom Selleck
. (Not old Grampa Tom Selleck like he is now, but like he was in his Magnum PI days in the last century.
Gil got a sketch a long time ago, too. I don’t claim to be any good at sketching, but here’s Gil as I imagined him–grinning.
If any of y’all imagine him differently, whip out a sketch and send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good. He might look like this:
Or, even like this…it’s all good:
Well, that’s all for today, but to everybody who has told me how much they like Gil, thank you very much. I like him and his stupid grin (as his love interest, Katie, calls it,) too.
Until next time, thanks for reading and God bless all y’all while you enjoy David Wesley’s new one, 10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord).
*This artist doesn’t necessarily endorse my blog, I just love his music