After finding out that my Write Space competition entry was not due in until February, I shelved it in favour of the Mslexia entry, which is due in three weeks.  But thanks to the lack of a theme, I was stuck for ideas to enter.  Cue Writers Forum issue #111 with just the thing...

That magazine has a lot to answer for - if I am ever fortunate enough to become the Next Big Thing I must make sure it is credited appropriately.

Character is important in any story, and I am the type to prioritise character development over the plot.  Because of this, I am determined to not make my characters perfect and therefore make them believable.  Therefore I spend a lot of time developing them and working out who they are before I throw them into their intended plot line.  For anyone who has looked at the "Character Profiles" section of this blog, you will note that only my oldest character, Krypta Syra, is noted.  This is because I have been developing Krypta since my early teens, and she is very familiar to me.

I have had a very good friend visit me over the weekend, and had to drop her off at the bus station to get her coach home.  As we were a little early we passed the time in the WH Smiths (earlier followers will recall I have mentioned this little shop on a few occasions) and I had the good fortune to spot and purchase the latest edition of Writers Forum.

With my friend safely on the coach and on her way back home, my fiance and I returned home and I did my usual flick-through of my magazine.  I like to have a quick look at my favourite sections before jumping into the magazine properly.  One of these sections is Quick Fix with Vanda Inman.  Occasionally the challenges she sets are fun to try out.  This month's challenge relates to character quirks, and the notion appealed to me.  Initially I just regarded it as something fun to play with later, because I had decided to cook a roast for my tea.  But just as the meat was halfway through cooking, inspiration hit me like an express train, and one of my most endearing characters put himself forward.

Burkins, my shark-loving weeble-like sailor, who I never managed to try and debut in the Wyvern Publishing "Mer-folk" anthology in 2010, is approximately six months old.  But that has not stopped him from developing almost independently in my mind.  Just what is his character trait?  He is jolly, amiable to everyone, hates being called Mister Burkins but is kind enough to explain why, he respects the balance of nature and adheres to the rules of the ocean.  What is odd about him is that he likes all of the creatures of the ocean, but this is far from a character quirk.  At the moment most of you will be thinking that Burkins is a likeable, well-rounded character who is perfect in a way that becomes intolerable after a while.  However, thanks to the latest Quick Fix, I have found a way to write for the Mslexia competition, and to indulge in a bit of character development on the way.

You see, when I say that Burkins likes all the inhabitants of the ocean, I mean all but one.

Burkins hates the Orca (also known as killer whales) with a passion that would make Captain Ahab's obsession with killing his great whale seem like a hobby.

To Burkins, there are Rules.  These Rules (which deserve the constant capital letter) have always been, and always will be.  These Rules, currently only really understood by Burkins, are adhered to by all the creatures of the ocean to ensure the balance of nature is maintained.  At present, sharks act as custodians of these Rules, and Orcas - Burkins believes - ignore them completely.

My story will focus on an encounter, on a rare occasion when Burkins has joined the crew of a whaling ship, with the Orca.  I intend to highlight the darker side to his character, to illustrate what happens if he uses his size and strength to a more vicious end.  I am using examples from Quint (Peter Benchley's "Jaws") and Queequeg (Herman Melville's "Moby Dick") to flesh out the whaling scenes.  These two characters particularly are portrayed as experts in this field, and use methods that Burkins would have avaliable to him.

I would like to point out very firmly that I do not in any way condone whaling.  I hate that it is still practiced in some parts of the world, along with the equally barbaric business of shark finning.  But the theme is appropriate for my work in this story.

Unusually I have even thought up an appropriate title: "The Constant Rules."  It will probably change, but it is still noteworthy.

My brain is swimming with ideas - what a pity that the world is back to normal.  I may have to take one of my notebooks to work with me in case some float to the surface!

HC Clarke :)


  1. Good to see you are kicking off the new year to a good, inspiration-filled start. Your character sounds very interesting, and you've clearly thought through the setting and possible plotlines. I look forward to hearing more from this story :) Will you be showing us the completed story? I'd like to see it.
    I think my WF renewal letter has slipped out of the postman's sack somewhere along the line :( I have not received my new WF yet so I might just have to pick it up instore.
    Good to hear from you :)
    Nari X

  2. Nari, thank you so much for your comment - it made me smile. I might not show the full story, unless it is successful, but there are certain snippets that I might show for now. I am particularly impressed by them. Progress was hampered by the fact that my sleeping pattern is messed up, and then was made worse on the arrival of my new Kindle. but hopefully when the former is sorted out I will be typing away. I certainly hope to be makingn some progress this weekend.

    A lot of post has gone astray thanks to this snow. it might be worth contacting WF to see if your renewal has been sent. Hopefully I will be renewing my subscription at the end of the month :)

    Take care,



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