Saturday, July 19, 2014

Back Stories: Beverly, Roland and Ella

I have finished draft 2 of my short novel Beverly and now have a checklist of things I want to fix and enhance for draft 3 which I hope to have ready for my proof-readers - er, I mean my friends, in a few months time. Exciting! For me.

We join Beverly's story as she and Ella - her old friend and flatmate - have a falling out that threatens to end their friendship. A deal is struck over their crisis but as the story unfolds, resentments come to light and Beverly faces the unknown, watching her carefully structured life unravel in every way.

The three main characters meet in college and though there are flashbacks to this time, the story is set in present day. I have written the below biographies to share more of these characters with you, since posting character descriptions back in March. Most of the information here will not be in the book as it's irrelevant to the story but back stories help grow characters in the mind of the writer, so I thought it would be fun to share them.


Beverly went to a large school in a small town. Her parents were religious and older than the other children's parents. They had a quiet house and Beverly found school overwhelming; All the noise and talking, she felt rushed and preferred to play by herself. But her parents and teachers were concerned and so she made an effort to be amongst other children on the playground. Her first memory of stuttering was asking to go to the toilet during class. She remembers the other children's curious eyes and a worried look on her teacher's face that pushed her glasses down her nose. Beverly felt ashamed but she pretended she didn't mind. She did well academically and tried to keep her parents from worrying or praying more! She didn't believe in God, and even young, she was surprised by faith.

Luckily, Beverly thought, she never had to change schools and be the new girl. She was part of the old gang in her school, as new children joined. Never confrontational but sometimes sarcastic and funny behind a teacher's back, Beverly was accepted, a bit like a pet, to be looked after. Finally she found a way to express herself, online, as gaming communities and chat rooms were growing. She became drawn to coding sites where she could compete on programming problems and convinced her parents to get her a computer.

School discos were a particular hell for Beverly who would try to fit in by hovering around a group of girls she knew. Until she discovered how easy it was to entice boys - not the gorgeous looking boys but the ones to the side, like her. Words were not needed - only a look that held an offer. Though she enjoyed the moments of relief in french kissing, she never had an actual boyfriend.

Instead, she dreamed of leaving home, creating her own, independent life without having to perform or pretend. Going to college was the first step. And there she met Roland and Ella.


When Ella was a little girl she went to a talent school during the holidays and danced on stage. She loved making people smile and she loved to be charming. It made her feel kind and good. She grew up with three older brothers and played with their cars and soldiers and later with their games console. She discovered coding through a games community and when she worked on coding problems, found it made her forget about other things so afterwards she would have a feeling of peace. Being behind a computer became her quiet time which was a relief from her otherwise fast-paced, sociable life.

Ella fell in love when she was 15. She was taller than most of the boys in her class, including her boyfriend. People made funny comments about it and she wasn't sure if it bothered her. But she really liked him and forgot about it after a while. They lasted a year. Ella would say he was jealous and cramped her style. But really she fancied Ron, who had joined her school mid-year. He was funny and became popular quickly. When he asked her to go for a walk after school and then asked her in the park if she wanted to go out, she thought her life was falling into place. They hung out with their friends and went to the cinema. But he was mean to her in private. She thought he misunderstood her so she tried to be more sensitive. But when they became sexual he said things to put her down - like that she was self-centred and if she had short hair she would look like a boy. She watched a TV programme about abusive relationships and realised this was a bit like that. So she tried to help him to see what he was like so that he could be happier but instead she became more miserable. Ron broke up with her just before the end of school dance. She saw it as her failing for a while but over time, her mind kept presenting the facts in new ways until she realised it wasn't her fault. She decided to keep things casual from then on and only date the less serious types. As a determined party girl, before college she bought new clothes and got highlights in her hair. She wanted to be a glamorous computer programmer. That would be her thing. 


Roland is from Amsterdam. Like Ella, he has three older brothers, with a 7 year gap between him and the second youngest, Eric who was the rebel of the family, skipping school and getting involved in drugs. When Roland saw him high he would think Eric was the same but different and it would upset him. There were bad fights at home. Eric talked about making documentaries but as Roland grew he began to hate Eric's carelessness with his own life and the pain he caused. Instead he looked up to the two older boys - the twins - and tried to be included with them, acting older than his years. When Eric died in a motorbike accident, Roland went to live with the twins for a time, while his parents tried to reconstruct a healthy living environment for him. Later on, Roland's father, Peiter, told Roland that he had been like Eric when he was young. His father, Roland's grandfather had died a soldier on duty and a psychologist told Peiter he was acting out as a result of not having a father - to express the pain of missing his father. After that, Peiter took an interest in psychology and that became his profession. Peiter said he should have been able to save Eric. Like his dad, Roland also has an analytical brain and likes solving problems. He applied his to computers.

Roland was an earnest student who kept an amicable distance from his class mates and was a bit too intense for girls. As a good looking boy he was able to take their interest for granted and unfairly belittled their attention, but he had a crush on one of the twins' girlfriends and eventually dated her younger sister, Tabatha, who was 2 years his senior. They had an on again - off again relationship. Both cheated on the other and Roland was torn between a restlessness and a desire for security. Tabatha broke up with him when she finished school. Roland's parents decided the best thing for him would be to start somewhere new and he was sent to live with his uncle in London. There he went to college and met Beverly and Ella.