Today we take a break from the prologues and backstories to give you a quick character sketch. I’m sure you’re all wondering what in God’s name this novel is about, since I never bothered to reveal that to you. The truth is I (that is, writer me, who sometimes disappears for months at a time) never revealed it to myself. I have a beginning and main conflict in mind. As for which direction the novel is headed and how it will get there—that part’s still a little fuzzy.
One thing that is clear and concrete—our protagonist, Mrs. Leslie Fields.
Who is Leslie Fields?
- Leslie Fields is a devout Christian woman and avid church goer. She reads her Bible twice a day—in the morning when she wakes up and at night before she goes to bed—and even more during trials, like the sudden death of her husband, Antonio, or the disappearance of her youngest son, Gregory. Leslie is at church three times a week—on Sundays for early morning Sunday school and regular 11 AM service; on Tuesday evenings for choir practice; and on Wednesday evenings for Bible Study. She is a member of the Prison Ministry, an evangelical team that goes out to the county jail weekly to minister to the inmates.
- Leslie is a mother of two grown sons, born 23 months apart, Tony Fields (as in Antonio, Jr.) and Gregory Fields (our bank robber).
- Leslie is a widow. Her late husband, Antonio Fields, Sr., died of a massive heart attack on Easter Sunday ten years ago, when her sons were 13 and 15. Although she knows that God is always in control and that every test and trial has a purpose, she sometimes resents Antonio for leaving the boys at such a tender age. Young black men growing up without a father— although he didn’t abandon them, get thrown in prison, or murdered in gang violence, the stigma still resonates. She fears Antonio’s death may have affected the boys negatively, especially Gregory, who has made poor decision after poor decision—the latest of them, moving in with his wayward fiancé who has a history of getting around.
Limitations? Desires? What’s at stake? What does she have to lose/gain?
- Since the death of her husband, Leslie has noticed changes in her son Gregory. He had always been sweet spirited and trusting. She believed that as a child, he was sensitive to the spiritual realm, often pausing from playing with his toys to reach up toward the air for someone who wasn’t there, speaking prophetic words at the dinner table, and having full conversations in his sleep. Leslie believed he had the call of ministry on his life, but after losing his father, it all changed, and his humble exterior had slowly been etched away until one day she opened the door to a hard, bulky, scruffy bearded man she didn’t recognize.
- Leslie hasn’t seen Gregory in over a year. Every now and then, she receives text messages from him, usually asking for money, but she hasn’t seen his face or heard his voice since his birthday of last year, when he came to the house needing money to pay rent. She tries not to let it bother her, she tries to put it all in God’s hands, but Gregory is her baby, and she can’t understand why he’s abandoned his mother like this.
- Leslie doesn’t trust Tanisha, Gregory’s fiancé. She believes Tanisha and her family are just using him. They work him like a horse while they do nothing but take. Tanisha herself has said that she doesn’t love him, that she could find someone else in a heartbeat. Leslie wonders if she hasn’t already.
- In the opening chapter of this novel, Leslie goes to the police to report Gregory missing. He was never answering her calls anyway, but now he has stopped responding to her text messages. She’s tried to get in touch with Tanisha with no luck. The last time they spoke, the crazy girl cursed her out, saying she wasn’t Gregory’s babysitter. Leslie had to hang up before she lost her religion.
- Leslie is worried something may have happened to Gregory. She’s not sure what, but a sinking feeling tells her it’s not good. Now she’s more determined than ever to find her son and bring him back home.
This is what I have so far for Leslie’s character profile. As the novel starts to come together, I may update it, possibly for my “L” post (but I’m not making any promises). Hopefully this answers any questions you may have about the subject of the novel, which I realize I still haven’t titled. For now, let’s call it Prodigal Son. It’s horribly cliché, I know, but it’s shorter than “my novel for NaNoWriMo,” and it’ll have to do for now. Until tomorrow then… Happy A to Z-ing!