Monthly Archives: June 2012

Pocket Guide Cnt’d, Inside the Colonel’s Trousers

Last time we looked at what was inside Jillian’s pockets/purse/tactical gear. It was an strange amalgamation of girlie things, useful trade craft and incendiary devices. It spoke to her dual personality and double life. The two women inside that make up her whole. Warrior and woman.

This time, we’ll stick our hand into Colonel David Vaughn’s pants… ahem, I mean pockets. Go ahead, give his ass a quick squeeze and move on….

He’s an Air Force Colonel who’s spent the majority of his life in uniform, in the field. He has very little need for extras. So when David empties his pockets on the nightstand at the end of the day, he takes out a slim black leather wallet. Not too old, not too new, softly worn in. Inside he has his Air Force ID, his driver’s license, his debit card, and American Express. He carries $100 in cash, in twenties and he will empty his coins into a large glass mug every day. He keeps his keys on a simple ring, silver metal with a plain tab. One for his house, one for his truck, one for Ops – it also has a punch-in code – and later on in the series, one for Jillian’s house. He does not carry one for the other team members, Marcus or Bobby D. Hmm… Just sayin’.

His tact-vest is another story. He lives in that vest, survives by it. The site I gave last time:

http://thedonovan.com/archives/modernwarriorload/ModernWarriorsCombatLoadReport.pdf

It lists what soldiers of different unit designations would need. David’s would be the Rifle Squad Leader. He would have the standard fare of grenades, extra ammo, tools, goggles, strobe lights, GPS and SAT phone to connect back to Ops. He packs a Leatherman tool, which is like a Swiss Army knife on steroids and a Maglite flashlight, crazy bright. Get one. The small one still casts a ton of light. (They’re the ones the Scully and Mulder used to hold in their hands when entering all of those dark rooms.) He maintains a small amount a non-tactical items in his crowded yet, available pouches. A deck of cards, wooden matches, and American gum – he was the one that gave Jillian the idea because the local children would always ask. He carries extra tablets of Vicodin that he keeps secret from Bobby D, the team medic, for his creaky aching knees. He used to carry a chocolate bar for Jillian, but it gets too hot and melts so he now carries a few packets of dry hot cocoa. It’s a survival tactic – when the woman needs chocolate, no one is safe.

He also keeps a bandana tied to his strap and a roll of duct tape in his pack. He wears a dingy old khaki baseball cap when on missions and not in regulation Air Force uniform (Spec Ops soldiers often wear non-standard cammo and foreign guns to perpetuate their “non-allegiance” with the US Forces – sometimes called False-Flag operations.) He wears a pair of dark square, aviator shades, with a strap around back to keep from losing them when it gets physical. Jillian loves them because they’re sexy but hates them because she can’t see his eyes.

BTW, Vaughn doesn’t look like Joshua Dumel

Special Operators don’t carry identification or any type of personal trinkets and memorabilia. One, they are ‘invisible’ and work in non-sanctioned missions. Two, those items can be traced back to their families. And three, it creates ‘bad juju’.  While some may think of it as a good luck token, for them it creates bad luck. (I got this off of an episode of the Unit. It may be fictionalized, but it made sense to me). The premise being that the item reminds them of their family back home, makes them careful and therefore unfocused. None of Vaughn’s stuff can help identify him, but it’s personal nonetheless.

So, what does his stuff say about him? Well, he’s a pretty simple guy. Doesn’t need a lot of things to add style or flare – plain wallet, plain keychain. He likes to be nondescript, professionally and personally. He’s practical. The items in his pack are for use. They all have a purpose. When carrying a 50lb rucksack through the rough terrain of Afghanistan or the jungles of South America, you need only the bare essentials to keep you alive. There is no room for amenities. It’s all about what the job needs, survival and life or death.

There a two things there that have to do with Jillian. One is her key on his key chain. They are not lovers at the point in which she gives him a key but, it means that he has free access to her home. She trusts him and he has an open invitation. The other is the hot cocoa. Why would the Colonel, the team leader, carry sustenance for a team member? My point exactly. She’s more than just a team member to him. He sees her differently, despite his denials to the contrary. He cares for her and comforts her. There’s always a small percentage of his brainpower focused on her and her needs. Why? Because he’s in love with her of course!

Each and every person has quirks about what they carry with them. Some more telling than others. It’s our job as authors and observers of human behavior to recognize those small details. They are clues to personality, to our character development. They add nuances and depth. Of course, use these snippets wisely. Never be contrived when frosting your character cake. Be subtle. Like a good perfume, a little goes a LONG way!

Happy observing!
~Indigo Grace

Chuck Wendig, Guru

Found this on my favorite writing advice/all things awesome blog today. Truer words cannot have been spoken.

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2012/06/06/the-secret-to-writing/comment-page-1/#comment-152159

Chuck gives it to ya straight, with a bitch slap for good measure. 
Get over yourself and just do it!
~Indigo

The Pocket Guide to Characters

No, this isn’t a small, tidy little how-to for character development booklet. It’s literally: “What’s in side your character’s pockets?”

Pockets?

My “Soul Mate Critique Partner” asked me a few weeks ago what was in David and Jillian’s pockets? She wanted to get to know them more. I thought about it for a minute and things started to pop into my head. It was freakin’ brilliant! What a fun way to delve deeper into your characters and come up with  more than just lint!

How can the items in your character’s pockets, or let’s say purse or satchel or even tactical gear, in the case of my characters, tell you about who you’re character is? Well, those items give you insight in to the small details, the everyday needs to organizational skills. Are the items handy, decorative, personal tokens? Do the items serve a generic purpose, or are they there for sentimental value?

Women take a look in your purse. Guys, look in your pants pocket, or even the console of your car. How much of that stuff do you REALLY need? How much of it is stuff you keep because you think you might need it? Aside from my orange leather wallet, my Oakley X-metal Juliet glasses, a little notebook for jotting down ideas and my real glasses for driving, I have tons of receipts in my bag, some with used gum in them. Eww. And a ziplock bag of coupons. Yeah, I’m exciting, I know. I have a small bottle of antibacterial gel I never use, un-chewed gum, Chapstick and a Vera Bradley case to hold tampons and some ibuprofen for a headache.  My big secret? I have some borrowed Xanax wrapped in a reindeer Christmas napkin stashed in a small ziplock bag that I got from a friend, just in case I’m at my in-laws for a holiday and I’m about to have a meltdown because my sister-in-law’s demon spawn are crawling the walls. It’s a dicey prospect.

What does all of this stuff say about me? I like bold colors – the orange wallet, but never on my body. I spend good money on things that I know are going to last – the -metals. I try to be good about using coupons, but don’t always get to it . The rest is all practical needs for when out of the house. There’s nothing worse than needing a tampon when your out and you don’t have one. The receipts, I try not to think about, but if I’m honest they’re from too much fast food. I could lie and say it’s just to wrap up my gum but…

So let’s play the game: What’s inside ex-CIA agent, Jillian Craig’s purse? Well first of all, it’s an expensive leather and aligator skin black hobo bag. Just like she doesn’t scrimp on shoes, neither does she scrimp on bags. However, the bag will change to accent her outfit. But this is her favorite one. Inside, she has her make-up bag (hi-end cosmetics, a lot from Europe – bought when traveling), a large wallet with credit cards under an alias. Of course, tampons and condoms for that impromptu liaison because you just never know when a hot Italian man will take you to Milan. In case she needs to skip town on a second’s notice, inside the lining she has an alternate id and passport under a different alias. She has a lock picking set and smaller blade stiletto knife.

What does this say about Jillian? In her personal life, or rather when she’s not on the job, she’s still always on the job. She needs to have items that keep her identity a secret and allow her protection and a means of escape if the situation arises. She loves the finer things in life. She will spend a lot of money for good fabrics, well made accessories and accouterments. She likes sexy men and is no stranger to the occasional fling. While she’ll commit to a life of self-sacrifice for the greater good and a $1000 pair of shoes, she’s less likely to commit to a man for more than a few hours and sexual romp.

How about her tactical vest when she’s on a mission with the Colonel? Well, it’s got lots of little pockets and a backpack for supplies. A kit will normally contain MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), a canteen, 25 grenades and frag grenades. Packs of C4 explosive, detonators, wire, wire cutters, needle nose pliers plus a variety of other tactical gear. Personal hygiene stuff: OB tampons (small and no waste), yeast infection pills and extra elastic hair ties. She carries gum and an iPod, which she’ll often give away to children in foreign countries. The local kids love American gum.
Check out this extensive site for the combat load carried by soliders in Afghanistan. Jillian would be the Grenadier.

http://thedonovan.com/archives/modernwarriorload/ModernWarriorsCombatLoadReport.pdf

The coolest part about Jillian is that she’s a glamor puss AND a warrior. I like the juxtaposition of those two personalities because they’re so incongruous.

Next time we’ll take a look at David’s pockets and see what that says about him. In the meantime, check out your character’s pockets. Or, have fun and take a guess at what your favorite character has in hers. It’s work that feel like play and there isn’t anything that’s better than that!

Dig up some lint!
~Indigo Grace