For the two main characters of “The Story,” John and Trishna, I wondered what would they name their plants? What diminutives would they call these little entities that Trishna developed a fondness for early into childhood then shared with John? After these questions popped up, I started to name plants in Viridi as they might name them. When you want to get into a character’s head, a useful exercise is naming something from their perspective.
Spoilers?: Minor [weight of names]
The first screenshot represents how Trishna would name a flower.
In Viridi, I have four flower pots that I can use for this brainstorming exercise, and so in the Apartment, I let “her” name the flowers. Over the course of nearly two weeks, when I would look at the scientific names of the plants as I watered them, imagining her watering these plants, I imagined Trishna naming these flowers real names that somewhat matched their scientific names.
She would name a Sedum morganianum “Morgan.”
In comparison, John had a different flower pot to name his flowers. Over that same amount of time, when I would look at the scientific names of the plants as I watered them, imagining him watering these plants, too, I imagined John naming these flowers nicknames of their scientific names. He would name a pachyphyum fittkaui “Pachy Fitty,” and leaving it at that would be a fun exercise.
But what’s the deeper point of considering these flowers’s names?
For Trishna, flowers were a significant childhood hobby. She probably got into the hobby through her parents as a way to help out around their middle-class suburban house, where they might have grown some foods from seeds. From these experiences, she practiced empathy toward the flowers that she grew, and would name the plants they wouldn’t eat, or maybe she would secretly name the plants they would after bullies at school. I thought of a scene before writing this, so let me shift gears in that direction.
Also, don’t mind that this is more mechanical writing; I’m working out this scene.
John moved into the Lanchester residence after the end of the school year in “The Scene.”
Trishna’s birthday was about a month, on July 11. After he got his bearings into his new environment, he asked her parents what sort of gift he should get for her. He had already known through their years of online chatting that she enjoyed flowers, but he wasn’t sure what kind of gift would work well. They suggested that she would appreciate flowers and recommended a store that she liked going to for picking out flowers.
He goes to the flower store, finds a nice flower, and fast forward to her birthday.
She unwraps the flower gift, immediately kisses John then embraces him, and after expressing elation over the gift, asks, “what will we call him?” For Trishna, and as John learned before this birthday scene, names are an important thing for her to call flowers. She believes that when they have a name, it’s easier to take care of them. She has a few names for her service dog Pollyanna. When needed, Trishna calls her “Lady,” to get her attention, and when she’s not needed, Trishna will refer to her as Pollyanna or any one of a number of nicknames.
Returning to the birthday scene, John might think for a few seconds.
He would then pick up the flower and look at the nametag. The nametag would give basic care information along with the scientific name of the flower, probably that same pachyphytum fittkaui from above, and he’d ask her, “how about something from his full name here?” They would both look at the plant’s name. After some time, where Trishna would slip her arm around John’s back, he might say, “oh, how about Pachy Fitty? Based on Pach-y-umm… b-based on his full name?”
She might then say, “that’s a perfect name for the perfect gift from my perfect boyfriend.”
Let me then cut here to say that while I can craft my way through this scene, it doesn’t quite feel as natural as it could be in my mind. Scenes like this happen frequently between John and Trishna. In order to give this the weight that I feel this and other scenes of theirs deserve, I want to practice with other characters. On this front, I feel that I overall did well with the conversational nuance of characters in Novel 01, and I’m addressing my major self-criticism of incomplete character and setting information in Novel 02.
In that workshopped scene above, there is plenty of basic information missing.
Where are they seated? Are they in their living room? What color is the couch they’re sitting on? Does Trishna have a preferred side? Where is Pollyanna in this scene? How about Trishna’s parents or her siblings? Since it’s her birthday party, how dressed up is this room? How dressed up is John? What does the specific plant look like?
These are good questions to have answered before the writing process.
I don’t look for many elements like that, personally. While it is nice to know that they’re sitting on a couch, I don’t consider the color of their couch to have much value. While a high-quality couch might give worthwhile character details, I tend to value the narrative weight of how characters act and react the most. This is what I appreciate in media and how I find my life is structured. I remember major and minor events in my life through the dialogue rather than what color the chairs are, but still, it’s important to have a holistic view of the scene, so that maybe if you don’t value narrative weight but value more of the visual information conveyed, you can still get enjoyment out of the writing. That’s where it’s important to practice writing different scenes about many different characters living many different lives.
When I’ve explored all of those other names, John and Trishna will be there telling their stories.
|Sources: The Story’s Imaginarium.|
|Inspirations: Besides naming the plants in Viridi? [I started the document where I kept track of their names on May 23, for anyone keeping track.] The scene popped into mind and it was nice enough that I wanted to write it out. I asked IDKFA for naming advice on the local flower shop. One idea was Extreme Flowers, which I riffed on as being called Etreme Flowers because they wanted to follow the “X” in “Xtreme” trends, but failed. The other was Vinnie’s Used Flowers, which he riffed as “It’s like a used car lot, but for flowers. Vinnie is a short stocky dude with tailored pants, a wife beater, and suspenders. He has hairy shoulders, he smokes a stogie, and he sweats like he just came from a basketball game. And like any good used flower salesman, he is very pushy and won’t give you a moment of peace while you’re on the lot. Every flower has a story, and he uses those stories to make the sale.” This idea could fit somewhere into Eville, so I’m including it here for posterity.|
|Related: Essays building “The Story.”|
|Screenshots: Viridi screenshots with the names of the plants I imagined naming from John and Trishna’s perspective.|
|Written On: 2020 June 01 [11pm to 11:42pm]|
|Last Edited: 2020 June 01 [First draft; final draft for the Internet.]|