Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Western in 30 days, Day One (.5)

In the little time I had today, between client meetings and dinner appointments and so on, I bashed out the protagonist's profile.

Matthew Stryker

Tall. 6’2”

Well built. Broad shoulders, thick body, muscular legs, walks leaning slightly forward as if pushing against fate.

Scarred face. Left eye socket crushed by Jake Cahill’s lead-filled fist. Tears leak from the damaged socket continually.

Clothing. Wears gray, clothes and hat. Tends to blend with any background. Flat-heeled boots in the Hessian style made popular by the Duke of Wellington.

Judgment of good and evil tends to be black and white, although Stryker is fully aware of human frailties.

Love interest. Catherine de Merode, born to a prince’s family in Belgium, now a thoroughly capable Western woman.

Weapons. Stryker carries a .44 Colt SAA, a Winchester ’73, and a 4-shot Roper 12-gauge shotgun.

History: Like Abe Lincoln, Matthew Stryker was from Illinois. His was not an easy life, and he left home to make his own way in the world when he was fourteen. There were just too many mouths to feed and the Stryker farm could be run well by his partially crippled father (war wounded) and his two younger brothers. The girls would not be old enough to marry for another ten years or more, so Matt’s ma slipped him ten dollars from her hideaway stash and pointed him downriver, saying she had a cousin named Dick Hunt who worked at a ranch owned by Montford Johnson in the Indian Nations.


Stryker never found Dick Hunt, but he found a job with Ed Mott’s freight train, one of the last to use the Santa Fe Trail. At first, he helped herd the extra oxen, then he began riding out in front of the train as it moved onward. A mountain man named Ned Gump taught Stryker how to hunt and how to scout, and soon Stryker was Bump’s partner. They ranged far from the painfully slow train, but always came home with meat for the cooks to serve the hundred and more men who walked Mott’s Murphy wagons from Independence to Santa Fe.

But railroads came in the ‘70s, and the era of the long haul came to an end. Ned Bump retired to a little cabin high above the Uinta Basin. Matt Stryker, pushing 20, joined his friend Fletcher Comstock in Virginia City. Prospecting didn’t work well for Stryker, but his comportment during a standoff between town marshal Tom Easter and a group of outlaws headed up by Roy Bob Jenks earned him a job as Easter’s deputy.

From that time on, Matt Stryker began to build a reputation as a no-nonsense lawman/gunman.

Reputation: Tenacious. Dangerous. Straight-laced. Fair. No give. Tough. Smart.

(more to be added as characteristics become visible)

4 comments:

  1. walks leaning slightly forward as if pushing against fate - I love this

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  2. Thank you, Joanne. The more you write about certain characters, the more layers you're able to peel off, as Kathleen says. Lots of fun. A load of day-job work to do this week, but I'll hustle with Stryker's Bounty, too.

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  3. The layering is important. No scene or character comes fully formed - they're built up in layers over time. You show this very well!

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