3 Threats to Character Development, CD1- Meet Lori Winslow
Threats form over the future of the Homeplace
As I (continue to) begin the background work for my fourth full novel (fifth book, now counting the short story collection, "American Centennial") (my novels are 40-50K words - there was also a 25K word novella, along the way) in "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga historical fiction stores, I want to use this venue to share some of my thinking and provide the opportunity for my writer friends to jump in and make suggestions and ask questions about the process, as I go along… if anyone cares to.
I have decided to use "alternating person, third-person, omniscient" point of view in this novel that I was so pleased with in "Back to the Homeplace" - the first novel in the series (still the best novel, in my personal opinion). Although it is said to be harder to write, it seemed to give me the discipline challenge I needed to write well. I lacked some of that in the second novel (again, my opinion) and I got some of it back in the third ("Christmas at the Homeplace" is also a good read).
In the original, I used five alternating characters, as I recall. For "3 Threats to the Homeplace" (working title) I will be using 6. This series of occasional Character Development articles will start with these 6 characters. I want to review what they have done in the stories to date, describe and discuss how much they have been developed, and then begin to lay out their role in the upcoming novel… how their character will begin, and then change, during the novel.
So, today, we start with Lori Winslow, one of the six.
Lori Winslow in earlier stories
Lori Winslow was the oldest daughter of Jason and Karen (Bevins) Winslow. She first appeared in Chapter 9 of "Back to the Homeplace" where each of the four Winslow children were introduced. This was in the spring of 1987. Lori was introduced as having been a flight attendant out of LA for three years. Her mother made the comment: "Lori was fully enjoying the many contacts she made with her airline job," among other things. She next appeared in Chapter 2 of The Homeplace Revisited, set in the summer of 1996, where her mother commented: "Lori still works out of Los Angeles as an airline flight attendant and seems perfectly happy with her life there." Later, in Chapter 16, Lori calls Karen and says she is coming to visit over the Labor Day weekend, and requests a room at the Homeplace Heritage Inn, which Karen is pleased to reserve for her.
Lori arrived by driving in from the Springfield airport. Karen gave Lori a bit hug. Then, "Karen knew her oldest daughter was about the same size as she was, but it was almost like looking in a mirror twenty years earlier." Later, as they were going over plans for the Labor Day meal for their guests, Lori had fallen right in beside her mother, the two working side by side. As Lori is leaving for the airport to fly back to Los Angeles, Karen says, "I really do miss seeing you,…if only you could come more often, and stay longer… I feel like I'm missing a piece of myself, when you are not around." Lori responds, among other things, "I'll see what I can do. I'll see you soon." This is early in September 1996.
"Christmas at the Homeplace" opened in Chapter 1 on October 22, 1996. The stage is set for the involvement of Karen's children and grandchildren with this paragraph:
"Matt was Karen's oldest son, now 34, and Kevin her youngest at 26. The girls, Lori, 32, and Erin, 29, had come to her and Jason in between the two boys. Matt and his wife, Susie, had moved to Oak Springs from the Boston area earlier this year, in time to get their son, Tyler, enrolled in first grade. Tyler's little sister was three-year-old Emily."
Karen, is talked to her friend, Virginia, and says, "I talk to Lori about every week or ten days, depending on her flight schedules. She knows I like to know where she is." The paragraph continues: Lori became an airline flight attendant right out of college. Based in Los Angeles, her flights took her just about anywhere her airline flew. "It's been a couple of weeks since I talked to Erin, actually… I should give her a call, get the latest on her pregnancy." Mark and Erin now lived in Austin, Texas. Karen also mentions Jason had died in a car crash returning from Jefferson City on company business in early June of 1993, just before Emily was born in late September that year.
Later, near the end of Chapter 2, Karen learns that Lori's airline is doing a corporate-wide financial restructuring, and has offered Lori, with her years of experience, an "early retirement" plan. After some time and other considerations, Lori decided to accept the offer and move to Oak Springs to be with her mother, Karen… she would "be home" for Christmas this year. [The major theme of the book was "being home for Christmas" by a number of individuals in the community].
Karen learns that her assistance manager at the Homeplace Heritage Inn will be getting married and leaving, before Christmas, as well, and… Lori slips right into that position on her arrival in December. Lori had a reunion over the Christmas holiday with Randi Crimmons. Randi was the daughter of Raynor Crimmons, an old family friend of the Winslow family in both Springfield and in Tucson for many years. His wife, Randi's mother, Rachel, had been killed in a car accident in Tucson, in 1982. He had decided to move to Oak Springs, himself, earlier in this novel.
"Lori and Randi were the closest in age of course. They had been in the same grade in school but went to different schools. Their relationship had been more like first cousins of the same age. They looked forward to spending some time together, later on, recalling what each had done since." Randi had lived and work in Washington, D.C. since graduating from the University of Arizona, as well. They had a birthday party for Randi during her visit.
Lori's 3 years between Christmas 1996 and January 1999 and her expected role in "3 Threats"
We will learn that among Lori's friends in Los Angeles were a number of real estate folks, including several developers. She had taken an active interest in residential and commercial development, basically as a serious hobby, in what spare time she had. She had attended many seminars, conferences and meetings where this work was the primary focus, and had actually become quite knowledgeable. She had even earned some real estate related "credits" for her work. After moving to Oak Springs, she had continued to attend regional seminars and taken a couple of online courses offered, working toward a certification as a developer.
The family trust had a lot of land, some donated to the McDonald Conservancy and much still in agricultural production. As we approach 1999, she has focused her interests on the land directly south of the mill, waterfall, and pond, as a possible site for a residential development and possibly a nine-hole par three golf course, to complement the 18-hole country club course on the other side of the valley. Working with others, plans were being developed to do this, within the structure of the family business (Bevins Trust, Bevins Corporation, and McDonald Conservancy). She continued working at the Homeplace Heritage Inn alongside her mother, Karen, throughout this period.
Remaining questions: 1) Will Lori develop a love interest or just real estate? 2) With whom will Lori clash in the development plans? 3) How will these issues be resolved? 3) What jealousies will develop within the family over these activities? 4) Others? I welcome suggestions and comments.