3 Threats to Character Development, CD2 - Meet Bart Bevins
Six alternating characters tell the story of "3 Threats at the Homeplace"
Continuing character development for my fourth full novel (fifth book, if you count the short story collection, now available - American Centennial, see link, below) 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… I got some excellent suggestions from CDI on Lori Winslow, by the way!
I will use "alternating person, third-person, omniscient" point of view in this novel with 6 characters taking those roles. So, 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.
Today, we will look at Bart Bevins, one of the six. For readers of the modern series of stories (1987-1996), Bart is no stranger. He is third, in age, of the four siblings at the heart of the drama in "Back to the Homeplace" when his mother died and left an unusual "video will" leaving her fairly large, century farm, to her four children - subject to their each living up to some distinctively unusual provisions and requirements. The four siblings, at the time, lived in Arizona, Oregon, and Mississippi, as well as Missouri. Only Bart lived next door to his mother and was in charge of the agricultural operations on the farm that had been in her family since 1833. The siblings were each required to commit to live on the farm for two years in order to be in line for any portion of the inheritance. How would you react to this requirement?
Direct link to CD1, if you missed it...
- 3 Threats Character Development | CD1| Meet Lori Winslow
This begins a series of Character Development articles for the novel "3 Threats to the Homeplace" upcoming in "The Homeplace Saga" series of family saga historical fiction stories by the author.
Some say Bart Bevins reminds them of John Goodman
Bart Bevins in the earlier books and stories
As we got to know Bart in the first novel of the series, "Back to the Homeplace," we learned that he, and his wife, Diana, had expected to be able to keep farming the century farm when his parents died, even if it became jointly owned by all the siblings. They had simply never seriously considered another option. In fact, they had actually assumed his parents would live much longer, but the father had died several years earlier, and the mother died earlier than expected, in the fall of 1986, just before our first story began. When that story opened, Bart and Diana had two children. Donnie, the older, a son in his first year at community college studying farm operations. He was clearly expecting to come work on the farm with his father. Their daughter, Jennifer, was a high school junior.
Bart was said by many to remind them, physically, of the Missouri actor, John Goodman. He reminded others of the role John Goodman later played on television (beginning in 1988) in Rosanne. Bart had been loyal to his mother. He had left his job in Real Estate to take over the farming operation when his father had died unexpectedly. It was a shock to him to learn he might not be farming the land the rest of his life as well. There were other personal shocks in his life that I'll leave to your reading of that first novel… "Back to the Homeplace."
When we jump ahead to 1996 (in "The Homeplace Revisited"), we find the farm land in the Bevins Trust, that was also created by the will of Mildred McDonald Bevins (and her husband). The Trust received all the land, to the benefit of all four siblings (and their descendants), because they each sufficiently met the requirements of the will. Bart and Diana were still together (following some difficult personal issues that they managed to overcome). Bart was still in charge of farming operations but had oversight from the Trustees of the Trust, including non-family-members. On a professional level, this has allowed Bart to resume his desired 'regular' expectations for day to day activities. The 3 Threats upcoming in 1999, however, threaten to upheave that 'normalcy' all over again.
On a personal level, Bart had lost his first son, but had "gained" a son, Christopher. Bart had unknowingly fathered Christopher while his wife was pregnant with their first son, Donnie. It had happened by-way-of a "one-night stand" at a Real Estate convention in Dallas. The mother, a Real-Estate colleague, also happened to be the young wife of the family attorney. Bart had believed Christopher was his oldest son's best friend, and, boy-friend to his daughter, Jennifer. Bart and Diana were still living with this new reality in 1996, but had managed to adjust to it. She had quit her job as English teacher at the high school and now ran a Stable and Horse Trail Ride from the family farm location. Agri-tourism was picking up in the area. Will this part of their new life also be threatened by the 3 Threats about to arrive in 1999?
So, we know some about Bart's character. We know he is a survivor, we know he has overcome adversity before when he received the proper support. We know he was able to work through serious problems in his marriage in earlier years, although only because they each worked at it hard, over time. They each gave each other the space to work it out. Will those opportunities be available in the case of another crisis? We also know he doesn't like paperwork, although each of his jobs has required that he do it… but, again, he had survived, to date. What challenge will he face, next.
Does birth order matter?
What will be next for Bart?
Bart had been the youngest of the first three Bevins children, then, ten years later, Peter came along, making Bart also a middle child. I often recognize, and then use in my writing, the birth order theories which are a very interesting set of characteristics, to me. Bart respected his oldest sister, Karen; deservedly so. He did not understand his younger brother - but, then, neither did anyone else in the family. He always felt his next older sister, Beverly, was strange. She was always obstinate, in his eyes, no matter the circumstances. She wanted to leave home right out of high school. She did - left the state - and he didn't mind at all. Bart and Beverly had clashed when she came back under the will. But then, she left again. He, again, was happy to see her go.
It may, of course, just be that Bart is one of the six "seen through the eyes of" characters in the 3 Threats stories. He will be involved with each of the main characters, but we do not yet know how much he will be personally involved. Perhaps he will just be an observer and reporter. What do you think?
Remaining questions related to Bart: 1) What role will he play in the 3 Threats story lines? 2) How will he respond to his involvement in each of the 3 threats? 3) How will his relationship with his wife, Diana, and and his children be affected? 4) How will he change as the story unfolds?