In 2011, I wrote a 10 minute play called “A Date with an Anime Princess.” It’s now 2014, and I’ve written a sequel. The positive reaction to the script has inspired me to write an entire series of short plays based on the characters. I’m calling the series Moonlight Reflections.
Rachael is one of the main characters of the series. She is a fangirl of the Princess Luna Kitty anime, and often cosplays as Luna. The series follows Rachael and Tim (another anime fan and cosplayer) from their first meeting through their eventual marriage and first pregnancy.
Phase One of Rachael’s Character Development
When I wrote the first play, I tried to make Rachael a lot like the anime character she so admired: cute, kind, and playful, but strong — with a need to fight injustice. She is a sweet girl, but tends to get angry when she feels someone is being unfair. This can be seen when Tim tries to inhibit her very public enthusiasm for cosplay:
“You’re asking me to give up my individuality, my creativity, to fit in — to give up my idea of fashion and art — of fun — just to make everyone else happy.”
I was writing a 10 minute play, and didn’t spend too much time developing the character. Now that I’ve decided to write more stories involving Rachael, I need to round out her personality, and I need to do it using the character traits I’ve already established. To do this, I’ll rely on the dialogue in the first script, because it provides clues to her basic personality. I’ll also need to work more on the character’s backstory and make her more realistic.
A More Rounded Rachael
Starting out, I have a young woman who has the following traits: cute, kind, playful, flirtatious, just, and nerdy (she cosplays). She tells Tim she is a music therapist in a mental hospital, so she is also musical, caring, and giving.
Rachael didn’t have a last name in the first script, so I started there. I think I just picked the name Rachael randomly, and it has no meaning for the character, therefore, I decided that I’d give her the middle name of Catherine, since Kitty is one of its nicknames. For a last name, I chose Landere. According to some baby name sites, Llandere is a girl’s name that means “moon woman” — very appropriate for someone who pretends to be a princess named Luna. Rachael Catherine Landere is a pretty nice name.
Next, I need to ask some questions. Why did Rachael become a music therapist? Why is she into cosplay, and why is she so attached to Princess Luna Kitty? I may not share the answers to these questions in the plays, but having the information will help me write a better character.
I decided to make Rachael a pianist. She’s studied music for many years and is quite accomplished, but that doesn’t explain why she is a therapist at a mental institution.
From my research, I’ve found out that many cosplayers dress up as characters and go to conventions to escape the worries and boredom of everyday life. What if Rachael’s inclination to study music therapy and her desire to cosplay were inspired by the same things: a need to help mentally ill patients and a passion for escape into fantasy.
Perhaps a member of Rachael’s family suffered from a mental illness. Perhaps she found that her music helped to sooth the person’s suffering. Maybe she used cosplay as a way to temporarily remove herself from the reality of caring for a mentally ill person.
Rachael Catherine Landere’s mother suffers from Schizophrenia. Rachael found that playing the piano often helped her mother’s condition, so she decided to help others and majored in Music Therapy.
Yet, the stress of caring for her mother and the workload at college was tough for Rachael. When she discovered anime and cosplay, she enthusiastically entered the world of conventions and cosplay competitions, because it helped her escape from her troubles. She particularly liked portraying Princess Luna Kitty because the character shared a lot of her traits, displayed a calmness during hard times, and had the ability to heal illness.
A Step on My Journey as a Writer
In coming up with Rachael’s backstory, I’m not only creating a more rounded character, I’m adding a lot more detail to Rachael’s life. The details fit together well and could happen in real life, so it makes the character more plausible.
This will help me write better dialog, because I know Rachael and her story. It’s only one step of my journey as a playwright, but it’s an important one.