28 Days of Character Development: Elspeth

The Challenge

Day One: General Biography

Day Two: Relationships (Parents/Guardians)

Day Three: Marriage and Children

Day Four: Alternate Universe

Day Five: Happiest Memory

Day Six: Religion and/or Spirituality

Day Seven: Relationships (Lydia)

Day Eight: Sex and Romance

Day Nine: Deepest Kept Secret(s)

Day Ten: Coping Mechanisms

Day Eleven: Hardest thing your character has had to do

Day Twelve: Dear Past Me

Day Thirteen: Weakness, vices, and/or bad habits

Day Fourteen: Relationships (Whiterun Hold)

Day Fifteen: Inheritance*

Day Sixteen: Spirit Animal*

Day Seventeen: Elspeth’s Epic Play List*

Day Eighteen: TARDIS

Day Nineteen: Friends, Enemies, Frenemies

Day Twenty: What Happens in Riften, Stays in Riften

Day Twenty-One: Relationships (Trygve)

Day Twenty Two: Dear Future Me

Day Twenty Three: Alignment

Day Twenty Four: Everyday Shit

Day Twenty Five: Favorites

Day Twenty Six: Ch…ch…changes

Day Twenty Seven: Party

Day Twenty Eight: Relationships (Creator)

*Order switched from the original list.

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111 thoughts on “28 Days of Character Development: Elspeth

  1. Days One and Two:

    Each time I hear about Elspeth’s past, and the people in it, I am increasingly impressed by how rich of a story you’ve created. Each detail is expertly crafted, and can be seen within the confines of the character’s behavior. I am very excited to see more of these detail-laden entries, because the more I find out about your characters, the more I like and appreciate them.

  2. Day 3: I really enjoy the fact that romance wasn’t really a second nature to Elspeth, but when she has encountered it, her defenses fell, maybe even if she didn’t want them to. I like that idea that sometimes you can’t help but fall for someone.

  3. Day four: I like how the alternate universe wouldn’t really change Elspeth too much. I also like that she would still end up with Onmund, though it is sad that there would be no Lydia in her life.

  4. Day 4: I can’t say I’m really surprised that Elspeth would undergo any monumental changes to her character or personality. She is who she is, and circumstance won’t really change that.

    It’s funny to imagine her joining the fighter’s guild. I don’t know why, but it is. Also, this

    “She can get drunk far more easily.”

    made me laugh.

      1. I think we all would enjoy that. Maybe she can one day stumble across something entirely too potent, that can even get her drunk after a while. I definitely think it needs to happen.

  5. Day 5: I am glad she has fond memories and I am sure they helped get her through the rigorous training with Xeri. Though I would like to know what exactly was going on when Andil would sneak into their house hehe

      1. Inquiring mind want to know! So I will make it official and ask some questions.

        How old was Elspeth when Runa would allow Andil to sneak into the house?

        When was Elspeths first sexual experience? And with who was it with?

        Given Elspeths lack of social experience was this an embarrassing experience or was it romantic but awkward?

        Elspeth is stranded on an deserted island, she has no way off and is stuck their forever, what three things would she wish she had?

  6. Day 5:
    Archery’s not for everyone. That’s why Grawnk prefers to use a crossbow.

    “…and Andil snuck into their house after everyone else was asleep.”

    I laughed immaturely.

  7. Day 6: Religion is a tricky subject for anyone and all I can say is short and sweet does the trick. We learned a little about her beliefs and that’s all we really need to know seeing as she is still figuring things out for herself. I have noticed that Kynareth is a popular deity.

    1. I briefly considered that Elspeth might have cursed the gods after the purge, but really her life has been so task-oriented. Everything is about honing her skills so that she can confront problems herself and gathering as many facts as possible so she could navigate wherever her journey would take her (and even that’s a problem since she’s only really book smart).

      Given that, I just don’t see her having any deep relationship with the gods. I expect that her connection to Talos and the rituals are sort of a cultural thing for her–having grown up in Bruma, raised by Runa, etc.

  8. Day 6:
    Were you to say anything contrary to what you did, I would have been very surprised. You write Elspeth well enough so that we are able to read between the lines and make fairly accurate assumptions about her character.

  9. Day 7:
    I’ve picked up on a touch of the coddling aspect that Lydia does with Elspeth. I like it though. I assume Lydia is older than Elspeth? How much older, if so? Also, I liked the way you blended background with explanation. Clever writing as always.

    1. Lydia is about 3 years older than Elspeth but she’s more mature. And yeah, Elspeth needs a nurturing influence in her life so if it occasionally feels a bit overprotective at times, Elspeth so far hasn’t seemed to mind. It remains to be seen, however, if Lydia’s affection will become too stifling for Elspeth. Or if Lydia will start to feel taken for granted.

  10. Day 7: This was nothing new really but you made it feel new again. It just reinforced my feeling that Lydia is Elspeths sister regardless of blood. I think they are good for one another as Elspeth needs affection and on some level I think Lydia needs to give affection.

  11. Day 8: Excellent insight into the emotional state that Elspeth has been growing up through. I can imagine intimacy of any sort would be hard when you are always looking over your shoulder for an angry Dunmer.

  12. Day 9: I love reading about Elspeth’s past, and the people connected to her. I’m almost sure you’ve already written about Evangeline, but if you haven’t, I know finding more out about her would be very cool. I feel like you, trying to come up with something secret-y in Grawnk’s past. Hard to do if it hasn’t already been established in your mind.

  13. Day 9: While this was no secret for anyone who is a devote follower of Elspeths story, I think it is a good thing you didn’t try to force a secret into her life but rather let the more natural realization that she has been keeping the fact that she needs people, especially Onmund to her self making it one of her most guarded secrets. And while it may seem like not much of a secret to anyone else it is a huge secret for her.

  14. Day 10: I love the fact that Elspeth kills stuff when she’s mad. The image of a small-framed girl just annihilating an entire cave of Goblins is quite compelling. I also enjoy the contrast of Xeri and Runa when it comes to Elspeth. I don’t know why, but it just makes me smile.

  15. Day 11: I was not expecting that but yes, I would say that would be the hardest thing anyone has to do. Facing the parent of a loved one that has been killed and knowing it is your fault they were in danger to begin with, I don’t think even Xeri is cold enough to get out of that one without at least one tear.

  16. Day 12: Excellent letter, I know it was difficult for you to write it but it was really good. I like how you foreshadowed things to come for Elspeths past self to read about without revealing too much, gotta watch out for that pesky space time thing.

  17. Day 10 and 11: I totally understand why Elspeth wouldn’t want to talk to Andil’s mother. That is pretty awful.

    Some very insightful advice to past Elspeth. And who better to dole it out than present Elspeth? It’s almost like past Elspeth had to go through a tumultuous and confusing period of her life for a while in order to put the past into context, thus being able to take away from it what she needed to. That probably doesn’t make sense. Great entry though.

    1. No, it makes perfect sense. It was interesting to try to pinpoint a time from which Elspeth was writing. I’m still not sure, really, where the Elspeth who wrote the letter was writing from. Way in the future, or just far enough to be experiencing some of the fallout from the things that are alluded to.

  18. Day 13: No one is perfect and Elspeths list of bad habits weaknesses and such only furthers to demonstrate that fact. She has a lot of growing and learning left and she knows it which will give her room for more growth in your writing. As for the popping of peoples zits all I can say is eww and I had to read it twice cause I first read it too quickly and thought you said pooping in peoples zits….which is also eww but on a completely different level.

    1. “and she knows it”

      She does to some extent, but I also think she’s not that self-aware. For one thing, I don’t think she realizes how much her past trauma/heartbreak is affecting her now. Part of her having unresolved issues is that she’s not acknowledging them and is therefore, not completely aware of them. But, of course, that unawareness is just part of the growing process.

  19. You wrote a well-thought-out post, but I too am fixated by the popping of zits. Is that just a thing that women do? I knew a girl once who said she liked doing that, and have heard of others as well.

  20. Day 14: I don’t know why but Ralof is definitely one of my favorite characters in the game. I am looking forward to more of him in Elspeths story. I am also so very glad she hates those two Battle-Born nitwits as much as I do.

  21. Day 15.: I too wish Jon and Oflina were my neighbors. I also have the guilty-wish that Jon was just disowned already. He don’t need no associating with that. Especially Olfrid. *shudder*

    I find it so sweet that Elspeth would buy all Fralia’s jewelry just to make the GMs richer than the BBs. ❤

  22. I could totally see Elspeth doing all of that, especially making the Grey Manes richer than the Battle-Borns. I often ponder the implications of that happening. I think it would confuse Olfrid and hurt his ego so much it sends him into a steep depression and he would hang himself, leaving Idolaf to run the family but him being…more muscle than brain he burns through all the Battle-Born money, sending the clan into a deep poverty causing them to lose everything, only to end up working for the Grey Manes at Eorlunds new Blacksmithing shop as well as the new Grey Mane Farm(formerly the Battle-Born farm) where Idolaf’s new job is the poopsmith for the live stock….perhaps I have thought about this too much…nah

  23. I definitely had the mental image of Elspeth throwing gold coins to everyone like Aladdin in the “Prince Ali” song. I think this shows a very caring, philanthropic side of her. I like it.

    1. Now I’ve got that song stuck on my head. I think she is, deep down, a very generous person, wanting to take care of people she loves and keep/bring them close to her. Other than that, the University thing would be, in part, motivated by restoring something the Thalmor destroyed.

  24. Day 16: I think you nailed the spirit animal dead on with Elspeth. The sigil as well makes complete sense. Very thought out and very well executed to add more to Elspeth without adding too much.

  25. Day 16: I love everything about this entry. I am totally going to take a “Which Spirit Animal are you?” quiz on facebook now (kidding). All of the backstory elements here are fantastic. I really enjoy the motto as well as the crest. I think silver and purple go extremely well together. Also, when does season 3 of Game of Thrones start? I know it’s February, but not the day.

  26. Day 18: All really great points in time for Elspeth to visit, though I think she definitely would have changed history and helped those fleeing from the Thalmor.

  27. Day 19: She shouldn’t grit her teeth, that’s a good way to impact a molar hehe. I can so relate to Elspeth on her views. I also can’t wait for her first frenemy, I don’t know why but I think it would lead to some very funny dialog and one liners.

      1. That would be awesome. Farengar want to research the bones of the dragon slayed at the watch tower and Balgruuf insists he bring Elspeth as protection. Or something like that maybe.

  28. Day 20: Regrets are hard, and those are some very difficult regrets to have. I am glad to see she regrets what happened to Rune a little but I think Lydia has more regrets about that than anyone else. It is good she doesn’t dwell on these regrets too much and is able to move forward through them.

  29. Day 21: I think Elspeth and Trygve have the potential to have a unique and dynamic relationship the same way she has with Lydia and I think it would feel un-natural if she automatically knew everything about him.Though she will have to break down and get to know the poor man eventually, and when she does I think that is when the group dynamic will really start to shine.

      1. You’ll break through it, and when you do you will go through chapters like water. I hate writers block but when you break through it you always have more ideas and things to write about, it is like a dam breaking. Well, at least for me it is that way. Don’t get frustrated too much and stay positive about it, it’ll work itself out soon.

  30. Day 22: You really showed Elspeths inner turmoil and struggle with her questions to her future self. The way all her questions were so scattered and how she wanted to know but didn’t want to know all at the same time felt really natural. Especially the sweet roll.

  31. Day 24: Since we don’t get to read about it a lot it was nice to get a run down of Elspeth’s, as you call it, mundane life. I do like how Breezehome belongs to Lydia and she is trying to get Elspeth to loosen up a tiny bit. =)

  32. Day 22: I appreciated your handling of Elspeth and Onmund in this letter. I think that is such a relatable thing of her to ask.

    Day 23: Much like the touted Myers Briggs personality test, no one’s going to fit perfectly within one category. That goes for alignment quizzes for fictional characters too. I like it that way though, because as with the Myers Briggs, I’ve changed over time and belong to several different groups. Elspeth will/has undoubtedly change/changed too.

    Day 24: I rather enjoyed hearing about the mundane goings on of Elsepth and crew. Of course, this is coming from a guy who started a blog specifically about the mundane goings on of a character. I thought your additions were not out of the question, and would have fit naturally if Bethesda had included them.

  33. Day 25: I love that Elspeth doesn’t like pulling the wings off of butterflies. I would really like to see the Imperial City brought back either in DLC or the next TES game. Such a cool place.

  34. Day 25: I like her fav list. I can totally see Elspeth sniffling a little because she had to pull the wings off a bug. I can’t wait for Onmund to become a better smith so he can make her a special sword from all the dragon bone she will be collecting. Who doesn’t like moon sugar, granted it is a main ingredient of Skooma if i am not mistaken but still how can you have a sweetroll without it being sweet, sure you could use honey but then the flavor is different.

    1. You know, I wasn’t convinced that it was moon sugar that sweetened baked goods in skyrim, except that in Hearthfire it is an ingredient in one of the baked goods (but only just one). Still, it’s expensive and you can only get it from the caravans (which means those Nords who don’t interact with the caravans would have a hard time getting it).

      I still want to know what’s in a boiled creme treat.

  35. Day 26: Turn and face the strange? I think Grawnk would approve of Elspeth’s bookish ambition to obtain more knowledge/wisdom. I was feeling bad about putting out such a short entry, but I guess there’s not really too much one can say on this topic.

    1. Don’t feel bad. I only asked for one thing. I thought about writing this whole big thing, detailing Elspeth’s history of “things I would change” throughout her childhood and adolescence. But then I said, fuck it. This is plenty.

  36. Short and sweet though I am concerned with your obsession with the whole “Mary Sue” thing. I don’t think I could elaborate on this any better than Kit already has other than to say Zander would approve as well.

      1. not it makes it false and anyone who has read your story in its entirety thus far would know that. You shouldn’t let the critique of one person who probably hasn’t read everything you have written get under your skin. It would be like me reading a paragraph of the game of thrones and calling it a LotR rip off.

      2. You’re right that I shouldn’t let it get under my skin. But I think it doesn’t hurt to make sure I let Elspeth’s flaws shine. Because sometimes I want her to always say/do the right thing. And I can’t. Especially with all the challenges ahead.

  37. Day 27: Giving the Divines party cred was hilarious. I think it would be fun to see an entire entry devoted to the Divines interacting at a party. Perhaps you should write one.

    1. Allow me to share with you my idea that Wendy’s comment on dA inspired:

      I should write a soap opera-esq fan fiction called “Lives of the Daedra” and have all sorts of dramatic interactions and ill-matched couplings between Aedra and Daedra. I could also call it “As the Nirn Turns” or “General Temple of Kynareth” or something.

  38. Day 27: I second the motion brought up by Kitdoctor, That would be an awesome scene. Though some Daedra would have to crash the party but who? besides Sanguine.

  39. Day 28: Uh oh, Why will Elspeth hate you? I am curious to find out why. I really love the way you approached writing this story, with someone who has been training her whole life for something, then it just gets put on hold, and she has to figure out who she is outside of all the training.

  40. It has been a ball this last month getting to know Elspeth a bit better and I agree she probably doesn’t hate you….yet. I know you have big plans for her and with this month of development under your belt I think it might be easier for you to fine tune those plans. I look forward to continuing to read her adventures and watch her and all your characters grow and develop more.

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