One practice I use to better understand who my characters are is writing letters from their perspective. The letters home are situated in a particular point in time, which constructs a mental dimension that I can facilitate and utilize in my otherwise third person omniscient narrative. Sometimes these excerpts make it into Aristeia: A Dance with Fate and other times they don’t, but either way these private, first person perspectives lend a unique insight into the personality of my characters and they ways in which they would address conflicts.
This letter home was written by Raisaic, a German infantryman fighting in the Wehrmacht. It is early January and he is currently behind enemy lines in the heart of the Russian winter of 1942 searching for German territory. He is writing home to his wife after months of zero contact:
My Dearest Margarette,
Thoughts of your smile are the only warmth I can find in Russia.
Knowing I will be walking through the Tiersgarten with you at my side by spring is the only thing that keeps me going. Russia is an ugly place, in both its landscape and its people. I miss our breakfasts in the city, but most of all I miss your
Christmas is quite an occasion in Russia. Though I was missing you dearly, the other soldiers and I made the best of our holiday away from home. You wouldn’t believe how cheerful the Russians are at this time of year. Even though they are all peasants, most of whom uncivilized, they sure know how to throw a party! And best of all, they treat us like kings! They literally give us the shirts off their backs, and that’s saying a lot considering how heavy the snowfall is. And just days before the big Christmas feast, a humble family welcomed me and my pals into their home and filled our pockets with what was left of their butter, as well as all their eggs, some onions, a bag of pecans, and even salt. They even gave us their cranberries! The farmer’s daughters were lovely girls. I’m telling you, you’d never even guess they were peasant girls if you had seen them in the city. There were so many great families, Margarette. My only quarrel is their quality of Christmas carols. Ghastly! When the big day arrived we came across a splendid, healthy goose just wandering the countryside. Can you believe the luck! We roasted it to a perfect golden brown once we chopped off all four hooves. It fed the whole company. There was even seconds…