Sunday, January 2, 2011

Eulogy of Character

My grandmother died last week, and one of the myriad of funeral preparations my mom had to take care of was writing her eulogy. The only problem was that she had never written a eulogy before, so she had no idea how to go about it. Finally, she called me up and had me go online and look for something to help with the process. What I found was a form titled “Useful Information for Writing a Eulogy.”

Right before I got my mom’s call I had been reading a book about writing that talked about the importance of getting to know your characters and seeing them as real people. The whole time I was on the phone with my mom helping her write my grandmother’s eulogy I kept thinking, “do fictional characters have eulogies?” If their funeral is a part of the events of the story then yeah definitely, but what if they survive the story and at the end of the book are on their way to living long happy lives in their nonexistent worlds. What then.

I tend to get to know my characters really well when I’m writing, but when I finish the story that tends to be that. I’ll go over the story again and again, but it’s the same story. It’s like they’re stuck in a time loop reliving the same period of time over and over again for all of eternity. They don’t go on to live lives of their own once I stop typing.

But helping write my grandmother’s eulogy made me wonder what would it be like if they did? What if their lives went on after the story was finished? What if they grew old, or got sick, or had an accident and died just like any other person? What if a fictional child or husband had to sit down and fill out that same form? What would it say when everything was said and done?

With those questions in mind I decided to give it a try using my favorite main character.

Personal Information:

Name: Janice Philips (born Jennifer Malthus)

Place and date of birth: Born in Trenton, New Jersey on May 15, 1989

Age: 46

Cause of death: Health problems resulting from old age

Places lived/ visited:

  • Trenton, New Jersey (1989-2005)

  • Miami, Florida (2005)

  • Branson, Missouri (2005)

  • Denver, Colorado (2006)

  • Anchorage, Alaska (2007-2011)

  • New York City, New York (2011)

  • Anchorage, Alaska (2011-present)

  • Moscow, Russia (visited in 2011)

  • Beijing, China (visited in 2011)

Information about the Person’s family:

Spouse’s name(s): Tolya Stadnik

Children & place of residence: Terry Philips, Anchorage, Alaska (born 2015)

Grandchildren & place of residence: None

Parents & place of residence (or resided, if deceased):

  • Catherine Malthus, mother, deceased (2003)

  • Peter Kozlov, father, deceased (1988)

  • Adam Philips (born Alex Dent), step-father, whereabouts unknown (as of 2011)

Pets & names: None

Siblings & place of residence: None

Significant relatives & place of residence:

  • Adriana Malthus, aunt, Anchorage, Alaska

  • Gregor, grandfather, Moscow, Russia

Significant friends to mention:

  • Katya Stepyreva

  • Scarlett Kim

More personal information

Work/ career:

  • Teacher

  • Alpha of the Malthus family


  • Bachelors in Elementary Education

  • Masters in Elementary Education

Hobbies and free time activities:

  • Hunting

  • Needle point

  • Kickboxing

  • Running

Religious, social, professional memberships & other affiliations: None

Government, professional or community organizations offices: None

Military service: None

Special or significant life events & accomplishments:

  • Her mother died when she was 14

  • Ran away from her family at 16, with the help of her step-father

  • Changed her identity numerous times in her teens

  • Became Alpha of the Malthus at 22

  • Killed her Magus at 22

  • Settled the Malthus family in Anchorage, Alaska

  • Traveled the world with her husband in her twenties

  • Helped broker peace between the nine families

  • Was the longest surviving Alpha at the time of her death

Special beliefs, cherished values or life philosophies: “Put on your big girl panties and deal with it.”

Well, that's the life and times of Janice Philips. How would the eulogy of one of your characters read?



Catherine Denton said...

I'm sorry for the loss of your grandmother. Your post is very thought-provoking. Don't think I've imagined my characters past the last page either. Good idea!

Bethany Robison said...

Brilliant. Very good idea, thanks for passing it along.