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D’Arcy Arden: The Fourth State of Matter
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2023

When I first get an idea for a story, it usually starts with a single scene. For example, when I came up with the idea for The Fourth State of Matter, I had a scene in my head of a spaceship crashing while two characters are having sex in the control chair, seemingly unconcerned by the chaos happening around them. At this point, the characters didn’t have names or descriptions. I didn’t even know if they were human or alien. In my mind, they were just “male 1” and “male 2”. So, I started by freewriting this scene, giving it as much life as I could without any background information or details. The characters managed to land on a populated asteroid before I had to stop. Then, I stepped back and carefully read over what I had written.

Sometimes, this is where a story’s life ends. If I decide there isn’t enough potential, or if reading over what I’ve written doesn’t spark any more creativity, then I’ll set it aside and move on to a new idea. With The Fourth State of Matter, however, reading over that initial freewriting scene gave me a lot of ideas for how to flesh-out the world and the characters. A whole novel slowly unfolded in my mind just from this opening scene, so I started outlining the story from scratch.

My first step for planning out a full novel is to draw the characters. I’ve found that I can’t write about a character until I’m able to draw them. Not only does this give me an image to work with, but it can have a profound impact on the story itself.

With The Fourth State of Matter, my original plan for the trio was for them to only be a duo. I wanted to write a story about a human character that gets into a relationship with two aliens. However, this changed when I was trying to draw the aliens. Brog’s design came easily, and I could immediately see a backstory for the character on the page. I had an idea to create alien characters that were partially inspired by fantasy creatures. This would give them a sense of mystery and make them seem “larger than life”. Brog is my version of a reimagined mermaid, only instead of a delicate fish-girl, he’s a powerful shark-man.

Then I created a second alien that was a counterpoint to Brog. So, I drew Xavis, whose design is partially inspired by a phoenix. I liked the contrast between an aquatic species and a winged, bird-like species. Yet, it didn’t quite look right. Something felt off. So, I set Xavis aside and tried something new. This time I used a dragon as inspiration and came up with Desmodian. This also provided a good contrast alongside Brog, with a sort of “land and sea” vibe, yet it still didn’t look right.

It was only when I had all three characters on the page, trying to decide which to use, that I realized they looked best altogether. So, the duo became a trio, and the story was altered to fit this change.

Of course, characters are defined by more than just the way they look. It’s also about their personalities. Since the trio already hand a “land, sea, and air” theme going on, I took the symbolism a step further and based their personalities on the first three states of matter. Desmodian is the solid foundation that the group is built on. Silently stubborn and unmovable, he doesn’t react much with the world around him. He puts himself where he wants to be, both literally and metaphorically, and stays there no matter what. Brog embodies a liquid state in the sense that he is more adaptable than Desmodian but still maintains his own boundaries. He’s very reactive to even small disturbances, like a ripple effect, and while he is capable of standing still, he can also become an unstoppable tidal wave when he gets emotional. Lastly, Xavis’s personality resembles a gaseous state because he is the most wild and untamed. He sometimes seems to “have his head in the clouds” like he isn’t entirely grounded. This allows him to be the most creative and versatile member of the trio, but also makes him reliant on the others to keep him on track.

Once I established the characteristics of the trio, and their connection to the first three states of matter, it was a natural conclusion to base Pet on plasma, the fourth state of matter. This is what gave rise to the overall message and theme of the story. Pet’s journey into discovering himself as a person is the primary focus of the story, so I don’t want to spoil anything by explaining too much about how Pet’s character is inspired by plasma. Just know that it is a step-be-step journey that he’s still undergoing. After two books, he’s already come a long way in his personal discovery, but there’s still a much longer journey ahead of him.

2 comments to “D’Arcy Arden: The Fourth State of Matter”

  1. Linda Rhoden
    · January 3rd, 2023 at 10:43 am · Link

    It sounds like a great read. I would like to read it and to see where it leads them to

  2. D'Arcy Arden
    · January 3rd, 2023 at 8:08 pm · Link

    Thanks for hosting me. The post looks great.

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