H Is for Home Base


Have you ever gone on a trip and noticed that when you get to a certain exit on the highway or touch down at the closest airport you instinctive say, I’m home. Geographically speaking, you may still be quite a ways from your physical home, but you are in your element or sphere. You know what to expect. You know the shortcuts, the language, the people.Your home base may not even be a physical spot. It came be a religious connection or an interpersonal connection, but it conjures up the same sense of belonging and surefootedness.

The same is true for your characters. They have a place that is their touchstone, their home base. (If they don’t have a single place where they feel safe or at home, this then becomes their home base – the feeling of exclusion.)

Whether you characters have positive or negative feelings about their home base, it is a core sense of who they are. It impacts them in ways they may not even imagine.

Consider the protagonist who left home as a teen after gaining a bad reputation in town; his run-ins with the local sheriff were legendary. Now he’s back. Everything about his home base will resonate and evoke some kind of response. The smell of his mother’s pasta sauce, the color of the walls on the high school gym, the sounds of kids riding their bikes in summer.

How does our hero react to these stimuli? How does it inform the choices he will make? Will he revert to his old ways or will his adult self be able to adapt and find a new way to connect to his home base?

On the other hand, what about the person who has never left? What if, suddenly, home base is no longer the peaceful sanctuary it once was? How will she deal with the changes?

Will she feel adrift, gripping at whatever lifeline is offered regardless of the consequences? Will she rise to the occasion and become stronger and create a new home base? Will she simply wither forever lamenting what once was?

We all have a home base. It’s a deep part of who we are and why we are the way we are. Connect to that in your characters and you will find a richer, deeper person waiting to come out.

HOMEWORK: Think about your characters. What or where is their touchstone? How does it make them feel? How does it control their actions, their words?

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