WriteTheWhite-Activity: Characters with Tattoos

As I’m trying to get back into writing I had a look through my old drafts and dug this one up.
Back then I – again –  felt inclined to do an exercise from WriteTheWhite, this time about characters with tattoos. In her post Sherri used a picture of a young man with a tree tattoo covering his chest and described a character with a similar one. The man from the picture became a werwolf and rather than the task itself (that you can find below) this reminded me of one of my own characters, whose story I have yet to tell. In an effort to finally get his project some much needed spotlight and maybe push myself to finally write it down, I decided to take up this activity.

But first let’s have a look at the Activity:

Task: Find a picture of a tattoo that inspires you. If you would like to share, post your snippet and a link to your picture in the comments.
What do you see?
Who is this person?
How old are they?
What is the tattoo of?
Why do they have it?
Is it important?
What is his world?
What does he love?
What does he hate?
Does he give his name freely?
What is it?
+ Add Questions of your own.

Finding a picture of the tattoos is quite difficult, as I have a character in mind, whose tattoos are just some sketches I made a couple of years ago and some of them are even still changing.
But what I know is this (The italic questions from above, will be answered, the normal ones are partly answered below):

The Tattoos (What do you see? What is the tattoo of? Is it important?)

Covering his back from shoulder blades down to his hips is a tribal tattoo of a wolfs‘ head looking straight at you with pricked ears turned sideways. The dark lines of the fur are interwoven, but you can still follow the strands easily. Most notably are its piercing eyes and its sharp, snarling fangs.
At first this tattoo was a dragon in a Chinese tattooing style, but it did not fit the character.
On his left (or right) upper arm you can see a pale blossomed lily encircling a round shape, that only up close can be recognized as a full moon.
Another moon can be found on his well formed abdomen, just about where his rips start, though depending on when in his time line you see it, the tattoo might only be one torn up half of the moon.
Depending as well are two small paw prints on his chest: A right one on the left side and a left one on the right side.
These all have a meaning to him and the wolf also to others, but you will have to wait a bit for more information. 🙂
Uncertain tattoos are a stripe like tribal tattoo covering his right (or left) shoulder, a five-pointed star on the back of his neck with three letters in each point and a lifelike snake encircling his leg and biting it.
Though the stripes probably go to a different character, the star-theme already felt weird as part of the plot when I first thought it up and the snake is just a silly idea for a kind of prank tattoo.

The Person

Now we get to the interesting part where I talk about him publicly for the first time. A few people have already heard – some even read – about him, but he mostly only exists in notes and thoughts.

Who is this person? How old are they? Does he give his name freely?

His full name is Michael Casper Fox.
He was born a bastard to a local farmer boy and a whore on 11th of November 1880 and mostly raised by the local Healer and Herb Woman. In his twentieth year (before his birthday) he was turned into a Werwolf. Ever since then he struggled with his wolf side and created a separate identity for it. While interacting with humans he uses his given name, Michael (Fox), while his pack only knows him as Casper. This identity soon develops into a second personality. Where Michael is caring and compassionate, Caspar is ruthless and carefree.
Though thanks to the strength and longevity of the wolf inside of him he gains the position of pack leader in his 50s – the race of wolfs he belongs to has a very slow ageing process where they can live up to thousands of years. But as he does not care much for the responsibilities this brings with it, he only acts as such if the pack is threatened and otherwise leaves the leading to two other capable pack members: His mentor/friend Cole and Justine, the daughter of the former leaders.
For a long time the most important person in his life was his older (half-)brother Andrew, he cares for him deeply and protects him at all costs. Like he does for every other person he cares about that will not be mentioned here.
This is but the tip of the iceberg of who Michael is, but he is one of my favourite characters, as I can explore many different things with him.

The Meaning of the Tattoos (Why do they have it?)

Let’s have a look at why he has these tattoos and what they stand for.

The Wolf

In my world the wolf itself is a symbol and tells you different things about the person that wears it as jewellery or tattoo. Though only some are allowed to actually wear it as you will see from the following tables:

Ears facing front facing side
pricked Alpha –
pure blood
Alpha –
half lowered
Beta –
pure blood
Beta –
lowered Omega –
pure blood
Omega –

If neither of the following applies than the wolf doesn’t have a special position:

Mouth Teeth snarling Tongue out
Meaning Official Executioner
for the Council

So, now do you remember how I described Michael’s tattoo?
Right, he is a bitten Alpha and an Official Executioner.
Before you complain: The Executioner’s aren’t used on a whim, they only target people – and wolves – who threaten the continued existence of wolves or that brutally violate their laws (Killing humans is forbidden – biting/turning them is already frowned upon and rarely practised).
And yes, the Werwolves have a council lead by the oldest pure blooded wolves that pass laws for the population and appoint ambassadors to deal with the humans and other creatures.
The pure blooded Werwolves derive from the first wolves in a direct line, with no human blood in the mix. Werwolves are considered as born when their ancestry includes both werwolves and humans and as bitten when they were turned by another wolf.
While Michael struggles with some of the parts of being a wolf, he is still proud of the things he achieved thanks to it. Usually this symbol of status is worn as an accessory (ring, amulet) or medium tattoo, but he – or rather Casper – decided it should cover his whole back.

The Lily and the Moon

Chosen as a memory for a friend after she is killed by a Hunter – the less law-bound human version of the Executioners – due to her own past and their friendship. He gets this tattoo in his 80s. It symbolizes her ability to accept him as what he is. Still, this tattoo gets an even deeper meaning when he falls in love with a human woman that is called Lilly, who not just returns his feelings, but also helps him to merge his personalities.

The Paw Prints

From the point of which I want to start telling his – and his families – story (where he’s about 140 years old) it is pretty clear whom the paw prints belong to, but for this I only give you a little hint: Puppies. 😀

The Moon

Just to see if the tattoo would stay he got the moon on his abdomen quite early on, as more of a joke. It is not really well done and it does look even worse after part of it is removed through an injury.

The Other stuff

I feel like answering the remaining questions or elaborating on the ones I did answer, is giving too much away of the things I want to tell, when I actually start working on (t)his story, again. Back in 2004 I started the story that would result in his, as what was pretty much a Buffy Fanfiction. While some influences of the show are still visible in the plot and characters, most of it was replaced by my variations of the themes used there and in other media. 2008 I made another attempt at writing the story down by starting on a later point in the time line with a different character (Michael got a background role in that one). I published some of the early chapters, which were pretty short, and really bad in retrospective, in a forum I was in at that time. I still didn’t have a name for the overall story and there was only little feedback, so I stopped again. Since then I merely rethought the characters and their stories, but barely wrote anything down.
There is a lot of story concerning this character and the people around him that would probably fill more than one book (probably six judging from the notes I made some weeks ago). I just don’t know how I want to put together the different parts to make the story both interesting and enjoyable and I’m not entirely satisfied with how the notes turned out. I’m also afraid that in the end it sounds like a written Soap Opera, as the struggles the characters face are more of an everyday life nature and rarely life threatening and not supernatural and murderous. But maybe I’m too hard on myself and I already have all these interesting elements, I just don’t see them any more as I’ve been working on this story for over ten years and am now too nervous to get it out.
At least I feel more and more comfortable with naming this thing Bloodlines, as it indeed focuses on the adventures of several related people.
I hope it’s okay that I re-interpreted the task again and used it to finally write a bit about this character of mine. Maybe this’ll help me to finally get started on the actual version of the whole story. It at least helped to get some much needed notes down regarding the story lines. Who knows. 🙂

One comment

  1. This is done very well, and quite thoroughly! I hope this was helpful to you. It makes me feel like what I do is reaching others like I hope that it is. I will have move activities to come and other blog posts so stay in touch. Best of luck, keep writing!

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