Anatomy of a Character: Della and Lisa

In Human X, the one and only time we see Ted, Colin’s original partner, he say he’s headed to Della and Lisa’s house. Presumably, Della and Lisa are friends of Ted’s and acquaintances of Colin’s. Their role at first is twofold. First they symbolize the estrangement between the two partners, as the two men seem to live in separate worlds. Second, they define what Ted’s world is, in contrast to Colin’s.

At the beginning of the story, Colin is defined more by his job than by her personal life. His friends are other lawyers, his social circle revolves around the legal community. They only meet because Ted was the target of a vicious gay bashing attack, and Colin’s firm was involved in a law suit similar to the one that bankrupted Tom Metzger and the White Aryan Resistance.

Like Antonia Milos, neither Della nor Lisa were originally intended to be on-stage characters, but of course, that changed and the two women had to first appear on the phone. Well, Lisa did anyway. Apparently, she’s one of those people who gets along with everybody, and she and Colin were always close, even while Della barely tolerated him just for Ted’s sake.

This was another way to highlight the separation between the worlds in which the two men were living. To Della, Colin was not only a workaholic careerist with no connection to the gay community, he was also the son of a prominent conservative politician who shared his father’s beliefs.

I don’t suppose it’s much of a spoiler to say that the plot hinges on the death of an important person in Colin’s life, so the first part of the book ends with a funeral. Being the old softy that I am, I couldn’t keep Della from showing up and reaching a genuine rapprochement with Colin. By the end of the book, the “intellectual apartheid” between them has melted away and she becomes a fast friend.

The lesson here is I have a hard time writing antagonistic female characters. Whenever I crack through whatever is eating at them, I tend to find something noble and nurturing. I don’t know what that says about me as a writer, but it does speak volumes about the women who have had an impact on me over the course of my life.

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