I finally realized why the WIP feels like I’m pulling my own teeth, besides the recurrence of a medical thing that is annoying me. Ewoud is not a teenager. But he’s not an adult yet, at least not in his own mind. And a lot of me is saying “write him as an 18-year-old guy,” meaning modern. That would be relatively easy, given Day Job.
But that’s not Ewoud. He’s an 18-year-old medieval man with both parents still living. Very different world, and a very different character.
Ewoud defers. He defers to his father because his father has life-and-death power over him and the other children, and because he greatly respects his parents. He defers to his mother because, well, anyone with an ounce of sense defers to Gerta Galnaar, even her husband (sometimes). Ewoud defers to the master traders and craft masters because he is not one of them yet. He defers to the priests, but so does everyone. He defers to a corrupt journeyman and dang near causes a diplomatic disaster in the process, at least until his own preservation instincts kick in almost too late.
Tycho has a very good reason to prefer staying in the background. He’s also a grown man with a lot of judgment and survival skills. His reticence is situational and a survival trait that he can drop when needed. Ewoud… I’m tempted to put a barrel of gunpowder under him just to get him to move! In some ways he’s been too sheltered.
Which is what young men were supposed to be like back then. Yes, the stories of young men getting into trouble, of apprentices and journeymen causing riots, of scholars waging battles against the townsfolk (the original town vs. gown wars) are well-known. But most younger people deferred to their elders, kept low profiles, and then came to the forefront only after they became full adults.
Which makes for a hard character to write, especially now that he’s back at home and can tuck himself into his father’s shadow. Except… Except the Great Northern Emperor specifically requested Ewoud’s presence. And there’s a master trader who is out for Ewoud’s fortune, and his blood if he can get it.