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Character Sketch: Winifred Goodman

March 8, 2012

Today’s post is about a character in The Phlogiston Precariousness (and the other stories I have planned.) I try to invent characters that are unique to each story (unless they are recurring) as well as interesting. Whether or not the reader likes them is up to the reader. Hopefully I write them well enough to evoke some manner of response. 

As the title notes we are going to discuss Winifred Goodman. I will include his “character sheet” at the end of the post. Also, I will try not spoil any of the adventures yet to be written or published here.

Winifred is a police officer, who has a relationship with Ignatius St. Eligius (our hero) that stems from contact prior to The Phlogiston Precariousness (TPP). If you have read “A Deliverance of Justice” you have met Winifred. He was the first to arrive on scene after Ignatius, how should we put it? Snapped? Winifred did what he was supposed to do and arrested Ignatius. When I first conceived of Winifred I knew he was going to play a frequent role in the stories surrounding Harrisburg and Ignatius.

He is a balancing point for the stories. Where certain other characters are about power, avarice and straight-up corruption, Winifred is steadfast, honest and unerringly on the side of the law. He applies the law equally, without favoritism. This straight-arrow mentality will likely put him at odds with others.

One of my favorite devices as a writer is naming characters with meaning. It should be obvious what sort of man Winifred is just by looking at his full name. No immoral or unlawful or unethical actions from him! You know that Winifred is going to do the right thing.

It was obvious to me starting the Harrisburg Steampunk series that Ignatius was going to be at times morally ambiguous. There are allusions to narcotic use in order to over-stimulate his intellect and an addiction to that “smart drug”. This is suggested in “A Deliverance of Justice” so I am telling you nothing that has not already been published for the public to read. If the protagonist is going to be morally unreliable, there ought to be someone to reel them back in. I like to think of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, especially as envisioned in the latest PBS Masterpiece Mystery Series (done by the fantastic Stephen Moffat.)

Winifred will staunchly point out Ignatius’s flaws and errors and offer helpful suggestions on a given course of action. That said, he will gladly assist Ignatius on his investigations around Harrisburg when asked. Seeing to the city’s safety is what makes Winifred happy.

So from a technical definition (well one that I made up =-) Winifred is a protagonist supporting character, who helps guide folks along the path towards Good.

Thanks for reading along!

And now, the Character Sheet:

Winifred Goodman

Basic Description:  
Appearing in: The Phlogiston Precariousness. Police Constable of the City of Harrisburg. A bit stout around the middle, thick mustache. Well known by most of the citizens. Fair and helpful to all. He goes about his duties in a polite and direct manner.

Detailed Physical Description:  




6′ 2″


Distinguishing Features:  
Thick mustache which looks very much like a wooly bear caterpillar. Piercing green eyes and a close-cropped head of fiery red hair. High cheekbones, barrel like chest.

Character Traits:  

Key Character Traits:  
Honest, Fair, respectable, honorable.

Principal Function of Character:  

Character Motivation:  

The Goal of Character:  
To see that all the citizens of Harrisburg are safe.

Character’s Plan to achieve the Goal:  
Enforce the law to the strictest letter of it.

Character Background:  

Family Background:  
Irish immigrant, came through New York and Ellis Island with his parents. Poor, they migrated south from New York to Lancaster county where Winifred’s father was a constable. His mother kept the home and took in laundry.

Walks the same beat almost to the point where you could set your watch to his pace. Fancies a bit of snuff, a bit of beer, though never while on duty.

Grade school. Police academy.

Friendly and pretty easy-going. He is fair and does not show favoritism when enforcing the law. Many people say he cannot be bribed and few even bother to try.

Law enforcement, Justice. Reading Irish poets, likes to quote them.

Crime, dishonorable actions.


From → Writing

  1. by discription Winifred seeems to the kind of person anyone can bank on, but it will be very interesting to see how he tackles obstacles plus he never minces his words and what is right is right ..i am guessing he may get some jolts meeting some unexpected villains of sort …they may well be in his close circles whom he never suspected of being bad guy..dunno just speculating
    very interesting character

    • Winifred is the proverbial ‘Good Egg’ that everyone hears about. I am just about to write his introductory scene in The Phlogiston Precariousness. Very excited!

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