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Casting Notes For Character Auditions

A Novel Writing Exercise by Janet Chester Bly

My husband, Steve, dictated these sketchy notes to me in the hospital on May 21st, 2011, concerning his novel, “Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot”. He passed away a few weeks later . . .

Willamette Valley orphan farm
Lair Apishamore, a character in Hawthorne Miller dime novel
Romal Vug, a character in Hawthorne Miller dime novel
Bluff Tarrabee, a character in Hawthorne Miller dime novel
Jinette, a young singer, a character in Hawthorne Miller dime novel
Hawthorne H. Miller, author of Wild West dime novels, is in Portland.
Tally Rebozo, Brannon’s new partner, searches for Tom Wiseman. But is Rebozo a Serbian spy?
Only lead is a man called Sully.
They find Sully at the Black Duck Saloon.
There’s a Turkish diamond merchant.

Tom Wiseman, U.S. Marshal friend of Brannon’s, last seen near Gearhart, Oregon, a week before.
T.R., Teddy Roosevelt, wants whole disappearance mystery cleared up before he gets there.
Lax Wanigan, a former outlaw connected to the First National Bank robbery in Globe, Arizona.
Sylvia Wiseman, Tom Wiseman’s daughter who is head bookkeeper for Consolidated Mining in Goldfield, Nevada. Consolidated Mining sponsors a huge Taj Mahal shaped pavillion at the Lewis & Clark Exposition in Portland. She gets off train in Portland and hasn’t been seen since.
Do either of the disappearances have to do with the big ditch, which means the Panama Canal, an important project of T.R.’s?

Then Steve handed me two more pages of potential names. We auditioned a full cast of characters. Some made the cut. Others didn’t.

Here’s some monikers on Steve’s list we didn’t use: Apishamore, Dabster, Flasharity, and Squat. If you’re working on a fiction story that needs humor, you’re welcome to use one of them.

Some of the names on his list that stayed:

Lax Wanigan, although we changed it to Wax Lanigan and determined he somehow needed to have a meltdown. He had run-ins with both Stuart Brannon and Tom Wiseman. Is seen as an upstanding citizen by most all the other characters. He is on Willamette Orphan Farm board of directors and pursues Sylvia Wiseman as a love interest.

Tally Rezobo, claims to be an agent for the government, under special orders from President Theodore Roosevelt. Is an inveterate ladies’ man. Knows crime detection and a crude sort of forensics, 1905 style.

Quintus ‘Q.’ Sully, a partner in the Consolidated Mining Company of Goldfield, Nevada with Sylvia Wiseman and is very protective of her.

Argentiferous Jones, a street thug who seems like an actor Jack Elam type. He is known in the Wild West dime novels as “the man who killed Stuart Brannon.”

Slash Barranco, a train robber and street thug.

Sylvia Wiseman travels to Exposition on behalf of the mine and to meet up with her father, Tom Wiseman, at Gearhart, Oregon for her 40th birthday. Helps Brannon search for him.

Tom Wiseman is the missing U.S. Marshal friend of Brannon’s. Attended Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition on orders from President Theodore Roosevelt. Recent widower with three daughters. One of the most challenging characters for us to develop as we knew so little about him, yet he’s the central figure in the story.

Our challenge for the Bly family writing team: to get the characters talking to each other and discover surprises about them that pushed the story forward. And so “Stuart Brannon’s Final Shot” came to be.


Janet Chester Bly has authored 30 nonfiction and fiction books, 19 she co-authored with Christy Award winning author, Stephen Bly. Titles include The Hidden West Series, The Carson City Chronicles, Hope Lives Here, and The Heart of a Runaway. She resides at 4200 ft. elev. on the Idaho Nez Perce Indian Reservation. Her 3 married sons, Russell, Michael and Aaron, live down the mountain with their families.

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