Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Itchy and Scratchy

Talents are best nurtured in solitude. Character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world. ~Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Character building is not something that is just a fly by night thing to do. There is some really deep thought that needs to go in the construction of a beloved character that your reader is going to latch onto and never want to let go of through many readings and many generations.

A few characters that stick out in my mind is Eleanor from The Haunting of Hill House, Gem from To Kill a Mockingbird, and most recently I think of Odd Thomas from Odd Thomas, and Max and the birdkids from Maximum Ride. Shirley Jackson, Harper Lee, Dean Koontz and James Patterson, respectively.

These characters were not just put on paper and thrown into a story. You have to have a basic idea of who that character is. After you got your premise down of the story you want to tell, you start filling it in with characters. The main character is the one you want to spend the most time with because he/she is going to not only carry the weight of the story but have the most lasting impression on the reader.

Basically you are building the person from scratch, but you might have an idea from someone you’ve met in life, maybe a person you admired and looked up to, or maybe an evil sinister man whom you loathed as child will become your antagonist. Either way the path is being laid and you need to build a strong house to get this character on board.

Does she/he have blue eyes, green eyes or purple eyes, in Odd Thomas’ case? Are they tall, short, small, big? Anything stand out to make them special? Think about that one. You’re going to want something to stand out on that character like never before written.
We have enough blond bombshells, they are more caricatures than characters. We have enough men with chiseled cheekbones and etched out abs.

We need something unique, a scar perhaps? Then you can build on it, as a scar from say a fire many years ago, an accident a few years ago, or a pimple that won’t go away from a few weeks ago? Whatever the case may be, your character needs to be unique. No cookie cutter cut-outs. Unique in the fact that he/she has not been done before. The reader wants something new!

As you can see in the TV industry, it is very hard to come up with something new. This is the reason they inundate the screens with reality tv, because they think that is what people like. So isn’t that what you like when picking up a book? A character/hero/heroine that rings true to life? Or do you read  to see the same old things over and over.

I don’t think you do. I have pretty brilliant readers and you look for something fresh every day whether it is in a blog post or a book or an online story, you’re looking for NEW and getting the same-old, same-old.  Is that how you’re going to build your character? Getting a little itchy and scratchy there are ya? You now feel the need to go and CREATE?

Don’t let me stop you! Write Right!

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