Wednesday, 27 October 2010

COOKING UP CHARACTERS


THERE ARE WAYS TO GO ABOUT SERVING UP CHARACTERS ON A PLATE ;)
Characters, like a good dinner, do not appear out of thin air.
When I’m reading, sometimes I get to devour a fully-rounded, gourmet-banquet of a character. I wonder if, in real life, this was an unattainable love; a younger brother or the scowling stranger, dressed from head to foot in black, who once stepped back to let the writer have the last space in the lift.
COOKING UP CHARACTERS?
The recipe has been handed down over the generations, perhaps that is why, sometimes, characters taste a little stale, and lacking in spice: 
1 Take a particular type
2 Add a dash of your favourite hair
3 Sprinkle in eye colour (and freckles,  if desired)
4 To show that you did more than shake a few staples into the f-word processor, show you are sophisticated by adding a hook into the mix
Some old-favourites:
The  shy, to-the-point-of-withdrawn, fragile blonde with doe-like brown eyes and a tendency to chew on the end of her hair, female
The strong-silent, but unable to express his emotions, sable-brown haired (with blue eyes) man who folds his arms before every encounter with the person he has come to truly care about, male .
The trouble with those characters is if they start out by type, name and characteristics they can become as two-dimensional as the sheet of paper they are written upon.
NAH! SPICE IT UP:
Cook up some characters who have a lot to lose, and plenty to gain. 
Make sure they think they know what they want, but show me what they need.
Flavour them frustrating or admirable
Make hope unattainable 
And, don't forget to fricassee their deepest fears. 
YUM!
The best characters are -- almost -- worth eating ;)

6 comments:

  1. Oh, and don't forget the flows. Believeable characters need flaws.

    That dish looks yummy!

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  2. I love the idea of taking a familiar/tried and true character and adding a lot of spice. I guess we can think of 'spice' as the uniqueness of the character.

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  3. Hi Stina - With characters, it's all about the flows and flaws ;)

    Hi Crimey
    Uniqueness and characters? Tricky and troubled? ;)

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  4. I used to think that creating characters was the easy part, but now I realise it's not that simple. I've read so many books that have indistinct leads. Definitely more spice required!

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  5. Hi MC :)
    Crispy, flakey but not overdone - gotta love a good character :)

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