October is the month for characters. They appear in stores, restaurants, and on the streets; people become anyone they choose to be--from Snow White to Batman or from a Zombie to the President, with lots of characters in between.
Did you become a princess or Dracula? How did it feel to take on that persona? Perhaps you were Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ. Where did those red slippers take you?
Building a character takes that same kind of imagination. The role playing done while we were young can be used in our writing. You felt prettier or stronger when you dressed as your favorite character, and now your protagonist must be bigger and larger than life. She needs to be flashier, wiser, prettier or faster than all the other people in the work of fiction. Remember, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
A writer wants their characters to be memorable. A strong enough character to bring a person to tears when the hero fails or to cause shouts of joy at her accomplishments.
There’s much that goes into building or becoming a character, use these points as a starting place.
- Make them want something. More than anything else, it has to be a strong enough desire to carry them all the way to the end. My last husband was so domineering. How domineering was he? So domineering that I would rather die than be under his thumb ever again.
- Give them special qualities. A beautiful voice can work in a lot of situations or a good sense of humor. Find uniqueness.
- Inner Conflict gives an insight into who the person is. Mother is ill and she always wanted me to be a Space Cadet. Should I be one for her or should I become the Brain Surgeon that I always wanted to be.
- Outer Conflict is necessary. In order to be strong and to grow challenges have to be met. If there is no conflict, there is no challenge. Two weeks from today I am having a duel with John Wayne Smith, I must sharpen my pistol skills. It’s either kill or be killed.
- Humor is good if it’s lightly scattered. A bit of wit and a quick come back are essential parts of character building. Fast and snappy is the key to quick wit. Remember this old example. Lady Astor: “If I were married to you, I’d put poison in your coffee.” Churchill’s Reply: “If I were married to you, I’d drink it.”
Please use the comments section to share with us. What was your favorite character when you were young? What special quality do you feel needs to be included in the list of building a character?
Photo from Wikimedia commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Superman