Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I love characters. That's part of why I love reading series. I get to watch the characters grow and mature. As a writer, I'm all about the character arc.

It's very important to have well-rounded characters that you might meet on the street or in line at the grocery store. Yesterday I talked about my football player. His name is Seth. Yeah, he's a professional athlete and he loves football. Lives and breathes it sometimes. But there's more to him than just football. There has to be, otherwise he is nothing more than cardboard. And cardboard characters are dull, boring, bland and nobody wants to read about them.

Seth lives in Colorado. He has a basement. Louisiana doesn't have basements, so I'm rather fascinated with the idea of basements. The tempermental hot water heater is in the basement. So is his Spiderman collection. Yeah, he likes Spidey. When you think about a college grad signing a contract with the NFL or the NBA, you might imagine that he would spend part of the signing bonus money on a fancy new car, or a Rolex watch. Not Seth. He went and tracked down a copy of the first issue of Spiderman and was able to finally buy it without feeling guilty about spending that much money on a comic book with 20 pages in it.

Is any of this information important to the part of his story I've chosen to tell? Not really. But it makes him real. Gives you a way to identify with him as someone besides a celebrity.

The Epic has dual heroes. Two brothers, 5 years apart in age but still the best of friends because of how they were raised. They have what would appear to most people to be a very silly ritual. When it's storming outside, they like to read scary stories out loud to each other. In the dark of course with just one candle to illuminate the pages. I'm talking Poe, Dracula, etc. The Telltale Heart and The Cask of Amantillado are two of their favorites.

This little thing isn't terribly important to the plot, and I may not even use it. But it's still there and it makes them real.

Nick knits socks. Tanner harbors a secret love of Disney animation and has a weakness for WDCC pieces--particularly Finding Nemo pieces. David's favorite book is Jane Eyre. Reese is absolutely fascinated with ancient Egypt and he once sculpted the entire Valley of the Kings out of sand. Connor's kitchen, car and bedroom are red because that's his favorite color. Michelle makes tatted lace and uses it to trim the Civil War gowns that she makes. Michael owns every song that Bing Crosby ever recorded and Irving Berlin ever wrote. Duncan plays Rachmaninov.

None of these things are important in the grand scheme of plot, but they are all important in characterization. It's the little things like this can breathe life into an otherwise stale character. Do your heroes/heroines have hobbies or collections or fascinations?

1 comment :

  1. That's a great way to round out your characters. The heroine in my last book was an artist, and the heroine in my book before that (Honey Do Inc.) was really into exercise, and she loved to read romances =)