Some of the Easiest Characters Around
Have you ever struggled to come up that character to add comic relief to a story? What about the little kid who holds the hearts of everyone in a five mile radius with the look on his face and the expression in his eyes? Or, the old lady down the street who is always there with a kind word and an understanding presence?
Use a different model for your character. Let’s say you’ve chosen to have an old lady for your story. She’s going to live next door to the family you’re writing about. Let’s also assume that that’s all you know about this character.
One way to get a fresh perspective on this character is to change your own perspective. The only thing you know for certain is that this character is old and lives nearby. With this in mind think of others that could be old and live nearby.
- An aged golden retriever that’s been faithful and gentle all her life. Her slightly coppery locks have grayed. Her step is more measured now. Her ability to rush is curtailed with age. She is always available for a hug, and she thinks nothing of spending an afternoon with anyone who needs a companion, to sooth and ease a hurt.
- An older Scot Terrier that doesn’t take guff from anyone for any reason. Female she might be, but tough, and knows her own mind. Short legs don’t keep her from taking long walks each day; even if they tire easily, she’ll push through to the end.
- An older mare that’s birthed her last foal and been put to graze and grow complacent in her last years. She stands at the fence looking to the west, her eyes seeing the wild herds that used to roam the plains and mountains, whose king stallion stands guard at the edge of his circled harem.
You choice of character models are endless, when you realize that all creatures as they age share common traits. By removing the “animal” from the model and concentrating on the behavior, the visible traits, your own story character takes on a new dimension. You could find these characters in your own home.
Remember that comic relief character? Can you think of models to give you a handle on such a role in your story? Here are three that might work.
- A Jack Russell Terrier. That’s the hyper pup on springs. If you don’t laugh at the antics of one of these little clowns, there’s no hope for your character.
- Chickens are comic creatures, often overlooked for their relief value. Watch a small flock during evening feeding of veggie scraps. Or, watch them tussle over the use of the swing or perch. They also have personalities.
- Wild birds during nesting season. They are a hoot; stealing each other’s nesting materials, poking each other, squabbling, all while trying to attract a mate.
Writers must look outside their usual views in order to keep their perspectives out of stereotype territory. One of the surest ways of doing that is to create different criteria for developing characters. Substituting aspects and traits of animals is one of the easiest methods for ensuing uniqueness.
Give yourself time in the park to watch those creatures that frequent it; ducks and geese on the pond, squirrels racing from tree to tree, or birds arguing back and forth. Go to a quiet wooded area and sit down next to a small stream. Wait in silence. You’ll find more inspiration that you know what to do with if you’re patient.
Come back and tell me of your adventures. Let me know how this process works for you. We can always discuss what you learn along the way.
Until then, a bientot,
- [Observations of the Fox] Exactitudes – A tool, an artform, a social comment (vulpinoid.blogspot.com)
- Home Theater: So, What’s in a Name? (2voices1song.com)
- Make ‘em Breathe (thewriteinspiration.wordpress.com)
- A Brief Lesson on How to Write Strong Characters (ifanboy.com)
- Hell on Eight Wheels: Fourteen – Traits from Observations of the Fox (vulpinoid.blogspot.com)
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