Wednesday, June 16

Getting Inside Your Characters Head: Easy-Peazy or Oh, Puh-leaze!!

Just one question here... Are you effing serious???

Insane guy in picture above aside... As odd as it sounds, I find it easier - and more fun - to get to know my antagonist (villain). I enjoy getting to toying with the different aspects of the "bad guy". He has no limits to his evil deeds, the despicable way he behaves, or the words he speaks. He is the ideal character.

I find that I have very little problems when it comes to getting inside my antagonist's mind. His essence flows easily, I know exactly what he wants, what to take from him, and how to bend him to my will.

So why is it that my other characters are harder to understand?

Maybe it's because I despise the "cookie-cutter" heroine who is beautiful, sweet, every man wants her and every woman envies her, she bakes apple pies for the fundraisers and drives the elderly to the store. It's a fine line to walk with adding just the right amount of quirks to her. I'd prefer her to have a scar across her neck and a "not putting up with anyone's shit" attitude, but do readers really want that?

And the hero... I don't do the "I am Tarzan, hear me roar" type. I don't want him to be a whipped loser that gets ran over by the heroine, or anyone else. And he has to steer clear of any resemblance of "I am the man, you will cook for me, wait on me hand and foot, jump when I say go and if I say you can't go shopping you better keep you ass at home" mentality.

I've just gotten so burnt out on these fictional worlds where only perfect beautiful people are introduced. Have I allowed my resentment of this to stunt the growth of my main characters? Is my problem the fact that I refuse to allow the "good guys" to talk to me, as open and honest as they need to? Do I try to fit them in my own version of a "anti cookie-cutter" that I'm not allowing them to be themselves? I'm starting to see it that way.

One of my all time favorite books - simply because of the characters in it - is Karen Templeton's What a Man's Gotta Do This is the first book I can ever remember reading that didn't have your typical hero/heroine in it. It's also one of the few books I can reread countless times.

Okay, don't get me wrong. I still want the hero to be hot. And I don't want to see a heroine that can give Hatchett Face (from Cry Baby) a run for her money. And, yes, I know that writing has grown a lot, but me -personally - have I let my hangups enter into my writing? Therefore becoming a thorn in my own side? Me thinkest so!

What about you? Have you let your own hangups affect your writing? If so in what way and how did you overcome it?


Melissa said...

You might have. I mean, I know for a while I tried to point my characters in the direction I wanted them to go but that just stopped them from being themselves. It's hard but you have to give all your characters an equal opportunity to speak to you. Try to put aside what you want and just listen to them, they might surprise you.

Suzie said...

I really think I'm trying to keep them on too tight a leash. It's not going to be an easy habit to break, but I'm going to have to try.

stu said...

I suppose the difficulty is that the efforts to make them real can spill over into them becoming ordinary.

Beware of just adding quirks though. A passion for rare butterflies does not a well rounded character make. If you want to add oddities, look for things that make some comment on the central ideas of your novel/character.