As a writer, I certainly hope so. I spend a great deal of time dealing with fictional characters in my head ... just clamoring to be let loose on the unsuspecting public.
- An ancient vegan with soulful eyes, colorful skirts, and a knife strapped to her thigh.
- A blind tween with a shaved head, gauge earring, penchant for combat boots and 4.0 report card.
- The short, stout violin player wearing a gray fedora and carrying a ratty backpack filled with all his worldly possessions.
There are so many quirky individuals clattering around in my brain, they wake me up at night. What makes a character memorable and sleep-depriving ... one that readers will be rooting for or against, even in their dreams?
#1 Tip - Kill the STEREOTYPES: "Jock," "homecoming queen," "nerd," "band geek." Odds are, an image for each came immediately to mind. But no real person is so stale ... so cliched. To avoid dropping your character into the same worn out, stereotypical human stew, you must present him or her in a different light. Add the quirky (just like me) and delve deeper. Let's use "nerd" as the example. If you pictured a freckled girl with thick glasses, no makeup (nor sense of humor), a Peter Pan collar, and sensible shoes, you've just hopped the drab train to trite town. Perhaps, instead, your "nerd" hides her smarts behind leather, a plunging neckline, and musky perfume? Perhaps your male "nerd" actually hates math (despite earning him a full ride to Princeton after that perfect score on the SAT). Secretly, he wants to win "American Idol" and dresses in drag every weekend while singing 80s tunes in falsetto at an open mic gig in the next town over. Perhaps your adult "nerd" wears those sensible shoes as an accountant by day, but dons ice skates and pads at night as the only female goalie at the local ice hockey rink. Use your imagination.Truly, there is more to every person you meet, or every character you create, than meets the eye. No two people or characters are alike. DON'T be lazy and spew out the same ol', same ol'.
Writing Challenge #1 - For giggles, check out this handy "List of Stock Characters," on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_stock_characters. Pick three different stock characters and attempt to combine them (Example: hotshot/gentleman thief/tortured artist - our risk-taker engages in jewelry heists so he can create sparkly, jewel-laden pottery). Write a short description of your morphed character. Include physical attributes, name, job title, typical wardrobe found in the character's closet, what the character would eat for breakfast, most embarrassing event from childhood, biggest fear, and what that character most desires in life. Keep this to no more than 200-300 words. BE CREATIVE.
Writing Challenge #2 - Morph 3 DIFFERENT stock characters to create your first morphed character's arch nemesis. Follow the same guidelines from writing challenge #1.
Don't forget, add a dash of quirky. Your character will thank you.