Dare to Stand Out Photo by Jamie Wilson Dreamstime.com
What do the characters we write about want, need, expect and wish for? Our characters emerge from our imaginations and, like their creators, they would like to be someone a reader thinks about, discusses with friends, and recognizes after the last page of the novel where he or she resides is reluctantly closed.
The baddie prefers to be a multi-dimensional scoundrel—a rakish fellow—perhaps someone the reader finds attractive. Does he despair of ever being understood and does he ask you to blame his childhood, his parents or his genes? Did someone do something that made her vow revenge? Is she immoral? Reprehensible? Why? She/he certainly doesn’t want to be a common, everyday stereotype.
Heroines tire of being just another buxom, big-bosomed blonde or an innocent, big-eyed waif—they need that special something that no one can name. It? Sex appeal? Depth? Perhaps a touch of wild ginger?
Our heroes want more than divine ancestry, muscles, courage and a body to drool over. They often request intelligence—more of those “Little gray cells,” Hercule Poirot talks about.
And what of our secondary characters, they yearn to be noticed. Casting directors are fond of saying, “There are no small parts, only small actors.” We are asked to insert a quirk, a tick, a line that enables the secondary character to keep the chapter and plot going. Tidbits that will make the person stand out without overshadowing the plot or the principals.
Do you give your characters what they ask for?