Thursday, May 26, 2011

Complicated Characters

My large, lovely dog
Two years ago, a twenty-something gentleman bought the house next door to mine, and our dogs became friends. Sometimes while our large, rumbly-tumbly dogs play, my neighbor and I chat. We discussed our occupations once, and my neighbor's job intrigued me. (Let your imagination work up some possibles).

*Thinking. Imagining. Conjuring.*

The reveal: My neighbor is a professional poker player. Not just a guy who flips out the poker table on Friday nights with his buddies, but a guy who plays poker for a living. It's how he pays his bills and buys dog food.

ESPN poker players. Let's see. Quiet and brooding. Expressionless eyes or perhaps dark sunglasses shading the eyes altogether. Al Capone-like hat or maybe a baseball cap pulled low. Shifty, shady character who haunts the night. Alcoholic beverage always close at hand.

That is not my professional poker playing neighbor. He smiles freely, never wears hats or sunglasses, chats more than most women I know, is responsible and respectful, his 'lights out' time is usually earlier than mine, and he takes in foster dogs as well as loving his own.

So, what's my point? It's nothing new, but it's worth contemplating: People are complicated characters; they never fit into a jello-mold and are never a perfectly shaped bundt cake. And the characters in our stories should be complicated folks too. Are yours? And how do you add character to your characters?

4 comments:

  1. So true!! You have make the character rounded and complex. A real person.

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  2. I like to give my characters weird quirks, like being afraid of loud noises.

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  3. Lisa and bfav, right now a note in my writing notebook says "flesh characters" - because I'm still spitting out the WIP but I know my characters need *more* when revising comes.

    taio: thank you for stopping in!

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