Tuesday, June 7, 2011
WHAT'S YOUR CHARACTER'S CHARACTER?
By Mark Terry
I’ve been thinking a lot about characters -what makes them memorable, what doesn’t. I honestly don’t have an answer about why one character will stay in your mind and others don’t. I’m also not 100% sure why some readers – often critics – will complain about a lack of character development when readers rave about how much they like the character.
That sort of thing’s a balancing act for the writer. And my way of dealing with Derek’s flaws is not to think of them as flaws or even character traits. I just figure out what Derek stands for, what it is his goals and reason for being is, and then put him in situations that test those goals. The character’s there, now let’s see how he reacts.
Put it another way, borrowing from the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, Captain Jack Sparrow, rather tired of Will Turner’s complaints and criticisms, puts him out on the yardarm (I guess, maybe it’s the boom) and says, “The only rules that really matter are these: what a man can do and what a man can’t do. For instance, you can accept that your father was a pirate and a good man or you can’t.”
And as the writer of your flawed character – perhaps very, very flawed character – you need to decide what you can or cannot accept.