How can you create a compelling character if you don't know who you are?
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Are cliche's getting a bad rap?
So you're stuck. You need to create a character and you got nothing. Zip. Nada. Nyetski. The muse is on hiatus and the deadline approaches. What do you do? What do you do?
This is where a tried and true character may be a gift to you. Especially if you use it as a jumping off point with the very simple question - "why?"
Let's say you are playing a cheerleader and nothing fresh comes to mind. All you can think of is a vacuous brainless bubble. "But everybody does cheerleaders that way!"
Maybe. But they don't have that magical question do they? They don't know to ask themselves, "Why?" But you do! Ha!
"Why is she a bubble?" She's exhausted and hepped up on caffiene. Why is she exhausted? She slays vampires? (wait already been done - but do you see how just a few simple "why's" can spin you into a new direction). She can also be exhausted cause she's really a klutz and she has to practice 24/7. Why is she a cheerleader then? Cause she has one artifical leg and she's trying to overcompensate.
Or she's exhausted cause her parents are fighting all the time and its put her on the verge of tears. Why are her parents fighting? They are spies from another planet.
I know, I know, you want to ground this in reality. But don't fight the cliches. Especially if you're stuck. They can be a great place to begin.
This works in writing too. And life. How many times do we judge someone based on what they look like or do? And if we were to take it one step farther, ask why are they that way, maybe we could have more compassion. Hmmmm. Or at least laugh at ourselves....