Monday, April 1, 2013

THE CRUELEST THING - CHARACTER BUILDING (HOLLY SCHINDLER)

I'll admit, I've been pretty cruel to my characters in the past.  I gave Aura, the MC of my debut YA, a schizophrenic mother (who is, as the book opens, in the midst of a downward spiral into the darkness of her illness), and I gave Chelsea, the MC of my second YA, a horrific injury that put a screeching halt to her basketball career. 

...But in putting together a recent post for a blogger (Me, My Shelf, and I) who's running a 25-Things-You-Don't-Know-About-Me series, I was suddenly struck by the idea that maybe, we build our characters through unique quirks and traits as much as we build them through the events of a book. 

Here's my own list of 25-Things-Few-Know-About-Me:


1.      My first concert was Kiss.  I’m firmly convinced this is the reason behind my deep wish that all author events could have more pyro.

2.      I have a dog named Jake who likes to talk on the phone.  (I’m pretty sure he gets more calls than I do.)

3.      I have never pierced my ears—and thanks to the kind words of a boy I knew in high school, I never will.

4.      In the hopes that I could guilt my mom into buying me contacts, I once bought the UGLIEST pair of glasses I could find (this was in the ‘80s, mind you, at the height of ugly glasses).  Didn’t work—as my horrific seventh grade picture reveals…and will continue to reveal, for all eternity.

5.      I change my hairdos like I change my socks.

6.      I drafted my earliest manuscripts on a pre-Internet dinosaur of a computer from the Paleolithic Era.

7.      Funky vintage costume jewelry?  Yes, please.

8.      Given the choice between writing and eating cheesecake, I’ll pick writing.  (Anyone who understands my fanatical love of cheesecake understands the seriousness of this declaration.)

9.      I truly wish Sally Hansen would make a manicure-friendly keyboard.

10.  I swear you’ll never see skies prettier than the ones I see through my window every day in the Ozarks.

11.  I “work” on manuscripts while taking walks.

12.  I once got lost in a wooded area while filming a book trailer.

13.  My mom is my first reader, sounding board, and official book titler.

14.  I’ve been drinking coffee since my pre-preschool days.  Not a typo.

15.  I type really fast.  Think “Flight of the Bumblebee” on a keyboard.

16.  I once worked as a model.  Favorite gig?  Modeling fresh flowers.

17.  I have double-joined elbows.

18.  My debut YA novel, A BLUE SO DARK, features poetry I wrote as a teen, tweaked to fit the events of the book.

19.  My handwriting is so bad, my family often calls from the store to ask me to translate my entries on the grocery list.

20.  I blame the choice of many former boyfriends on my 20/700 vision.

21.  I dig people who treat their pets like royalty.

22.  My favorite place to write is on my back deck, barefoot, with my dog and a glass of sweet tea.

23.  I love the smell of hyacinths.

24.  I adored the hair bands as a teen—and still have the motorcycle jacket to prove it.

25.  I believe laughing is the most important activity of every day.

 
I think this list starts to paint a pretty vivid picture...

What do you think?  What's most important: revealing our characters through the events of the book or through their idiosyncrasies?  Or do they share equal importance?

5 comments:

  1. Good question, Holly! I would say events are like the main course of a meal - it's what a hungry reader comes for and they are vital to revealing a character's heart and personality. But a character's idiosyncrasies are the scintillating spices that make that dish so tasty and inviting!

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  2. I won't try to top Trudi's answer, but I will say ... #6 and #11. Totally identify with those, only #6, mine was an IBM Selectric. And #11, hard to write without them.(Oh, and though I don't touch coffee now, #14.)

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    1. GASP. No coffee? I honestly don't know how I'd exist. But this is coming from the gal who drank a cup every morning before heading to preschool, so, you know...

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    2. Long story about the coffee. We'll meet one day and I'll tell you...

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