Saturday, July 8, 2017

INDEPENDENT CHARACTERS by Jane Kelley


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men CHARACTERS are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator [The Author] with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

I mean no disrespect to one of our county's most sacred documents. I think it provides a useful metric for writers. Our characters SHOULD have rights. I'm not one of those writers who believes that her characters have minds of their own. But I do believe that if I create them well enough, they DECLARE THEIR INDEPENDENCE from whatever plot I might have planned and the book is all the better for it.  

Let's see whether I gave my most recent character, Clint McCool, these unalienable Rights. 

LIFE -- The scientific definition of life is having a capacity for growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction. We'll skip reproduction (although we certainly hope for sequels and movie rights). But our characters should react to whatever trouble we throw at them. And we hope they grow because of that. Sorry, Clint McCool, but it was absolutely necessary to ban you from the movie set and make you wear a dress. That adversity made you a real hero.

LIBERTY -- the power of choice.  Wait, isn't that contradictory? Didn't I just say that for Clint's own good, he HAD to put on a dress? Actually, at that point in the story, he had the power to choose. But if he wanted to be in the movie, he had to wear the dress. 

PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS -- They need to WANT something and go after it, even if they don't have the best idea of what will bring them happiness. Clint McCool WANTS TO BE IN THAT MOVIE. He nearly destroys it and ruins his friendships in his effort to get what he wants. Until he grows, makes a better choice, and saves the day!

Here he is -- outside of the books! (Jessika von Innerebner, the illustrator of Clint McCool, made that magic possible.) But I believe that together we created an Independent Character.


1 comment:

  1. Really helps to see your character as a PERSON to think of them this way, doesn't it?

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