Daily Archives: October 3, 2006

Characters Everywhere we go

Too busy yesterday with yard work to post, but I couldn’t resist the topic of personality traits. Like Aaron, it amazes me that answering a few simple questions can tell people so much about you. A few years ago I read a book compiled by a woman who was once a jury consultant. You know, those people who tell defense teams why they don’t want the mother of four, but will settle for the five-time divorced construction worker with a bad back.

One of the examples the author discussed was men who fix their hair. How telling! I know a young man who never leaves the house until every hair is in place. He spends more time in front of the mirror than 5 women and a fortune on hair care products. Reading that passage was as though the author sat this young man down and talked with him for an hour. She described his passions, his dislikes, his job, and yes, Aaron, even the car he drove.

I am currently working on my 7th fiction work. A concern of mine at this point is that my characters do not become carbon copies of all the others. We all know writers are gigantic ego maniacs. Whether intentionally or not, it’s impossible to keep ourselves completely out of our characters. They get annoyed over the same things that bother us, they discipline their children the way we believe in, and if we jog or listen to Classical music or sleep in on the weekends, our characters usually will too. Argue with me over this point if you must, but you know I’m right. You may mix things up once in a while, but you care so much about your characters because they were created in your image.

So how do I keep my characters fresh? How do I keep from littering my prose with the same old quiet, quirky, clumsy, silly, grumpy, non-confrontational, pro-life, tooth-flossing, hair obsessed, too much salt on the popcorn who doesn’t like to share, poor housekeepers who love dogs and pecan pie?

Solution: I can’t. Fortunately God has created us to be such multi-faceted individuals and filled our lives with equally fascinating, diverse individuals, we have enough material to fill a library of books.

Teresa Slack

Leave a comment

Filed under On Writing