Character Flaws Part 2 - A Piece Of My Mind
Life's an adventure. Things have been pretty quiet for me lately. Good to get the old heart pumping again.—Cheyenne from The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (TV 1991)
Once you hear a metaphor of mine, you won't forget it. A dinosaur falling in love with a lighthouse, boom, there's your metaphor. Once you hear that, you say, "Gee, I got to read that, I wonder what happened?" All the great stories of the world are metaphorical, so they can be remembered. That's why so much stage writing and film writing today can't be remembered, because there are no metaphors. You can't tell the story when you come out of the theater. That's what's wrong with most modern fiction. Realism is what we already know. My job is to interpret realism, to turn it into metaphors, so you can swallow it. --Ray Bradbury
To create any sort of character is to get your story pumping in life. Characters are the great metaphor. You can create your own place that make your people live. Without having your stories growing with interesting people and ideas of characters, there is no reason to move a story. So what makes a character unique? Since I wrote last month's column, I have had many emails with many ideas about what make a character unique. I may address this soon. However, this column is on my reasons. I use many media examples from books and movies, which is easier for people to look up and see what I mean
Let me recap last month column reasons
1) Think of a unique hook in their name
2) Give the characters some sort of a handicap
3) Give your main character a partner or a sidekick
4) Give your Characters a career that will interest people in watching or reading about them
5) Give the main character a family
I do not always mean a mother and father, like the Simpsons, Father Knows Better or the Roseanne show. It is those side characters that help the hero(es). For a great example of this family unit concept, let’s use Classic Star Trek. Captain Kirk has two great sidekicks in guises of Spock and McCoy. However the good captain needs Chekov to state “It was a Russian Invention.” Scotty to make sure the ship runs well (and prove his job as a miracle worker) and Sulu to helm the Enterprise into space for their five year mission. In a modern day ideal and another genre, think Ed McBain's 87th Precinct books and novels. This is where a group of cops banded together to solve crimes. There is no sidekick mentality in these novels because cops are partner with different cops each story or novel. That’s another way to look at the Robert B Parker Spenser books…now written, since Parker's death, by the talented scribe Ace Atkins. In the novels, Spenser's sidekicks are Hawk and his girlfriend Susan. However Parker (and now Adkins) parade out supporting characters…Heroes and Villains from previous novel adventures to make a pseudo family unit.
6) Let a location be a piece of the main Character's DNA
What would the Martian Chronicles be without Mars? What would Spenser be without his beloved Boston? What would Sherlock Holmes be without London of the 1880's? What would Clark Kent be without his working at the Daily Planet in some way? What would the TV show Wild Wild West (James West) be without West's train? What would Hawaii Five-O be without Hawaii itself (in my opinion, it would be another cop show)? What would Batman be without his Gotham City (Most people would say the Bat-cave, I differ. He has done many locations over the years without his cave in some stories...but an idea like that is food for thought)? Star Trek's Kirk would be nothing without a Star-ship to lead? The television show Burn Notice or CSI Miami would be nothing without Miami as its heart and location. We know these Characters because of their locations. These people are realistic and concrete to you and I when we have the special place we know they are from. The hero has a place to call home. Also the location enhances the hero(es) home base, which spurs us to think with the character.
7) Take a fish out of familiar water
I do not want you to assume it contradicts my point seven. IT DOESN'T. Let’s use the character of Batman. He has his Gotham City location... However he has also traveled to other places and even in outer space. Some are comfortable leaving their locations, some are not...that is also what makes a great story. For a great example, there was a short lived show on the Fox network called Keen Eddie starting Mark Valley. The premise is a wisecracking N.Y. cop with no respect for authority, finds himself a fish out of water when he ends up being assigned to a police precinct in the U.K. Or take Madison the Mermaid in Ron Howard movie Splash. She swam under the sea of New York City to come to be on the streets of New York. Taking them out of their normal situations gives the author and reader change in character develop.
That is my lucky seven. I hope you like the list and develop great characters from them.
If you are looking for a chance to be involve in a book collection. Loving Hearts Live Forever volume two is seeking submissions.
This collection is non-fiction. This is from the ad blurb from Volume One... This is a collection of memories shared by family and friends of their loved ones who have gone to be with the Lord. The stories and poems in this book will bring laughter, tears, joy, and healing to all who read them. These moments are just a few reminders of the special qualities that we enjoyed while these loved ones were here.....Melody Ravert is the editor. You send submissions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE PROMPT OF THE MONTH
Since I mentioned Batman a few times in this month's column and the New Superman and Wolverine movies are upon us soon…This is this month’s prompt is: If someone gave you or bestowed upon you a super power of some sort. What would it be? What would you use it for?
So until next time Reach for the Stars
Columnist: Bennet Pomerantz has covered the Audio medium for the last 20 years. He has syndicated newspaper columns, AUDIOWORLD and "Movies of Your Mind", in Affaire De Coeur Magazine. In which he showcase his vast and diverse knowledge of the spoken word medium.
He is also known as a media review critic (books, music, graphic novels, DVDs, CDs) in his weekly syndicated newspaper column "A Piece of the Page". He also is a ranked media reviewer for Amazon.com. http://www.facebook.com/bennet.pomerantz1 / E-mail: email@example.com