LIVING UP TO THEIR EXPECTATIONS
What do the characters we write about want, need, expect and wish for? Our characters emerge from our imaginations, and like their writers, they would like to be someone a reader thinks about, discusses with friends, and recognizes after the last page of the novel ends.
The baddie prefers to be a multi-dimensional scoundrel—a rakish fellow—someone the reader finds attractive. Does he despair of ever being understood and ask you to blame his childhood, his parents or his genes? Did someone inflict an injury that made her vow revenge? Is she immoral? Reprehensible? Why? She/he doesn’t want to be typecast and become a common, everyday stereotype.
Heroines grow bored with being buxom blondes or innocent big-eyed waifs—they need that special something that can be hard to name. It? Sex Appeal? Depth? A touch of wild ginger? A sense of humor?
Our heroes want more than divine ancestry, courage, money, and a body to drool over. Intelligence is requested—more of those “Little gray cells,” Hercule Poirot talks about.
And what of our secondary characters—they have their needs too. Casting directors are fond of saying,” There are no small parts, only small actors.”
We are asked to insert a quirk, a tick, a line that enables our less important characters to keep the chapter and plot going. Tidbits that will make the auxiliary individual stand out without overshadowing the principals.
Let’s give them what they ask for.