A while back I took a course on creating characters from a duo who are very respected in the writing field. I was all fired up because I wanted to learn how to create memorable characters. That’s what the brochure promised. Memorable characters.
The course turned ou to be everything the brochure promised. And it was all wrong for me.
I was told to dig down, drill down, do whatever was needed to get inside my character’s head and find that horrible, terrible, tragic or whatever other awful adjective I could come up with that caused a visceral, negative change in my characters and led to the motivations behind their actions in my story.
Problem was, I don’t particularly like horrible, terrible, tragic or whatever other awful adjective I could come up with in my main characters. I like normal.
Perhaps because I had a normal childhood. Perhaps because at one time I taught emotionally disturbed children and learned that, though most people have bad experiences, they get past them and become normal once more. Usually it takes a lot of work, but they do. I believe in that, I passionatly believe that normal triumphs over abnormal.
Whatever the reason, I choose not to write about tragic, terribly, horribly flawed characters.
So what to do?
There’s another way to find characters. Wonderful characters. Normal characters. Alfred Hitchcock used it. He wrote stories about normal people in abnormal situations. Anne Macffrey used it. Her pithy description of how to plot a story goes something like this: ‘Jack has his fanny in a bear trap and the story is getting him out.’
I like those kinds of characters. I can relate to Jack, a nice, normal boy who, unfortunately, is in a bear trap. I think most people out there can relate to him, too.
Normal people in abnormal situations. Great characters. Great stories.

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