Friday, December 10, 2010

Character Type Challenge

Author Jeremy C. Shipp put a game on his Facebook wall. You have to choose 15 fictional characters, who have influenced you, in 15 minutes. I jotted down mine on the back of a handy envelope. (Accidently chose too many, though.) I was just sitting here barking at my kids to do their math and browsing what I wrote and noticed I have a pattern. I am attracted to five main types of characters: sacrificial, insane, clever, roguish, and reluctant monster types. Some, if not all, of the characters I picked fell into more than one category.

Orpheus and Euridice
Samwise (Lord of The Rings)
Orpheus (Greek myth)
Simon (Lord of the Flies)
Sally (Nightmare Before Christmas) -she's also pretty darn clever

Arabella (The Female Quixote)
Ophelia (Hamlet) - She might fall somewhat into the "sacrificial/tragic" category.

The Doctor
Dirk Gently (Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency)
Martin ("Unicorn Variation")
Father Brown (Father Brown Mysteries)
Doctor Who (particularly as played by Tom Baker) -also a bit of the rogue in him

Spider (Anansi Boys)
Tom (Syzygy- yeah, I put my own character on the list) -He'd also fit into "sacrificial" and kinda-sorta "reluctant monster"


Reluctant Monster:
Hellboy (various comics, books, movies)
Mr. Canis (The Sister's Grimm)
Dr. Jekyll (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)

 Then there was Mad-Eye Moody (from Harry Potter- books and films) and I wasn't sure where to put him. He's clever, sacrificial, and even has much of the reluctant monster just because of his appearance and grumpiness, though he doesn't go into insane animalistic frenzies.

Anyway, you can make your own list and see what sort you're attracted to. But the main thing is- how does it influence our writing? What sort of characters do you create? We need to be careful not to recycle the same characters, but with different names, story after story because we're hooked on a certain type. As you can see, a writer can mix up the types for more variety and to create complex characters.

Maybe challenge yourself and create a character of a type you never have before. Maybe a type that's not even on your list! If you do make your own list I'd love to see it. (I have a hunch Jeremy would too. So drop by his page to comment on his character game note or his author page to get news on his amazing stories!)

Sally says, "Have a Happy Christmas."


Marian Allen said...

I can easily think of 15 fictional characters I can easily think of ... Wait .... You know what I mean. And I can easily think of 15 fictional characters I like. But thinking of characters who have influenced me ... that, I can't do in 15 minutes. I loved all the main characters in Heinlein's HAVE SPACE SUIT, WILL TRAVEL, but did any of them influence me? I'd have to study on that for a while.

Kinds of characters I tend to write:

Wise-cracker who is better than he/she thinks he/she is

Old person who has some hard-won wisdom but is far from perfect


People who are virtuous by choice, not necessarily by natural inclination

People who are misjudged and deal with it

Villains who are "evil" and heroes who are "good" in an off-hand way--as a side effect of pursuing their goals

Villains who think they're perfectly justified -- even laudable -- in what they're doing

--And I agree with you: Sally is an AWESOME character!

Marian Allen

nissa_ami_kato said...

Any blog post that has pictures of the Fourth Doctor and Mad-Eye Moody is jake with me....

Would you think less of me if I told you that the first fictional character that popped into my mind was Dexter Morgan from Jeff Lindsay's Dexter books?

You know, the serial killer who only preys on other serial killers? But don't worry, it's not the serial killer part that influences me, it's that he's an outsider, doesn't fit in, doesn't even consider himself a human, but has learned to act like a human.

Has Dexter influenced my writing? Well, Takgu, one of the three main characters of 'Shepherd of Altan, is a involuntarily retired hit man, who would only accept contracts on gangsters and bad guys 'cause killing the innocent puts him in a bad mood. Hadn't really thought about that before.

Amie Kaufman said...

Oh, Mr Canis! I have just discovered him in the past week, and it's love at first bite... uh, sight. I'm off to read the rest of the series.

This is such fun food for thought! I'm going to have to make up my own list!

Abby Minard said...

I saw this going around on FB too, and was thinking of blogging abut it. Good choices- I'll have to think about mine.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

@Marian~ Maybe for some of mine "influenced" is too strong. They just stuck in my brain.

Oh yes, wise-cracker who's better than he/she thinks he is. For sure one of my favorites!

You're whole list is food for thought. Making notes to enhance my character repertoire.

@Nissa~ LOL thanks!
That sounds like a very interesting character. I wouldn't dismiss a character just because he's a killer.

@Amie~ Yay! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who loves Mr. Canis. Well, my girls like him too. We're on the fourth book.

@Abby~ I can't wait to read your list. This was and continues to be so much fun and I think helpful to writing as well.

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