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20 Feb 2012

Same Old, Same Old

So last week when I was collecting articles for News to Novels I came across Alex the Glamour Girl/Psychic and it got me thinking of characters and creating them.  I've had a terrible habit of creating characters in the past who are the same and I'm trying to stop that, making tons of notes on each character I come up with to get a variety.

My typical character was usually ambitious with their sights on university.  They were in between popularity and unpopularity at school and the male characters in particular always ended up grunge.  I never wrote about other characters.  I guess going to university was generally the norm.  Everyone in my year group was applying.  That's where they wanted to go.  And with the male characters I couldn't really bring myself to have a male character who likes that arse showing trend that some are obsessed with at the mo.  Couldn't even write a character who likes rap or hip hop.  Silly really because I feel as a writer you got to give a story to everyone.

That's why I really took to this article.  There's more to a person, even ones who look like vanity is everything to them.  Even my housemate who was also obsessed with her looks and yet her previous hobbies had included boxing and she liked watching sports.  Alex was a self-proclaimed psychic with an interest and involvement with the occult.  She claimed to see ghosts that terrified her growing up and she's upset that it always ruins a relationship, something she would love.  There was more to her than a glamour girl.  Have I ever created a character like that? No.  Why? Maybe I'm also worried about them being unlikable if they have tendencies to be chavvy or vain.  Characters can be hated because of the tiniest thing.  Such as:

She wants to just be a wife and mother.  How disgraceful!

Eurgh, they act like such a chav.

OMG they have sex! OMG they don't have sex!

I've seen "chavs" who took law and chemistry.  I've seen a bitchy girl admit she wants to be a writer because she wants to write stories that her little sister would enjoy.  I've seen people wanting to go on apprenticeships or go through alternate education routes because university isn't the right path for them or go straight into work, ready to earn.

I need to remember to give a story to everyone.  And not be afraid that they'll be unlikeable because they obsess over looks or not into academics.  People are different so why can't they be different in novels? I'm going to challenge myself to fashion different teenagers for novels in the future.  Find a story for them. 


  1. Sounds like a great article! Thanks for sharing your insights.

    Tag, you're it! I've tagged you for a meme, should you choose to accept :)

  2. We do tend toward characters that are most like us, or have traits we admire, don't we? They're easier to write, after all! But I think it's always a challenge to write characters that are unlike us--perhaps even characters we would never get along with in real life. It's a good exercise both in writing, and in tolerance, to try to get inside such a person's head and figure out what makes them tick. Why are they this way? Would they rather be something else? Or do they think this is the right way to be and everyone else is wrong? How do they view other people?

    I did this for characters in my still-being-shopped-to-agents novel, and it was a very enlightening experience. :)

  3. I have the exact same problem, making characters who are too similar to each other. Particularly with my girl MCs. But I tried to change the girl in my current WIP, and it just didn't work. Oh well

  4. Thanks Lora!

    @Colin, these are times when I wish I studied psychology. I find it fascinating getting into people's minds and finding out why they're the way they are and who they really are.

    Sage you bring up a good point there. It's not just about creating different characters just for the sake of looking versatile. It's also about finding the right personality and if it's better for the character to be quiet and shy when you want her/him to be loud and an extrovert then that's also important to take into consideration.