Utterly Unique

That's You, and It's Me

We are all unique, so how anyone ever sees a person who reminds them of another is amazing. And how we recall faces and names is such an enormous undertaking, I can't really understand why I feel let-down enough to apologise when I don't recognise someone I haven't seen for ages, after they bump into me in the supermarket and expect me to remember their life history. Especially as they demonstrate their inability to remember mine.

Making People Up

Creating characters. That's what fiction-writers do. And those made-up people have to be utterly unique. Or supposedly so. Using bits of Bob and the mannerisms of Martin to describe your leading man is rife with pitfalls. Hence the damage limitation on the title sheet. 

It goes like this...I didn't mean to use someone with the same name as your father who happens to also love fishing for trout in the River Dee and always drinks his whisky neat. It was an accident as I don't even know your father...unless he's that dude I rammed with my trolley in Sainsburys last week. Certainly, the way that man overreacted gave me an idea for how my hero will behave when so-and-so does something-or-other happens...

this teaching resource site shows exactly what
the character creation process is like
- in this case, for school pupils -

Showing Without Telling

Creating characters that are winning and wonderful is a marvellous mix of playing God and having a Mastermind database of a brain. Even the tiniest mole on that woman's face might one day give me the perfect reason for my heroine to be in Harley Street on that particular day and that time...not at home when her husband calls in during the afternoon to surprise her and finds she is not in the house, nor the garden and she isn't answering her mobile. 

That one small mole is a physical trait but how it is used on and by the characters, as part of my storyline; how he or she reacts; what decisions are made...all these elements will show my reader what is going on. I leave them with the work of joining the clues and mannerisms to make a picture of my characters in their heads as they read. 

Telling Without Showing

I could tell you exactly how my characters look, speak, they behave in many situations...who they enjoy being with and what that person looks like...who it is that they hate, as well. And the result will be bland and unedifying to both me as the author and you as the reader.

My characters have to be Utterly Unique in appearance and in the way they function as Human Beings/Human Doings. But, unless I try my hand at sci-fi, they are likely to remind you of someone-real-or-other...but you won't be bumping into them in the supermarket.

Unless, of course, one of my books (the ones I haven't yet completed at time of writing) is ever televised or screened. In which case, I hope there are actors out there who are uniquely placed to play MY characters.

Note: yes, it has been months since I last wrote a post on DD&OW. I've just come out of three years of various surgeries, recoveries and difficult days. I did not have cancer so there is no need to ponder further. It is just good to be back.