Wounded Characters Part I by Nancy Brophy
I prefer to write about dysfunctional families – crazy parents and imperfect siblings. Emotions so closely interwoven that loving doesn’t eliminate killing.
None of us want to admit that it is our families who make us who we are. Imagine the difference in the personality of a woman who is the daughter of June and Ward Cleaver verses the daughter of Dan and Roseanne Connor. We identify with certain characters. For me, that was the niece, Marilyn, on the television show, The Munsters, because she was the normal one in a family of the truly bizarre.
Family is important, so important, in fact, that a lot of writers have the hero/heroine as orphans. Because as a writer, you can’t just end with ‘the parents were insane’ - you have to show it. Erratic personalities are more fun to write, but also have a tendency to take over every scene. The heroine throws up her hands in disgust and walks off. The hero/heroine never come together, and the romance author (who really liked the crazy one better than the heroine anyway) has to shelve that story under the bed. At least, that’s how it happens in my life.
I once read a review of The Ya-Ya Sisterhood author, Rebecca Wells. The reviewer gushed about how lucky the author had been. She had both an insane family, and she lived in Louisiana.
Comedic movies have changed in the past few years. The physical comedy of plat falls is no longer prevalent. Now we are seeing more and more comedies based upon what I call the “pathetic or loser” character as portrayed by Steve Carell, Jason Segel or Seth Rogan, and they are successful because most of us identify with the kid always chosen last for the team.
This is not intended as a political statement, but do you identify with the politician worth $250,000,000.00 who addresses the people, as “we, the middle class”? I want to know what part of the middle class he thinks he is. Or the comedian who claims to be fifteen degrees off cool and thinks the Pentagon would reject him because he drives a scooter?
In my life, I’m closer to driving a scooter than having the big bucks. (Private donations accepted. We take Visa and MasterCard.)
Your characters must come to you with invisible wounds. As writers, we must flesh out those ancient injuries and expose them to the world. By putting a face to the wound, we make it human and lovable.
Characters without wounds have no story.
Next Friday: Social Economic factors that affect your character’s development.
Posted on November 18, 2011, in Nancy Brophy and tagged Nancy Brophy, menopause, writing about love, memories, Rebecca Wells, The Munsters, wounded characters in writing. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.