There was one panel on writing at Megacon, and during that panel, an audience member asked how much ‘real life’ did they have to give their characters?
Enough to make them seem like real people.
Like those of us who actually have to deal with problems and issues, your characters need some, too. Let’s examine 3 recent, consecutive days in my life, and see if anything is applicable to a character.
Day 1 – Went to a water park, but forgot to take my sunscreen with me (left it right there, by the front door, as I walked out) and got sunburned. If your character is described as ‘pale’ or ‘freckled’, and you place them in the sun for hours, but they don’t sunburn, they won’t seem real. I have one character who, challenged to an all-day cross-country marathon by a couple American Indian crewmates while on planetside R&R, put on a sunsuit (think UV-blocking leotard with gloves and helmet) in order to avoid a sunburn. If you don’t want this character to have this problem, don’t have them forget their sunblock.
Day 2 – Heard a ‘funny noise’ every time the car brakes were applied. Turned out to be nothing, but what would be the consequences if your character heard the noise? Would they take the time to have it checked out and miss something important when they aren’t on stake out? Or would their brakes fail while chasing (or being chased by) the bad guy?
Day 3 – Was reminded by my car to ‘change oil soon’. This used to be an idiot light on the dash, now it flashes on the radio screen. And according to the reminder sticker on my windshield, I still had 1000 miles before I needed to do that, which could take 10 weeks to put on my car. If your character ignores this ‘gentle’ reminder, gets so used to it being on his radio screen, how long before his engine seizes up?
So, when you come to it, ‘real life’ issues can not only add dimension to your character, but also add complications to your plot. Pick your issues well, and use them wisely.
Will be driving home next Sunday, so might not get a blog posted until Monday. See you then. Trudy