Friday, April 11, 2008

Character without a story

Most of the time I begin a project with a plot in mind. Then, I add the characters. I hadn't realized that point until very recently when an interviewer asked the question, "Which comes first? Character or plot?"

Me, with my warped sense of humor, wanted to say, "The chicken. Of course!" I didn't say that. But I definitely thought it. Told you, warped.

But now that I've realized how most stories evolve for me, I'm faced with a dilemma. You see, on Wednesday I met someone who's just begging for a place in a story. Just. Begging. He doesn't know it, but he's one of the quirkiest people I've ever met -- and let me tell you, I've met a boatload of quirky in my time. This guy? He almost takes the cake.

Now I don't generally base characters on real people. That would be dull as dirt. Better to form them from thin air, and much more fun. Fun for me, I mean. I do, however, pull characteristics from real people into imagined characters. I'm sure everyone does. A twitch from the lady at the grocery counter. The rasping throat noise an insurance agent makes while he fills out a form. The cornflower blue eyes sparkling brightly in an elderly woman's face when she smiles at me. All little things, but they make a difference in the fullness of characters in a story.

Once in a while, I hit the jackpot and find someone who's so out there they could furnish a whole army of characters. This week, the bells and whistles went off the instant. I knew, as soon as I heard his voice, that I'd met the King of Quirk.

Trouble is, he's a character without a story.

Just when I'm nearly finished with the story I'm working on, this guy shows up. The King of Quirk, delivered with a red bow on his head. Great. What am I going to do with him? I ask you, what? What? What?

You know, don't you? This guy? He needs a story.

And I thought I was going to take a break. Go figure.


Marianne Arkins said...

A BREAK??? hahahahahahaha....

Anonymous said...

OMG, for someone to strike you funny he's got to be something special. Would love to see him myself. :^)


Melissa McClone said...

You'll figure it out! I've had characters waiting for stories. One day, it's there and we're all finally happy!

Anonymous said...

No breaks! I've discovered that the more your work, the more the ideas come. It's why you should never hold anything back for a later book. Something better will come along.

Can't wait to read his story.

Dru said...

His story is there...I can't wait to read it.