Friday, July 28, 2017

Cardboard Cutout Characters

So we're down to the final conflict against the Low Dwellers in this Camp NaNo story. It still doesn't have a name. I'm open to suggestions. At the moment, it's not super exciting, I guess. They've managed to take out two Low Dwellers, but Catherine is just sort of running through there, getting rescued.

Now, this is a romance story. She's supposed to be the main character. So at this point she needs to woman up and be the heroine of her own damn story. She needs to take a level in badass.

Upon realizing this last night, my first thought was "Kill Nick." See, then she'd have to step up. But we can't do that. Because, again, this is ostensibly a romance story, and it's supposed to have a happy ending. Meaning I can't kill off one half of the couple before they even get together.

As for her being the main character, well, you couldn't tell from the story. She's not even introduced first. It's like… imagine the story's focus to be your actual, physical field of view. The main character is the one you're looking directly at. The natural thing for me to do is focus on Nick, for whatever reason. He's more interesting. So I attempted to not do that, and instead of shifting my focus to Catherine, I ended up staring awkwardly at nothing, watching the whole thing unfold in my peripheral. Now nobody's the main character. This is a problem.

And obviously it's my fault that Catherine's not very interesting. I created her. And I neglected to give her, you know, stuff. Like a personality. I mean, look, here's what we know about her: Her father is an explorer, who was tasked with uncovering the secrets of the Lower World. She grew up with all this, learning the lost language of the Subterraneans while she did her schoolwork. Recently, he went down on another expedition, and disappeared. She's on a mission to find him.

That's it. That's all she has. I know she's missing… a lot, but I don't know what to fill it in with. She's adventurous and a nerd, but that does not a personality make.

I always see these sort of questionnaire type things for character creation, when you basically fill in every detail of your character, all their history and likes and dislikes. This is the one I've used. Here's a bigger one. I've tried to use them, but I usually don't have answers to all the questions. Hell, I probably couldn't even answer them all for myself. I realize knowing all that crap is how you get well rounded characters, but damn is it intimidating.

I think my next project after Camp NaNo is just going to be to create one single good, interesting character. Of course, a character cannot exist in a vacuum, so they'll need some kind of world to live in. Just something vague, like "reality," "urban fantasy," "1967 Chicago," or "Mars." Because it matters, whether they're human, half-elf, or Venusian, and what sort of time they're living in.

Clearly I need to work on my character creation. A story is nothing without good characters. Full, rich, characters. Characters you can relate to, and feel for. I mean, I'm trying to control emotions and take over the world here. And characters are the way to do it. That's what draws you in and keeps you invested. You care about the characters and what happens to them.

I want that. I need that.

I've created some fun characters over the years, but I never knew everything about them. I couldn't tell you their favorite food or childhood best friend or, hell, their birthday or middle name. But maybe I should know.

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm not just creating a character, I'm creating a whole person.

And my god, is that intimidating.

I'll see you Tuesday, when Camp NaNo will be over and I'll be heading into this new endeavor.

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