When Characters Write Themselves
If you’ve read any of my fiction, you know I have a soft spot for quirky characters–the kind we used to call half a bubble off plum or a couple of bricks shy of a load. These are the most fun to write and perhaps the most instructive, not that anyone is reading my stuff to achieve enlightenment.
I Speedster I have two favorites, Dwayne and T-Ball, a couple of neon-haired slackers who spend their days complaining about the fundamental unfairness of their lives and trying at the same time to achieve fairly lofty goals without putting in any effort. Much like real life, the smarter one, T-Ball, is continually over-ridden by the loud one, Dwayne, whose loutish ignorance is exceeded only by his abiding self-confidence. I imagine that T-Ball’s daily trials are very similar to those of the current crop of staffers and hanger’s on in the White House. I can sympathize.
Bringing the quirk is easier than you’d think
I didn’t set out to make this pair as interesting as they became. They grew on me as I wrote and succeeded in expanding their own roles without much input from me. One kind reviewer remarked that I must love my characters because they are drawn so gently, even when they don’t deserve it.
I don’t know about ‘love.’ Dwayne is certainly not lovable. Neither is T-Ball, although he is much more sympathetic. Their failings notwithstanding, they are such immense fun to hang with that I am going to have to bring them back in a prequel.
Alejandro, AKA El Colmillo or The Fang, appears in A Cup of Pending. Alejandro is an enforcer and assassin for a Colombian drug cartel. He is dangerous beyond imagining, and tales of his exploits stir terror and admiration among those who know him. His preferred weapon is an ice pick.
The fascinating about El Colmillo is that he is addicted to American romance novels. I threw that in just because it seemed so ridiculous on its face. I mean, really! Who would’ve thought a thing like that? Well … me for one.
It was just a throwaway line at first. I thought it would get a chuckle, and that would be the end of it. It worked so well as I developed it in the writing that it eventually became a major plot point. I took a stone killer, gave him a charming characteristic, and got a surprise plot twist in the bargain.
As with Dwayne and T-Ball in Speedster, this happened organically. I planted one unlikely seed in these characters, and it blossomed into something richer and more satisfying than I originally planned.
Of course I still had to write it and polish it up, but this kind of thing is the best part of writing for me. I hope you agree.
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