Monday, July 29, 2013

The context of context

You know your characters.  Or, if you’re more of a pantster you will know your characters. They know who they are; they are the geek, or the brain, or the jock (broad strokes here folks).  But what happens when they are taken out of their normal environment?  A person may be the brain until she’s suddenly surrounded by a group from Mensa.  What affect would that have on who she is? On who she thinks she is?

We all have our sense of who we are.  This is directly related to the social group we are in and can fluctuate based on the grouping.  We might be the popular one with our nerd friends, the geeky one with our mundane friends, etc.  The same is true for our characters.

This all came to me at Comic Con last week.  I’m a geek.  A serious geek.  But I was sooooo out geeked by many folks it wasn’t even funny. But at the same time it was GREAT to be around my kind.  Folks who understand fandom, who understand all the cool geekiness that is Comic Con.  To not get “those” looks when I talk about my stuff.  It did change my sense of geeky self.

As writers, we need to do the same thing to our characters.  A story is based on what changed in our character’s life and how they took care of it, or completely re-vamped their life. We’re taking them out of their normal context, and setting them in a new one. 

So what about your characters?  How is their sense of self changed by the circumstance you put them in?


  1. Nice post! I have a character who's always been a master chef- until she mets the real masters at Culinary school! I'm hoping that her coping issues will help move the story some (I'm a new writer)

    Thanks for the blog!

    Sarah M.

    1. Thank you, Sarah! Very interesting- will your book have recipes too? I think food is one thing often ignored by writers, but it can have a great impact on the reader. Good luck and thank you for coming by and commenting!

  2. Hello, Marie, great question.

    I have now become a plotter and my characters are all full of attitude. The great wish fulfillment here is that I know my characters will always get to share their internal rumblings or exactly how they feel about anyone else, eventually. Unlike me!

    They will always be a better person at the ends of their arcs.

    I have to say, they are the me I wish I were. A Geek here, too, yes.
    I protect them in my imagination, no matter what situation they're in.

    As for myself, I don't have fast enough comebacks in social situations. Always thinking, wish I could have said that.

    Don't we all hope we have the same protection in an imagination from above?

    1. Oh very true, Susan! I think all of us have characters who are smarter, faster, etc, than we are. But just remember, your characters have witty comebacks because YOU thought of them :). So really, you are all of those things and more!

      Thanks for coming by and commenting and some great insight!

  3. Hi Marie Andreas,
    You ask interesting questions here. Characters can change when they meet different kinds of people, just as we can show slightly different faces in different situations.

    Best wishes,
    Direct link to my IWSG-post for August:
    Anna's ISWG for August: Dealing with Practical Problems

    1. Hi Anna :)

      Oops- you must have gotten here before I got my IWSG post up! Sorry, west coast time ;). Thank you for coming by and commenting though!