Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Purse first!

Okay, for those of you who don't watch Ru Paul's Drag Race, you won't know what that means. So, I'll 'splain. 

This season there was a drag queen named....Bob the Drag Queen. And her trade mark entry to a room was with arm held straight out, purse held out in front of her, and entering before her. It was cute, said a lot about her and her way of thinking, and made it her stand out. I even saw a photo of the actress (Anna Kendrick) from Pitch Perfect doing, "Purse first" while heading to an award show. 

So what has that got to do with writing ? 

Character development: there is no such thing as a new plot, a new character, a new situation. There are only so many ideas around and we've been bastardizing them since Shakespeare's time (probably before). So you need to make your characters, like your world and your plot, unique. 

In the world of urban fantasy, there plenty of tough chicks who kick paranormal ass. The good ones have something that stands out from the kicking ass, midriff wearing crowd. One of the forerunners of urban fantasy would be Laurell K. Hamilton (I would argue along with Mercedes Lackey and her Diana Tregard books). Anita Blake was tough, fiery, and had a thing for stuffed penguins. Not as unique, perhaps, as a drag queen entering all rooms with purse extended, but it stuck in my mind. I haven't read her books in many years...but I still recall the penguins.

Now this doesn't mean sitting there and thinking, "OH!  What little quirk can I give my character? I know!  Stuffed turtles!"  What ever quirk you have needs to fit the character. Purse first definitely fit Bob the Drag Queen. Other drag queens couldn't have pulled it off.

Whether you're a plotter and map out every bit of your characters before you dive in to write, or a seat of the pants writer--make sure to give your characters a memorable and unique habit or quirk. Nothing huge, or story stealing, just a little something that makes the character more real and special for the reader.

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  1. Interesting thing to think about. I know one of my characters has a thing for comparing people to coffee. I don't know if I've done something like that for my less prominent characters though.

    1. I love that! It says a lot about the character and the way they see whoever they are talking to ;).

      Marie- at day job can't log in

  2. Oh, Loni, I love the coffee comparison! Definitely some good advice on making your characters unique, Marie. I seem to have more trouble doing that with my main character than my secondary characters. Perhaps because I feel I spend more time with the main character and so can develop their personality over the course of the story. A well placed individual characteristic would certainly work faster and be more memorable.

    1. Isn't the coffee thing great? Yeah, it's hard because in our heads they are all unique, but having a tag of some sort does help the reader I think. One author I adore has so many characters that I have to stop and do a "wait, which one is this?" whenever I start a new book. ;)

      Marie-at day job can't log in