Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Character Quirks

We’ve done it—with stubbornness and perseverance, we’ve done it! Okay, who’m I kidding—it had more to do with timing and luck, but we’ve reached a short-term goal just the same. We are now three full chapters ahead to send to the critique group.
Whew, after all that hard work, time for a break right? Sort of. We took a bit of a holiday Saturday and drove for an hour to hear author Julia Durango speak on plotting. But the best part of the day? Spending drive time talking shop with my writing partner—no niggling thoughts of dirty laundry, a lawn full of leaves, or litter boxes. Just enjoying like-minded conversation.
The topic that dominated most of our chatter centered around characterization. Larry watched a program about the most memorable TV characters, and he wanted to know who mine were from sitcoms…immediately I thought of Carla and Cliff Claven from Cheers; Klinger from MASH; Larry, Darrel and Darrel from Newhart; and Les Nessman from WKRP in Cincinnati. (Interesting how mine were all from the 80s…did I stop watching comedy in my 20s?)
He agreed with many of mine, and threw in a few from the program and of his own, including Archie Bunker, Kramer from Seinfeld, Frazier, and pretty much any role played by Don Knotts.
We have a common liking for quirky and over-the-top. After all, what is comedy without quirky? We applied what we like about those characters to our own.
Are our characters over-the-top? A few, yes, but they can’t all be quirky—we need comedy foils for balance and contrast. Our main character is quirky, but not the quirkiest. Does that make him boring? I hope not.
Does it matter that our main character is a foil? I’m choosing to think not. He’s developed from a passive whiner to an active protector of his lady love. Although he may not have followed the “Hero’s Journey” as Julia described, his character has changed for the better, he’s learning something, and he’s good for a laugh or two.
After all, that is what we’re going for, right? The laughs.

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