Friday, July 16, 2010

Are you always writing the same character?

I read one of those online top tens recently – the stuff they use to take up space on the home page. This one was about one-note actors who are past their hey-day. Harrison Ford was on the list. The writer thinks he’s past his prime. I can’t agree or disagree and yet held against Leonardo DiCaprio, Johnny Depp (remember 21 Jump Street?) and Russell Crowe, Ford indeed seems to be playing varying degrees of Han Solo. (And if they had to put Ford and Brendan Fraser in a movie, did it have to be the likes of Extraordinary Measures?)

But I digress.

Reading the article I started to wonder: Do we as writers fall into the same trap? Are we writing one-note characters? OR: Are we writing the same character over and over, just with a different name and a different set of variables? And is that a bad thing?

I tend to create strong females who’ve had to overcome issues in their lives. In my current book I also have males who are struggling against strong fathers to come into their own. Have I written characters like this before? Yes, I have.

So then I asked myself, should I be preparing as an actor does to get into character? That’s tricky. Usually when an actor prepares to perform in a role, someone like me has invented the role. And yet, as the actor calls on his ability to channel various emotions and traits into a character – and make the viewer believe he is that character – perhaps the writer should also delve deep within to invent an original and believable person.

The bottom line, for me, is this: Yes, I think I owe it to the reader to not produce the same characters in each piece I write. Understanding that readers themselves are probably drawn to the same personality types in the books they read, perhaps they also want a little variety. And we, as writers, owe it to them to add a little spice to the mix. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Variety is always helpful - for a series character, obviously that isn't possible, and audiences expect that character to remain the same yet grow with each story. But for new characters, they should be unique, and it's up to the writer to find that which makes the character interesting for the reader. I think if the writer concentrates on making the character fully human and three-dimensional, that variety will come through.