Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Character Creation

First, we have been having some incredible winter weather here. Snow up to my ... shoulders in places, actually. Those drifts were horrid. Then days of fog and lovely frosted trees. Today we had a major ice storm with power out in parts of the city. This weekend we're supposed to have a thunderstorm.

It's an odd winter!

But now... on to character creation!

After dealing with an incredibly dense, self-righteous ... person ... on line for a couple days, I realized he made the perfect base for a story character. I even have the novel to fit him into, I think. It actually made me laugh thinking about writing this one up, because the actual person is such a caricature of anything real anyway, that it took very little to expand him into something for a story.

There's something to be said for this kind of character creation. It would have been far more difficult for me to come up with someone as pretentious and annoying as 'Edgar' in the story if I hadn't just found his real life counterpart. All writers know to be on the lookout for potential characters, but the good part of finding them on the Internet is that they have already created themselves in words.

I can see Edgar in a scene from 'Waiting for the Last Dance' a YA contemporary mystery that I'm doing some serious rewriting and expansion on. I'm pretty sure I knew Edgar in school, in fact. He was the guy who had decided he was smarter than everyone else and if he made a decision, no amount of logic could change his mind. He was always right and twisted everything to fit his very skewed view of the world.

This is just a test scene for him. The book itself is first person POV and this is sort of a distant view -- it isn't in Marisha's voice at all yet because I'm not sure where I will put this in. I think it will work, though.

Edgar's eyes bulged behind his dirty glasses; he plainly never cared to see the world clearly. His unkempt hair stood out in clumps and his thin lips remained pursed in a perpetual sneer at anyone who dared to think themselves worthy to even speak to him.

His self-righteous proclamations and constant attacks on 'enemies' had left him very much alone, which obviously annoyed him even more. Edgar hated being ignored and he would rant and rave over it for days if someone walked away in the middle of being lectured. People just avoided having to deal with him. Every now and then, though, an unfortunate newcomer to the school fell into his snare.

"That's not what I wrote at all," Carter said from across the room. He sounded perplexed. "In fact, I wrote just the opposite."

"But you were snide, which means you didn't mean it," Edgar replied, leaning over the table and glaring at Carter.

"I was not snide at all." The tone of Carter's words already began to change. It wasn't taking him long to figure out the game here. "I'm sorry you read it as that, but it's not true."

"Are you calling me a liar? You're the one who insulted the school."

"I did no such thing."

"You're just like all the others, so don't lie to me. You think you can talk your way out of it, but you were insulting and demeaning. You said this was a lovely little school, and I know that by saying 'little' you meant worthless."

"If I had wanted to say worthless, I would have said so."

"So you think it is worthless."

"No --"

"But you said you would say so."

"I said if I had wanted to, I would have said so."

"Which means you believe it. You've as good as said it."

Carter stood from the chair and looked down at Edgar, who plainly didn't like it. Edgar always had to be the superior one. He started to stand, but something in Carter's face made him stop.

"Don't bother me again," Carter said. He turned and walked away.

"Far easier to turn you back than to face the truth."

"No," Carter said. "Just turning my back on wasting time with a fool."

And he walked away.

Edgar went on about Carter's 'true feelings' about the school for some time, but as usual, no one else listened to him.


achieve1dream said...

Sounds great!! I love reading about character creation and development. I have difficulty with making obnoxious characters, but you sure did a good job. I'm ready to read the rest of the story. :)

Orange Roughy said...

There certainly is something to be said for getting out and about and interacting with people. Characters abound in the real world!

Good job with the dialogue.